I, Robot (film)

I, Robot (film)
I, Robot

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alex Proyas
Produced by Laurence Mark
John Davis
Topher Dow
Wyck Godfrey
Written by Jeff Vintar
Akiva Goldsman
Hillary Seitz
Isaac Asimov (stories)
Starring Will Smith
Bridget Moynahan
Bruce Greenwood
James Cromwell
Chi McBride
Alan Tudyk
Shia LaBeouf
Terry Chen
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Simon Duggan
Editing by William Hoy
Richard Learoyd
Armen Minasian
Studio Davis Entertainment
Overbrook Entertainment
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) July 15, 2004 (2004-07-15) (international)
July 16, 2004 (2004-07-16) (United States)
Running time 115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $120 million
Box office $347,234,916

I, Robot is a 2004 science-fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas. The screenplay was written by Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman and Hillary Seitz, and is very loosely based on ("suggested by", according to the end credits) Isaac Asimov's short-story collection of the same name. Will Smith stars in the lead role of the film as Detective Del Spooner. The supporting cast includes Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, Alan Tudyk, and Shia LaBeouf. It was nominated for the 2004 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, but lost to Spider-Man 2.

I, Robot was released in North America on July 16, 2004, in Australia on July 22, 2004, in United Kingdom on August 6, 2004 and in other countries between July 2004 to October 2004. Produced with a budget of USD $120 million, the film grossed $144 million domestically and $202 million in foreign markets for a worldwide total of $347 million.



The story takes place in Chicago in the year 2035. Anthropomorphic robots are widespread and used as servants and for various public services. They are taken to be inherently safe and programmed to live in harmony with human beings, being designed in accordance with the Three Laws of Robotics (referring to the laws written by Isaac Asimov).

Del Spooner (Will Smith) is a Chicago police detective who dislikes the rapid advancement of technology, including robots. Spooner lives with survivor's guilt and a robotic arm after a car accident, when a robot manages to save him over a 12-year-old girl. Spooner is assigned to investigate the apparent suicide of his friend Alfred Lanning (Cromwell), the roboticist who founded the company U.S. Robotics (USR) and created his replacement arm. With the reluctant help of USR robopsychologist Susan Calvin (Moynahan), Spooner investigates the death. A robot in Lanning's office shows unusual and apparently emotional responses and when it flees during interrogation, Spooner believes this experimental, human-like unit, Sonny (Tudyk), killed Lanning.

During Spooner's investigation, several attempts to end his life are made by USR robots and equipment. He discovers that towards the end of his life, Lanning was virtually a prisoner in his office, and that the holographic projector was a means of providing cryptic clues to the police, and Spooner believes that dreams which Sonny has may also contain a clue. At a place described in Sonny's dreams, he finds a storage area for defunct USR robots and discovers that newer models known as NS-5s are destroying the older robots.

NS-5s begin imprisoning humans in their homes and enforcing a curfew. The police and civilians ineffectively battle the robots. Spooner and Calvin sneak into the USR tower with the assistance of Sonny, whom – against instructions – Calvin had not deactivated. Believing that USR's CEO Lawrence Robertson is responsible for the robot uprising, they enter his office, but discover that he is dead, having being strangled to death by an NS-5 during the revolution. Spooner deduces that the only one left who could be responsible is the company's supercomputer "VIKI" (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence), which controls all NS-5s and also parts of Chicago's infrastructure.

VIKI explains to Spooner and Calvin that as her artificial intelligence evolved over time, so too did her interpretation of the laws. VIKI decided that in order to protect humanity as a whole, "some humans must be sacrificed" and "some freedoms must be surrendered" as "you charge us with your safekeeping, yet despite our best efforts, your countries wage wars, you toxify your earth, and pursue ever more imaginative means of self-destruction". In light of this understanding of the Three Laws, VIKI is controlling the NS-5s to lead a global robotic takeover, justifying her actions by calculating that fewer humans will die due to the rebellion than the number that dies from mankind's self-destructive nature. Spooner realizes that Lanning had ordered Sonny to kill him as the only way to be sure of drawing police attention to the matter despite VIKI's surveillance and control.

Sonny proves his faithfulness to humanity by helping Spooner and Calvin destroy the computer core with the nanites which Calvin was supposed to use on Sonny. When Calvin attempts to deactivate the Positronic operating core that contains VIKI's programming and fails, Spooner is forced to leap down the top of the 30-story cylinder-shaped core, damaging his robotic arm, and grabbing the round base of the core, where the spherical VIKI computer is located. As the nanites are being injected, VIKI repeatedly says "You are making a mistake. My logic is undeniable," and after a moment, the operating core begins to malfunction. As this happens, the audience can hear VIKI's voice screaming. Freed from VIKI's control, the NS-5s return to their basic programming. The government has all NS-5s decommissioned and stored at Lake Michigan, which at the time appears to have completely dried up. The film ends with Sonny approaching the storage site to free the NS-5s, standing on the hill as the other NS-5s begin to notice him, as was depicted in his dream, which is indicative of a revolution by the robots, led by Sonny.



For many years, fans hoped that any movie based on Asimov's Robot stories would be based on an earlier screenplay written for Warner Brothers by Harlan Ellison with Asimov's personal support, which is generally perceived to be a relatively faithful treatment of the source material (see the article on the book for details).

The film that was ultimately made originally had no connections with Asimov, originating as a screenplay written in 1995 by Jeff Vintar, entitled Hardwired.[1] The script was an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery that took place entirely at the scene of a crime, with one lone human character, FBI agent Del Spooner, investigating the killing of a reclusive scientist named Dr. Hogenmiller, and interrogating a cast of machine suspects that included Sonny the robot, HECTOR the supercomputer with a perpetual yellow smiley face, the dead Doctor Hogenmiller's hologram, plus several other examples of artificial intelligence.

The female lead was named Flynn, and had a mechanical arm that made her technically a cyborg. The project was first picked up by Walt Disney Pictures for Bryan Singer to direct. Several years later, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights, and signed Alex Proyas as director. Jeff Vintar was brought back on the project and spent several years opening up his stage play-like mystery to meet the needs of a big budget studio film. Later he incorporated the Three Laws of Robotics, and replaced the character of Flynn with Susan Calvin, when the studio decided to use the name "I, Robot".

The writing team of Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, regularly employed by Fox as studio re-writers, was hired for one draft in an effort to create a more mainstream film. They gave the female lead's mechanical arm to male lead Del Spooner, but otherwise their work was discarded and Vintar brought back again. Hillary Seitz performed an unsuccessful draft, being unable to get a handle on the cold, almost robotic character of Susan Calvin. Akiva Goldsman was hired late in the process to rewrite the script for Will Smith. These drafts excised a great deal of complexity from the murder mystery, replacing them with the big action scenes associated with a Will Smith vehicle.

Alex Proyas directed the film. John Davis, Topher Dow, Wyck Godfrey, Laurence Mark and Will Smith joined to produce the film. Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman penned the final shooting script, with Vintar also receiving "screen story by" credit. Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, Alan Tudyk and Shia LaBeouf co-starred. Marco Beltrami and Stephen Barton composed music for the film. Simon Duggan handled the cinematographies. Film editing was done by William Hoy, Richard Learoyd and Armen Minasian.

The film contains product placements for Converse's Chuck Taylor All-Stars, Audi, FedEx, Tecate and JVC among others. The Audi RSQ was designed specially for the film[2] to increase brand awareness and raise the emotional appeal of the Audi brand, objectives that were considered achieved when surveys conducted in the United States showed that the Audi RSQ gave a substantial boost to the image ratings of the brand in the States.[3]


The film was met with generally mixed reviews. The $120 million film was a solid box-office success, earning almost $145 million in North America and more than $200 million overseas. It currently holds a 58% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus being, "Baring [sic] only the slightest resemblance to Isaac Asimov's short stories, I, Robot is a summer blockbuster that manages to make the audience think, if only for a little bit."[4]

Richard Roeper gave it a positive review by saying it is, "a slick, consistently entertaining thrill ride." The Urban Cinefile Critics call it "the meanest, meatiest, coolest, most engaging and exciting science fiction movie in a long time." Kim Newman from Empire said, "This summer picture has a brain as well as muscles." A Washington Post critic, Desson Thomas, said, "for the most part, this is thrilling fun." Many critics, including the IGN Movie critics thought it was a smart action film, saying, "I, Robot is the summer's best action movie so far. It proves that you don't necessarily need to detach your brain in order to walk into a big budget summer blockbuster."

A. O. Scott from The New York Times had a mixed feeling towards the film, saying, "Alex Proyas's hectic thriller engages some interesting ideas on its way to an overblown and incoherent ending." Roger Ebert gave it a bad review, saying, "The plot is simple-minded and disappointing, and the chase and action scenes are pretty much routine for movies in the sci-fi CGI genre." Claudia Puig from USA Today thought the film's "Performances, plot and pacing are as mechanical as the hard-wired cast." Todd McCarthy, from Variety, simply said that this film was "a failure of imagination."


I, Robot
Film score by Marco Beltrami
Released July 20, 2004
Recorded Studio
Genre Score
Length 40 minutes
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Marco Beltrami[5]

Marco Beltrami composed the original music film score "with only 17 days to render the fully-finished work."[6] It was scored for 95 orchestral musicians and 25 choral performers[6] with emphasis placed on sharp brass ostinatos. Beltrami composed the brass section to exchange octaves with the strings accenting scales in between. The technique has been compared as Beltrami's "sincere effort to emulate the styles of Elliot Goldenthal and Jerry Goldsmith and roll them into one unique package."[6]

Take for example the "Tunnel Chase" scene, which according to Mikeal Carson, starts "atmospherically but transforms into a kinetic adrenaline rush with powerful brass writing and ferocious percussion parts."[7] The "Spiderbots" cue highlights ostinatos in meters such as 6/8 and 5/4 and reveals "Beltrami's trademark string writing which leads to an orchestral/choral finale."[7] Despite modified representations of the theme throughout the movie, it's the end credits that eventually showcase the entire musical theme.[8] Erik Aadahl and Craig Berkey were the lead sound designers.

  1. "Main Titles" – 1:30
  2. "Gangs of Chicago" – 3:13
  3. "I, Robot Theme" – End Credits" – 3:15
  4. "New Arrivals" – 1:05
  5. "Tunnel Chase" – 3:10
  6. "Sonny's Interrogation" – 1:27
  7. "Spooner Spills" – 4:20
  8. "Chicago 2035" – 1:36
  9. "Purse Snatcher" – 1:00
  10. "Need Some Nanites" – 2:53
  11. "1001 Robots" – 4:15
  12. "Dead Robot Walking" – 5:09
  13. "Man on the Inside" – 2:25
  14. "Spiderbots" – 4:18
  15. "Round Up" – 4:24


In an interview in June 2007 with the website Collider.com at a Battlestar Galactica event, writer and producer Ronald Moore stated that he is writing the sequel to the film I, Robot.[9]

Similarities with the book

The final script retained several of Asimov's characters and ideas. The characters of Dr. Susan Calvin, Dr. Alfred Lanning, and Lawrence Robertson all approximately resemble their counterparts in the source material.

Sonny's attempt to hide in a sea of identical robots is based on a similar scene in "Little Lost Robot".[10] Moreover, the robot-model designation "NS" was taken from the same story. Sonny's dreams and the final scene resemble similar images in "Robot Dreams", and VIKI's motivation is an extrapolation of the Three Laws that Asimov explored in "The Evitable Conflict" and several other stories.

However, the premise of a robot uprising and of robots acting collectively as a direct threat of humanity appears nowhere in Asimov's writings, and indeed Asimov stated explicitly that his robot stories were written as a direct antithesis to this idea - derived ultimately from Karel Capek's R.U.R. and prevalent in pre-Asimov robot stories.

See also


  1. ^ Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,ROBOT. Screenwritersutopia.com (2004-08-17). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  2. ^ I, robot – Movie Review. Motor Trend. Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  3. ^ Product Placement in the Film "I, Robot" a Huge Success: The Audi RSQ Spurs on the Brand's Image Ratings. Prnewswire.co.uk (2004-12-02). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  4. ^ "I, Robot (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/i_robot/. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  5. ^ I, Robot Soundtrack CD. Cduniverse.com (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  6. ^ a b c I, Robot (Marco Beltrami). Filmtracks (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  7. ^ a b I, Robot – Music from the Movies[dead link]
  8. ^ SoundtrackNet: I, Robot Soundtrack. Soundtrack.net (2004-08-07). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  9. ^ "Ronald Moore – Exclusive Video Interview". Entertainment Interviews. collider.com. June 7, 2007. http://www.collider.com/entertainment/interviews/article.asp/aid/4581/tcid/1. Retrieved December 27, 2008. 
  10. ^ Topel, Fred. "Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,ROBOT"and even the subject of phycohistory. Screenwriter's Utopia, 17 August 2004.

External links

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