Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 46: I, Robot (2004)

PG-13, 1 hr. 50 min. Directed by: Alex Proyas. Release Date: July 16, 2004. DVD Release Date: December 14, 2004.

It doesn't feel like it's been the better part of a decade since this movie came out. When I pulled together the information on the film, I was a bit taken aback when I saw the release date. I guess in part because this wasn't so many films ago for Will Smith, who generally only does one movie per year, although he didn't star in a film in 2009 or 2010. It's funny, because the man's come a long way from his Fresh Prince days, and now I kind of set my movie "watch" by his summer releases. His failure to hold to his established patterns has me all messed up.

I'm not a huge fan of Isaac Azimov, who I believe wrote the book that inspired this film. Truth be told, I generally find a lot of fault with the "hard core" sci-fi too… sci-fyish. I guess there's only so much that my disbelief can be suspended, and after that, it's kind of a crap shoot. Azimov tends to the harder sci-fi, although I have enjoyed one or two of his books. I, Robot; however, is damn near the perfect movie. I truly think that there's a little something for everyone: action, science fiction, mystery, a bit of romantic tension between Will Smith's character and Dr. Calvin. But, what really gets my attention is that this is sci-fi that's so near-future that I could actually be alive when this takes place, barring some unforeseen event or disease. Even better is that the world described in this film resembles our world pretty strongly. In the thirty years between this film's release and its setting date, very little seems to have taken place except for the growth of virtual communications (ie, the interwebz) and robotics. Other than that, it doesn't appear that it remains business as usual in the future, despite the problems of the present.

I've seen this movie several times, and I'm always impressed with the special effects that surround the NS-5 robots. There was a fluidity in (particularly) their facial features that I found appealing, but I also liked that while the robots are built in man's image, they aren't limited to man's range of movement (or to man's range of thinking). I'm also almost always amazed at the cast members they managed to sneak in that I never notice in prior viewings, such as Chi McBride, who I learned to love in Pushing Daisies, and Alan Tudyk, who is the voice of Sonny, and who plays Wash, Serenity's pilot. I even spotted the over-hyped and over-exposed Shia LeBoeuf in a bit part, although I didn't spot him the first few times I watched this.

This is a very family-friendly sort of film, and I think it's… respectable that these guys managed to build a summer blockbuster (released in the heart of the summer movie season, no less) without anything keeping it from being inappropriate for the whole family to watch together. There's SOME violence, but very little of it is human on human, which seems to mitigate the impact of the damage being done. There's little swearing, probably nothing your kids haven't heard at home with more vehemence and frequency. I'm pretty sure that if you let your kids watch Star Wars, they could sit through this.