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In the year 2035, robots are an everyday household item, and everyone trusts them, except one, slightly paranoid detective (Will Smith) investigating what he alone believes is a crime perpetrated by a robot. The case leads him to discover a far more frightening threat to the human race. Inspired by the classic short story collection by Isaac Asimov.
For more about I, Robot and the I, Robot Blu-ray release, see I, Robot Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 12, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Starring: Will Smith (I), Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride
Director: Alex Proyas
» See full cast & crew
I, Robot Blu-ray Review
An entertaining and thought-provoking picture makes for a spectacular Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 12, 2008
When does a personality simulation become the bitter mote of a soul?
What happens when a classic tale founded on Isaac Asmiov's hardcore science fiction becomes a Hollywood big budget Will Smith sci-fi/action vehicle? The answer is 2004's I, Robot, a movie that definitely won't please audiences looking for a faithful reproduction of the famed author's work. Directed by Alex Proyas (Dark City), one of the better but perhaps lesser-known directors of this era, I, Robot falls somewhere between smart science fiction and mindless action. He weaves a tale that's both entertaining and deep, keeping the action up front but the more intellectual aspects of the story slightly veiled so as to never overwhelm the viewer with too much technical or psychological jargon. This approach works, and so does the movie. With a nearly perfect blend of exciting, death-defying action, top-notch special effects, mostly smart dialogue (with a few Will Smith witticisms thrown in) and some mind-bending intellectual concepts, it's no wonder that I, Robot enjoys mass appeal across a broad spectrum of movie goers.
In 2035 Chicago, mankind has become a slave to automation, depending on highly advanced, synthetic humanoid robots to do their bidding, from cooking and cleaning to running back home for a forgotten item. Built by the conglomerate U.S. Robotics, each robot is programed to follow three simple laws that are guaranteed to prevent them from becoming a harm to mankind. Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith, I Am Legend) is one man who is inherently suspicious of the robots and prejudiced towards these non-living, soulless entities. When the co-founder of U.S. Robotics, Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell, The Queen) commits suicide, Spooner and his liaison inside the corporation, Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan, Lord of War) discover a robot hiding in Lanning's office. This machine, named Sonny, is wired unlike any other, with advanced programming that allows him a certain "leeway" to operate outside the three laws and behave more like a human than a robot. Spooner and Calvin begin to piece together the mystery of this robot and a deeper conspiracy at the very heart of U.S. Robotics that could lead to humanity truly becoming a slave to the whim and will of machines.
What we get with I, Robot, after the excellent action sequences, is a pretty deep morality tale about trust, understanding, compassion, respect, and the dangers of placing too much faith in technology. Granted, the message isn't as profound as some of the more thought-provoking movies in recent memory like Gone Baby Gone, The Matrix, or Gattaca, but there's definitely room for post-movie thought and discussion, after you talk to your friends about the fantastic CGI, action sequences, and your new pair of Converse tennis shoes, of course. There is a reveal partway through the film that begins to tie everything together, and from there on we begin to understand the ethics, fears, and animosity Spooner harbors towards the mechanical beings. I, Robot definitely has a lot of positives going for it, and other than a rather bland performance by Bridget Moynahan, it makes for a solid two hours of fun, engaging, loud, and even intellectually stimulating entertainment.
I, Robot Blu-ray, Video Quality
This 1080p, 2.35:1 framed transfer from Fox is hands-down one of the very top transfers to hit Blu-ray yet. I'm tempted to say it's the best, but several other discs would definitely have something to say about that. Suffice it to say, however, what you're looking at here is probably as close to perfection as we're going to see for a while. It doesn't hurt that I, Robot is a slick, glossy looking movie to begin with, and this Blu-ray edition reproduces every single frame with darn near perfection. This image features absolutely fantastic and robust color reproduction, perfect skin tones, and extremely high detail. The opening close-up shot of Will Smith is stunning, and the disc never looks back. The imagery of future Chicago is first-rate. A distance shot of the city is crystal clear with nary a fault to be seen. The print is meticulously clean and absolutely free of any noticeable defects. This is one of the most natural and beautiful images yet on Blu-ray. In fact, it very well may be the best. Black levels are spot-on perfect. Even the leather on Will Smith's jacket looks glossy and clear as day; the intricate details in the material itself are clearly visible. The image is impeccably sharp and clean from edge to edge and top to bottom, never soft. The special effects hold up very, very well in this one. Simply stated, if you are looking for the perfect demo disc to show off that fancy new 1080p television set and your Blu-ray player, picking up and using this movie is a no-brainer.
I, Robot Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The good folks over at Fox and DTS have done it again. I, Robot is reference material through and through. As strikingly beautiful as the video quality is, the audio matches it frame for frame, making for perhaps the finest audio/video combination yet on the young Blu-ray format. Right from the opening credits listeners are treated to spectacular sound envelopment, and you'll feel like you're underwater. Musical reproduction is excellent, sounding clean and bright with a striking realism that puts the orchestra in your living room, playing live. The surround channels are used almost incessantly in both action and standard fare scenes. For instance, a public address announcement plays over your shoulder as Spooner first enters the U.S. Robotics building early in the film. Of course, they're also filled with the sounds that accompany the action as well as some pulse-pounding music and effects. Effects pan well, and imaging is excellent, creating an immersive and complete 360-degree sound field. Of course, no movie of this category would be complete without a few rumbles of the subwoofer, and in that area, I, Robot delivers, big time. Like that found on another recent Will Smith movie to hit Blu-ray, Independence Day, this LFE track is first-class. Machine gun fire in chapter 11 sounds out of this world good, almost devastating on the ears at reference level, pounding the chest like few other soundtracks do. In chapter 15, when the home wrecker robot goes to work, bass is so strong that almost any superlative you want to throw out there will do justice to what we hear. The entire scene is a home theater seller, and perhaps one of the best yet. Of course, there are several other absolutely stunning sequences throughout the film, too many to list here, but listening to this disc is definitely a feast for the ears. I'm simply dumbfounded by the quality of these DTS-HD MA releases from Fox. It is my favorite of the three high definition codecs, and I hope more and more players get the capability to play them back so more users can hear it. This is stunning stuff.
I, Robot Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
I, Robot comes to Blu-ray replete with special features, including personal scene selection, D-Box motion code, and a set of "in-movie" supplements that are accessed via the color buttons on your remote control. Of course, all the features are accessible outside the movie as well via the main menu. The red button will take you to a feature entitled Behind the Camera where you can access documentaries focusing on the making of I, Robot, deleted scenes, and more. Each of the following are divided into short, manageable nuggets that compliment the goings-on in the movie at the point in time in which they are presented if you choose to select them during the course of the film, and they vary in length and are presented in 480p: Day Out of Days: 'I, Robot' Production Diaries (480p, 1:16:33), CGI and Design (480p, 21:29), Sentient Machines: Robotic Behavior (480p, 35:58), The Filmmakers' Toolbox (480p, 8:43), and Extended and Deleted Scenes (480p, 6:48).
The green button allows viewers to see what each commentary track has to offer at each particular point in time before selecting one to listen to. I, Robot includes no less than three feature length commentary tracks, all tied together nicely by the in-movie experience as listed above. This really makes it easy for viewers to watch the film and switch over to a particular track that suits their interests for each scene, and makes all the tracks more accessible, the audiences more likely to listen, and my job of describing them rather superfluous. Each track is engaging and entertaining, and switching from one to another is a breeze. The first of the three features director Alex Proyas and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman; the second, a "Legacy and Design" track, features an array of participants including screenwriter Jeff Vintar, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, editor Richard Learoyd, visual effects supervisor John Nelson, associate producer John Kilkenny, animation supervisor Andrew Jones, and visual effects supervisor Erik Nash (the last two are both from Digital Domain); the third track features composer Marco Beltrami.
The blue button will access a search index that will let you call up just about anyone and anything in the movie, listed alphabetically, and view the scenes they appear in. The yellow button allows the viewer to read the Annotated Guide to the movie that includes trivia about real-world robots, author Isaac Asimov and, of course, the movie itself. It offers some pretty deep thoughts on the story, including, for example, Sonny's role as a Messiah. All tied together via the "in-movie" experience, this exciting set of supplements is groundbreaking in their presentation, well worth a look, and marred only by the standard-definition quality of the features.
I, Robot Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It's strange giving rave review after rave review recently, but if the studios keep churning out top- notch product, I'm more than happy to continue writing glowing reviews. I, Robot proves once again that Fox is one of the leading studios currently producing Blu-ray content, both in terms of the quality of their films and the quality of the discs they release. Even though this movie doesn't stay very true to the stories of Isaac Asimov, it's still a great thrill ride, replete with plenty of exciting action, fantastic visuals and special effects, and a very good story. Fortunately, all of this is presented in a spectacular Blu-ray package that rivals anything on the market today. The audio and video qualities are second to none, and the special features are comprehensive and presented in a new, groundbreaking way. I generally don't give out the highest of recommendations unless the movie scores a perfect 5 with me, but I'm going to bend that rule on this one. I, Robot on Blu-ray receives my highest recommendation.
I, Robot: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with I, Robot (3 bundles)
I, Robot Blu-ray, News and Updates
• I, Robot Delayed - November 1, 2007
Fox Home Entertainment has revealed that the highly anticipated Blu-ray release of I, Robot has been delayed until 2008. It will be worth the wait, however, as many special features are being planned for the title. Blu-ray.com received a screening of the title ...
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