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I, Robot

I, Robot

By Patrick Samuel • June 1st, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
20th Century Fox

Release date: July 15th, 2004
Running time: 115 minutes

Director: Alex Proyas
Writers: Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman, Isaac Asimov

Cast: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan

I, Robot

The future is always fantastic. In films, art and literature we encounter towering cities and technologies way beyond our current capabilities. Housing, sickness and poverty is usually eradicated and world wide war is a thing of the past with future civilisations wondering why it took their ancestors so long to figure out a way to live peacefully together. Of course, we’re talking about utopian visions, a place where the future seems far more futuristic.

One such future is depicted in I, Robot, a film based on a story by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. Set in the year 2035 it shows us a future where robots have become so sophisticated that they’ve become our trusted servants, performing jobs in society that have are too lowly for us to do ourselves. They cook, clean, run errands, do the shopping and anything else we ask them to do, but to make sure they’re unable to bring us any harm, they’ve been programmed with the Three Laws of Robotics directives:

First Law: A robot must never harm a human being or, through inaction, allow any harm to come to a human.
Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given to them by human beings, except where such orders violate the First Law.
Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence unless this violates the First or Second Laws.

I, Robot

Although he was saved from drowning by a robot after a car accident some years previously, Del Spooner (Will Smith) has grown to dislike them. The robot that saved him calculated that his chance of survival was greater than that of a 12-year-old girl and made the choice to save his life instead of hers. Knowing that a human being would never make such a choice fuels his contempt for these artificially intelligent beings and Spooner can’t get through a day without scorning their integration into society by U.S. Robotics CEO Lawrence Robertson (Bruce Greenwood).

Naturally then when Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), the co-founder of USR, is found dead after having falling through a window from his office, Spooner’s first instinct is to suspect a robot. After almost being crushed to death by the NS-5, a prototype of the latest USR model, Spooner finds his prime suspect, a robot calling himself Sonny. Athough robo-psychologist Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), and practically everyone else Spooner comes into contact with, tells him there’s no way a robot governed by the Three Laws can ever harm a human being, he remains convinced otherwise.

Spooner parallels some of the prejudices we associate with racism today and it’s interesting to see this played out on screen by a black actor. Smith’s character remains I, Robotoblivious to this though, at least until sonny has a chance to prove him wrong; to show him that while they may look different Sonny too has a purpose in life – and like everyone else, he has his to figure out what his is.

As Spooner and Calvin continue to investigate the case, I, Robot shapes up to be an interesting and unique science fiction thriller, offering up a story that mixes intelligence and action. The cinematography is sleek and the special effects are excellent throughout, including the overall look and movement of the robots. This vision of the future is one that’s almost clinically clean, but once we begin to look beyond that façade we see the wreckage of the past clearly. With data feeds from USR’s supercomputer V.I.K.I (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) mysteriously missing, Calvin soon comes to share Spooner’s opinion that something’s not right and maybe Robertson is hiding something. It seems his vision of the future is different to theirs and when it all starts to hit the fan one of the best lines in the film comes from our hero who says “Y’know, somehow “I told you so” just doesn’t quite say it”.

Although I, Robot uses the premise of a robot uprising as a threat to humanity, as a film it differs significantly to Asimov’s writings. His stories were written as a direct antithesis to this idea, but it’s still a hugely enjoyable film that lends itself easily to various themes including technology, ethics, race and perhaps most importantly, the questions of our purpose in life and what we wish for the future.

I, Robot

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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