Dec 16, 2004

I, Robot, disgusted at Hollowwood....

I never posted it here, but when I first saw the trailers for I, Robot, the latest Will Smith venue, I flipped completely out. The NS-5s were beautiful, the fx promised to be top notch, and the trailers were sooo syrupy generic like a Microsoft commercial that I was taken in for a second. Even a good director--Alex Proyas, of "The Crow" and "Dark City" fame.

Then I saw the list of actors.

Then I saw the plot synopsis.

Then I realised that they were going to take Dr. Asimov's ground-breaking precedent-setting book, turn it over a couch and spank it until it screamed bloody murder.

And they did.

Granted, if you ignore the book's existence, the movie wasn't all that bad. I know, I say that a lot about books-to-movies, but I feel that THAT genre is a complete whoring, and almost never returns good results. And speaking of books turned into an infinite array of horrible movies, they really had to slather the "Frankenstein" mythos on pretty hard for the modern generation, but hey, look at the target audience.

Okay. The good things--

The FX were superb. They'd better be, with today's computation powers. Sonny was portrayed the same way Gollum was done; an actor in a green body suit. Made for some beautifully human expressions overlaying a very artificial framework. Nice.

Product placements were, at least in one instance, funny. The FexEx robot, painted in the FedEx red/blue pattern gave me quite a laugh. And the interplay of humans and robots on the city-street scenes in the beginning were very well played--I particularly liked the sanitation crew, painted in "highway worker orange" working in the background.

The Audi concept car (designed by Audi for the movie, I'm told) was beautiful. Fake, but beautiful.

Spheroid-tired cargo haulers--THOSE were neat. Combination of train and diesel truck riding on ball-like tires, able to change direction effortlessly, that was tres' cool.

And I'll give him (Proyas) this--the pathos wasn't overplayed. Too much. Smith's walk through the Lake Michigan storage facility, with Farmer Hoggett's voice-over asking why robots would seek the light in a dark place, and why, if left by themselves for a long period they seek out each other's presence...I don't think Asimov actually covered any of that, and it makes no sense (do toasters seek each other's company in the kitchen?) and don't tell me that Farmer Hoggett's speech on 'random programming bits' hooey made sense, but all in all, it still twanged a heartstring. I'm also an anthropomorphizing softie (who can't spell big words.)

Nyhoo. Rent it on Two-For-Tuesday, it's not so bad. It's not so good, but it IS pretty well done sci-fi in a generation where that's getting hard to find, unless you like Star Warts.

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