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Alex Proyas
Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk
Writing Credits:
Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman

In 2035, a technophobic cop investigates a crime that may have been perpetrated by a robot, which leads to a larger threat to humanity.

Box Office:
$120 million.
Opening Weekend:
$52,179,887 on 3420 screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 3/11/2008

• Audio Commentary with Director Alex Proyas and Writer Akiva Goldsman
• Audio Commentary with Production Designer Patrick Tatopoulos, Editor Richard Learoyd, Visual Effects Supervisor John Nelson, Associate Producer John Kilkenny, Animation Supervisor Andrew Jones, and Visual Effects Supervisor Brian Van’t Hul
• Audio Commentary/Isolated Score with Composer Marco Beltrami
• “Annotated Guide” Text Commentary
• “The Making of I, Robot Documentary
• “Day Out of Days: The I, Robot Production Diaries”
• CGI and Design Featurette
• “Three Laws Safe: Conversations about Science Fiction and Robots” Featurette
• “The Filmmakers’ Toolbox Compositing Breakdowns: Visual Effects How Tos”
• Three Extended and Deleted Scenes
• Easter Eggs


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


I, Robot [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 17, 2021)

One danger involved in the adaptation of a well-known book revolves around complaints from the novel’s fans. Anything that alters the tone of the original usually receives negative attention.

When trailers for I, Robot made it look like pretty standard sci-fi action fare, many fans cried foul and judged the movie as brainless summer nonsense before it ever hit the screens.

Since I never read the original, I can’t directly compare the two. Does Robot accurately replicate the source? Maybe not, but it offers a sporadically entertaining action flick.

Set in Chicago circa 2035, the film immediately tells us of three laws related to robots. They can’t harm humans whether by action or inaction, they must always do what humans tell them, and they must act to preserve their own existences. The second law functions only when it doesn’t conflict with the first, and the final one can’t happen if it’ll mess with the other two.

In this setting we meet Del “Spoon” Spooner (Will Smith), a homicide detective with a decided anti-robot bent. We see this in action when he views a robot running with a purse. Spoon assumes it’s a thief and pursues it but discovers it was simply rushing to bring an asthma inhaler to its owner.

Spoon’s chief Lt. John Bergin (Chi McBride) chastises him, which allows us to learn that no robot has ever committed a crime. Their interaction also alludes to a personal tragedy in Spoon’s life, and we later find out what happened there and its ramifications.

Spoon gets a call that leads him to US Robotics. There we see that Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell) apparently killed himself, but a holographic image with which Spoon interfaces hints that somethjng else might be at work.

Spoon then meets with the company’s chief, multijillionaire Lawrence Robertson (Bruce Greenwood), and chats about the incident. We find out that Lanning was a genius who essentially acted as the father of robotics.

Spoon and Robertson don’t exactly hit it off, partly due to the detective’s dislike of robots. Although everyone thinks Lanning killed himself, Spoon doesn’t totally accept that and he pokes around to investigate.

Sexy Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan) escorts him. We learn that USR will soon make a huge robotic distribution, so this isn’t exactly good timing for them.

Since the detective doesn’t accept that his friend killed himself, he thinks a robot might have done it. His suspicions start to make sense when one pops up out of the blue and flees against orders. Spoon gives chase with Calvin along for the ride, although she continues to push the robot’s innocence since she doesn’t believe a droid could act to harm a person.

Eventually Spoon tracks the robot in question, and the authorities bring it into custody. Against his chief’s better judgment, he allows Spoon a chance to interrogate the droid.

He finds out that the robot is a prototype that Lanning was teaching to experience emotions, and he also has a name: Sonny (voiced by Alan Tudyk). Sonny denies that he killed Lanning, but his attitudes indicate something weird’s at work.

Spoon becomes even more suspicious when Robertson comes back to claim Sonny. He indicates they’ll decommission the robot after a quick inquiry, and that piques Spoon’s curiosity. The rest of the movie follows his continued investigation and the twists that occur along the way.

Smith seems miscast in the role due to the anger and pain that should inform the part. He’s just too naturally genial to convey those emotions, at least as enacted here.

It feels like Smith went into “summer blockbuster” mode and couldn’t tap into the role’s darker side. He falls back on old comic book habits that make him charismatic but inappropriate for this kind of haunted, unhappy character.

Actually, I suppose I shouldn’t blame Smith, as director Alex Proyas delivers a consistently comedic tone throughout the movie. This occasionally works, but on other times, it comes across as forced and inappropriate.

When the movie does attempt to get more dramatic or philosophical, we don’t buy it since we’ve already seen the flick as such a light experience. The movie often feints as though it wants to give us something deeper, but then it bounces back with comedy to undercut those movements.

It doesn’t help that the plot tries so desperately to throw us off-course. The flick beats us over the head with the concept that Robertson’s the villain.

It does this so heavily that it becomes virtually inevitable that Robertson isn’t the baddie. Any movie with so many obvious red herrings gets tedious. The mystery keeps us slightly interested just to ultimately figure out what really did happen, but even the resolution proves unsatisfying since it comes out of left field.

When Robot avoids all its philosophical and emotional trappings and just engages in action, it does well for itself. The movie’s climax works nicely, and a few other set pieces also manage to bring the beast to life.

It helps that the film’s effects are very well-executed. The CG robots are truly believable, and the elements manage to create a smooth futuristic setting.

I wanted to like I, Robot, as I figured it might provide a kicky sci-fi action flick. Occasionally it manages to do so, but too much of the movie doesn’t go anywhere. The film doesn’t get into its story well or develop much else, and that renders it inconsistent.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio A / Bonus A

I, Robot appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. At all times, this became a strong presentation.

Sharpness appeared crisp and well defined. At no time did I discern any examples of soft or hazy images; the movie always seemed very accurate and clear. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns, and I witnessed no edge hales or print defects.

The world of Robot went with a clean, bright setting that accentuated whites and blue/greens. Colors tended to be subdued due to this, but they always looked appropriately rendered within those confines. Given the stylistic choices, the hues seemed solid.

The disc transmitted blacks in a deep and dark manner. Contrast appeared strong, and shadow detail was quite clear and appropriately opaque without any excessive heaviness. Overall, I, Robot provided a distinctive picture that was always a pleasure to watch.

Even better was the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. The soundfield appeared very broad and engaging throughout the movie.

All five speakers got a strong workout as they displayed a lot of discrete audio. This made for a convincing environment as we heard plenty of atmosphere and objects swirl actively and appropriately about us.

Segments like the car chase in which the robots attack Spoon stood out as particularly dynamic, but a mix of action sequences kicked things into high gear. All these elements created excellent feelings of place and brought the material to life well.

Sound quality also appeared very good. Dialogue was crisp and distinct. Speech showed no signs of edginess or any problems related to intelligibility.

Effects were always clear and dynamic, plus they displayed virtually no signs of distortion even when the volume level jumped fairly high; throughout explosions, crashes, and various elements, the track stayed clean.

Music sounded appropriately bright and accurate and portrayed the score appropriately. The mixes featured some pretty solid bass at times, and the entire affair seemed nicely deep. The soundtrack acted as an excellent complement to the visuals.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2005 Collector’s Edition DVD? Audio showed greater depth and range, while visuals were tighter, smoother and more precise. As good as the DVD was, the Blu-ray topped it.

(Note that I thought the 2005 CE and the original 2004 DVD looked/sounded virtually identical, so comparisons between the Blu-ray and the first DVD match what I said above.)

The Blu-ray repeats the CE’s extras, and we get three separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Alex Proyas and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, both of whom sit separately and have the results edited together for this track.

A nice mix of topics pops up here. We get a lot of information about the story’s evolutions and various changes, characters and their development, and a few comparisons with the original text.

We also learn a bit about the production itself, with notes about sets, locations, visual design, and effects. The piece covers the movie well and provides a good overview of the flick’s major issues.

For the second commentary, we hear from production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, editor Richard Learoyd, visual effects supervisor John Nelson, associate producer John Kilkenny, animation supervisor Andrew Jones, and visual effects supervisor Brian Van’t Hul.

A few sit together for this edited piece, but it’s hard to tell at times. Clearly the commentary focuses on technical topics, and it covers them quite concisely.

The main issues discussed include sets and general visual concerns, the uses of computer effects as well as practical elements, storytelling and editing, and the design of the various robots.

Particulars connected to Sonny receive the most information in that latter realm, though all the droids are discussed here. The technical nature of the chat occasionally makes it a little dry, but it usually avoids those pitfalls as it offers a mostly lively and informative piece.

Finally, we get a track from composer Marco Beltrami. He offers screen-specific remarks and we also hear some isolated score, though because Beltrami occasionally speaks over the music, you’ll not find the entire score on its own.

Beltrami covers quite a few relevant topics. He discusses his approach to his work, the specifics of his Robot score and its cues, and various challenges. He also chats about the different processes such as orchestration and recording and offers a nice glimpse inside his world.

While I liked Beltrami’s comments, I must admit I don’t care for this format. Since the composer talks over many cues, the set-up won’t be satisfying for fans of movie scores.

Because the composer speaks relatively infrequently, the program becomes frustrating for those who just want commentary. I’d prefer either a commentary or an isolated score; these compromise tracks can be problematic.

New to the Blu-ray, an Annotated Guide offers a text commentary. It looks at the source novel and its adaptation, story/character choices, historical notes about robots and other scientific notions, cast and performances, sets, effects and visual design, and related topics.

On the positive side, the “Guide” gives us a nice overview of useful topics. It covers a good array of domains and does so in a rich, informative manner.

On the negative side, the presentation can be distracting. Whereas most text commentaries feature complete statements on screen all at once, the “Guide” only shows one line at a time, even if this means it cuts off sentences.

This forces us to stare at the text more often than usual, and this makes it tougher to watch the movie. That presentation issue aside, the “Guide” becomes a very good text commentary.

Next we shift to Day Out of Days: The I, Robot Production Diaries. These segments add up to one hour, 16 minutes, 33 seconds of footage.

We get a few remarks from Proyas about locations, effects and whatnot, but the vast majority of the time, we see raw footage from the various sets. Occasionally participants will chime in from those locations, but the emphasis sticks with “fly on the wall” elements from the production.

And that’s fine with me, as I enjoy that sort of footage. Admittedly, more than an 75 minutes of this material can be a lot to take in one session, as some of it starts to look a lot alike, and the lack of much annotation means matters can be a bit dry. Nonetheless, if you take the segments in pieces, they’re easier to digest, and they certainly give us a lot of fine shots from the production.

CGI and Design splits into five subdomains. All together, they run 21 minutes, 29 seconds as they present info from Proyas, Tatopoulos, Jones, visual effects supervisor Dale Fay, digital effects supervisor John Berton, miniature effects supervisor Dave Asling, miniature effects DP Bill Neil, robot movement consultant Paul Mercurio, and actor Alan Tudyk.

As expected, this area looks at various aspects of character design for the robots as well as how the filmmakers brought them to life. This turns into a compelling overview.

Sentient Machines: Robotic Behavior includes eight chapters and fills a total of 35 minutes, 58 seconds. It involves Proyas, MIT Media Lab Robotic Life Group director Professor Cynthia Breazeal, iRobot Corp. chair/co-founder Helen Greiner, conceptual illustrator Ralph McQuarrie, science advisor Daniel Kubat, iRobot Corp. CEO/co-founder Colin Angle, futurist Syd Mead, MIT Computer Science and AI Lab director Rodney Brooks, artist Pat Keck, Tufts University Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies Daniel C. Dennett, Intelligent Autonomous Systems Lab engineer Professor Alan FT Winfield, Cyberlife Research director Steve Grand, iRobot Corp., author Ray Kurzweil, and lead research scientist James McLurkin.

“Sentient” discusses the development of robots over the years. Though it includes some interesting material, it feels a bit scattershot and not as coherent an investigation as I’d like.

Four Deleted Scenes last six minutes, 48 seconds. These mainly offer short character additions, but we get some alternate ending ideas as well.

Three Compositing Breakdowns: Visual Effects “How Tos” wrap up the disc. These come from Digital Domain (4:05), Weta Digital (1:47) and Rainmaker (2:51). All show scenes at various stages of effects completion, and they become a fun addition.

Although I, Robot occasionally aspires to some philosophical and emotional depth, it doesn’t have the spirit to follow through on its goals. This makes it an erratic flick, one with some good action segments but not much else. The Blu-ray presents excellent picture and audio as well as a strong roster of supplements. While the movie doesn’t work as well as I’d like, this becomes a terrific Blu-ray.

To rate this film visit the original DVD Review of I, ROBOT

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main