|| I, Robot
|One Line Review
These Aren’t Asimov’s Robots, They’re All Hollywood.
Review – In 1939 Isaac Asimov wrote his first robot story. In 1942 Asimov coined the phrase “robotics” and put the “3 Laws of Robotics” into print. Over the next 35 years he would continue to explore the workings of humans and robots through mostly short fiction. The best (and most complete) collection of Asimov’s stories can be found in one volume entitled, The Complete Robot. I highly recommend it.
I, Robot the film, is “suggested by Isaac Asimov’s book” of the same name. I, Robot the book, is a collection of 9 of Asimov’s robot short stories tied together by a journalist interviewing the Robot Psychologist, Susan Calvin. The literary Calvin, a shrewed and exceptional talent, appeared in no less than ten of Asimov’s short robot fiction of which he produced over thirty such stories in just under forty years.
As a fan of Science Fiction I have read all but a few of Asimov’s short robot fiction. They stand the test of time as thought provoking, entertaining, and ground breaking works of fiction. I, Robot the film, is fairly entertaining, yet in none of the ways Asimov’s stories are.
I, Robot is all Hollywood. The film is only “suggested by Asimov’s book”. That makes sense because Asimov’s robots appeared largely in short stories. Outside of Robin Williams’ “Bicentennial Man” no other Asimov robot stories have been adapted. So they take a few ideas, “3 Laws of Robotics” and a few names, Susan Calvin, Alfred Lanning, Lawrence Robertson, and they fill in the blanks Hollywood-style.
I, Robot is a typical sci-fi murder mystery. Taking a problematic racist cop, played well by Will Smith, and giving him just enough interest and desire to topple the world conglomerate, United States Robotics. It’s story by the numbers folks. In typical Hollywood style, Asimov’s characters are undone and turned into pretty cardboard set pieces. Nice to look at but undeniably shallow and well off their original mark.
The same is true for the storyline. Asimov’s robots are illegal on Earth; up until the time of Bicentennial Man, I believe, which was written in 1976. Asimov saw the writing on the wall very early. “A robot in every home” leads to some very typical and easy storytelling. What I believe Asimov would describe as “quite boring”. I, Robot, the film, proves the point of typical, easy storytelling and I’m sure you can see where that road leads to.
Turn Down The Lights, Turn Up The Sound.
Matthew Gilbert © 1999-2015 All Rights Reserved
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