Killer robots are about to take over the world in this action-packed film, based very loosely on Isaac Asimov’s book of short stories.
The setting is Chicago, 2035. Will Smith is in the role of Detective Spooner, suspicious of the robots which seem to be perfectly integrated into public life. The US Robotics Corporation is unveiling a new generation of robots and everyone is pretty excited, except for Spooner. When an eminent engineer and co-founder of the corporation falls to his death, it’s assumed to be suicide. However, Spooner doesn’t believe it. Then one of the robots turns out to have free will… is the robot a murderer? Or are things more complicated than that?
There are a number of elements taken from the original book. The Three Laws of Robotics, which are central to understanding the behaviour of these sophisticated robots and which sometimes conflict with each other. The idea of a rogue robot hiding itself in a crowd of normal ones. The character of Dr Susan Calvin, a psychologist of robots who is cool and efficient. Operations controlled by a giant positronic Brain. However, the majority of the film is not from the book.
That’s not to say it’s a bad film. It’s worth watching at least once. I did think there were some embarrassing aspects. For example, it’s easy to tell when the robots have turned evil, because they conveniently light up red! There’s the obligatory car chase, with dozens of robot bodies wasted on the road (which would never have occurred in the book, as the machines are very expensive to make and would not be expendable). There are way too many slow-motion shots. And Will Smith on a motorbike, wearing shades and leathers, seems like merely an opportunity for him to look cool, with Dr Calvin behind him, having shed her white labcoat and also looking cool. Maybe it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. It’s not a serious film as such, because there are a lot of funny moments. Asimov’s book was quite humorous at times so it seems fitting that the film pays homage to that. I should also mention the obvious product placements – Will Smith’s Converse sneakers, his JVC video player, his futuristic Audi, the FedEx courier robot.
Recommended if you feel like watching a science fiction thriller with plenty of action and a few laughs. Not recommended as a substitute for reading the book.
Low-resolution image sourced from IMDb.