Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday, 12 August 2004

'I, Robot' - a review

I saw this on Tuesday, partly as a way of occupying myself for a few hours whilst my mother was having her operation (previous story). I have been reading the science fiction writings of Isaac Asimov since I was nine or ten years old and know most of the stories backwards; they can always bear a further reading, so far as I am concerned. Visit the movie website here.

So I was particularly excited to hear that some of his short stories were to form the basis of a major film. As with all summer 'blockbusters' the interest in the film lies in the special effects, which were pretty excellent.

I think the movie drew also on some themes from others of Asimov's writings - notably 'The Caves of Steel', which had as a major factor the dislike of robots, and the modern world in general, by plainclothes policeman Elijah Baley - this is really the role that Will Smith was playing, in my view. He turned in a workmanlike performance, I'd say, but I was not entirely convinced by it. The other major character was Dr Susan Calvin, the robotocist responsible in the short stories, but not so much in the movie, for much of the design of 'positronic' robots. Bridget Moynahan (whom I had never heard of before) played Dr Calvin in the film and whilst she is an attractive woman, an obvious foil for the 'macho' Will Smith, her acting in this movie did not reach any particularly high notes - as I don't recall having seen her in any other movie, maybe I am doing her a mis-service, though. However, whilst I can understand the desire of the producers to cast an actress in this role who was beautiful and who would be a quasi-romantic interest for Smith, this is VERY different from the character Isaac Asimov created - she was clever, with an icy charm and she could be guaranteed to see nothing but the grimmest of amusement in anything, but she often saw things that 'mere men' (Lanning, her nominal boss, for example, or owner of US Robots, Robertson) would gloss over or fail to identify at all. The idea of her heart 'melting', as it does in the movie, because of a human being is not likely in my view.

However, leaving aside these divergences from Asimov's plotlines, it was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. I'm glad I went to see it, but doubt if it merits a second viewing, except perhaps once the video is released and appears on the 'bargain' shelf.

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