I, Robot (2004)

Rating: D

Dir: Alex Proyas
Star: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, Chi McBride

The end credits say this was “suggested by” Isaac Asimov’s book. “Hinted vaguely at in passing” might be closer to the truth, since all the subtle philosophical ramifications of the original classic anthology have been tossed out in favour of shooting things and chase sequences. Of course, these things aren’t mutually exclusive to decent SF (Blade Runner, a film of which this is not worthy to lick the boots) – except when, as here, they’re rolled out with so little thought as to become tedious. Cop Spooner (Smith) hates the robots that have become part of everyday life, and is delighted when he finds one that has apparently killed its creator. But is there more to this than simple murder? And what of Spooner’s own past?

This implodes in three minutes, with painfully obvious plugs for FedEx, JVC and, in the worst product-placement ever, Converse basketball shoes (Audi is also endorsed to death). Large chunks are unexplained; why are old robots summarily junked? We don’t do that with cars. And when the villains throw two trucks of robots at Spooner, the highway is entirely devoid of other life. In downtown Chicago. Dear me. It often feels like Smith and ‘nice’ scientist Moynahan are the only things not generated by algorithms – and I’m unsure about Moynahan. When the robots revolt, things pick up, but instead of examining the ramifications of a world controlled by our creations, the film sends Spooner atop a computer, with an automatic weapon and apparently infinite bullets, facing a million attacking robots, and screaming “Who wants some?” Okay, scratch the last – though he might as well be…