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I, Robot (***)
Directed by Alex Proyas
Written by Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman, suggested from the books by Isaac Asimov
I, Robot
Principal Cast
Will Smith -- Del Spooner
Bridget Moynahan -- Susan Calvin
Alan Tudyk -- Sonny
James Cromwell -- Dr. Alfred Lanning
Bruce Greenwood -- Lawrence Robertson
Adrian L. Ricard -- Granny
Chi McBride -- Lt. John Bergin
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

I hope you were able to avoid reading any reviews of I, Robot before seeing the movie. Except this one. It is OK to read this review before seeing the movie because I'm only going to tell you one thing about the plot. It is a murder mystery.

The good news is that the movie isn't anything like what the previews lead you to expect. It also isn't anything like the Isaac Asimov book, which "suggested" the film. Visually, it is one of the best science fiction films ever made, with gorgeous special effects and lots of nice futuristic touches, such as a machine that picks up your vehicle and racks it until you need it. The high tech is gorgeous, and there is realistic acknowledgment that a lot of low tech stuff will still be around thirty years from now.

If the special effects are so great, and the plot is good in its general outlines, where does the movie go wrong? Why is so much of it boring? The problem lies in the characterization. None of the characters are believable or interesting. We are totally uninvolved in their lives, we do not care whether they live or die. We are never drawn into the film. In short, the writers have fallen down on the job.

Another way in which the writers let us down is in the details. The forced comparison between prejudice against Blacks and prejudice against robots sounds much more like the 1950s than the 2030s. Details which might hold the plot together are missing. Overall, it makes sense, but none of the incidents that carry the plot make sense. And the whole Hansel and Gretel idea is a very bad one. To quote Bugs Bunny, "Hansel? Hansel?"

Jeff Vintar is a clever fellow. He came up with the story. Then they brought Akiva Goldsman on board as the "experienced" half of the script-writing team. Since his experience includes writing Batman & Robin and Lost in Space, both universally excoriated for poor scripts, I think it is safe to blame him for everything that is wrong with I, Robot. But wait a minute! Didn't this writer of Batman & Robin and Lost in Space win an Oscar for screenwriting? He did. Which just goes to show how bad Oscar choices often are. The members of the Academy voted for A Beautiful Mind because of Russell Crowe's performance, not because of the script, which was dumb. To mention just two dumb things, the writer got Nash's contribution to mathematics all wrong. Well, maybe that's to be expected. But the stupid "pen ceremony" was neither real nor realistic nor believable.

So, credit Jeff Vintar with everything good about I, Robot; blame Akiva Goldsman for everything bad, and give a nod to the Good Doctor for the Three Laws.

The film is certainly worth seeing. I didn't guess "who done it", and I'm usually good at guessing endings.

No credit cookies.

Copyright © 2004 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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