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I, Robot

A robot may not ... 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from I, Robot

The concept that robots could attack humans, which is the root of movie ideas such as Terminator and The Matrix, is credited to Karel Capek, a rather obscure Czech playwright in the 1920s. Thankfully, we also have Issac Asimov who came out with a way to protect ourselves, 3 Laws that give robots no reason, nor logic, to harm humans.

So, what's so special about this movie, you ask? Well, it managed to find a flaw in the laws, and one that is totally convincing at that - no cheating, no 'hey, it's just a dream after all', no deus ex machina.

Det. Del Spooner, played by the ever laidback Will Smith, is anything but laidback around robots. He distrusts them, which makes him very uncomfortable as the day when robots constitute 17% of the population becomes imminent. On the eve of that day, the man who created the robots is found dead outside of his room. Del immediately assumes it was a homicide by a robot, and soon enough finds a frightened and confused robot hiding at the scene of the crime, and one that has a name, Sonny. Joined by Dr. Susan Calvin (Moynahan), both try to solve the case.

Director Alex Proyas succeeds in creating an impression of the world of tomorrow that is both possible and interesting, and manages to be entirely different from the one seen in Minority Report. The robots themselves look pleasant yet otherworldly (especially the replacement NS- 5s), they move and think in such a way that they capture our hearts - explained by Dr Calvin that her job is to make them look more human. Sonny the robot, played by Alan Tudyk, is especially endearing. Films like these aim to get the audience more emotionally attached to the robotic characters than the human, and I'm happy to say this one succeeds.

The film also poses questions, and those who love questions will pick up on them but those who are unquestioning will not. It succeeds in being able to balance the eye-popping-candy blockbuster film people expect it to be and the thinking person's movie it really doesn't have to be.

Sebastian Ng

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)
2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)