(20th Century Fox)
by Shanti Sadtler
I, Robot successfully combines the sci-fi and detective genres in a not entirely unrealistic future setting where robots do everything from delivering mail to rescuing humans in danger. What saves the movie from falling into the cult sci-fi trend is that most pedestrian acts aren’t entirely different from those of today, and the human characters are largely contemporary. Will Smith dresses like Shaft, carries a black handgun, and sports a stud earring and a fitted black hat. His character, Del Spooner, could be found in a modern detective film, or perhaps on an episode of Law & Order. Granted, much of his character is defined and affected by the robot-saturated setting, but his dress, reactions, and attitude are what you would expect of a leading detective role.
The use of the detective genre gives the film an added element of intrigue, and again saves it from being a mainly sci-fi film. The central mystery unfolds as you might expect it to: By a series of clues that lead the detective closer to the solution, but also sometimes astray. Smith’s character, unlike an early 20th Century detective, doesn’t have all the answers. He doesn’t wear a raincoat or carry a reporter’s notebook. He makes assumptions and judgments based on his prejudice against robots, making his character more compelling and multi-dimensional as he acts progressively more irrational. The story is told from his perspective, but his perspective isn’t entirely reliable or trustworthy, making the storyline more layered and convoluted.
Although the movie is based on centralized sci-fi trivia inherited from various pieces of robot literature, you don’t have to buy a robot costume and parade in public to understand or enjoy the movie. At the very least, you can always find entertainment in the chase and action scenes.
Bonuses include an audio commentary, making of the movie, still gallery, interactive movie exploration, production diaries, and more.