I, Robot (movie)

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Template:Infobox Movie

I, Robot is a science fiction film released on July 16, 2004, loosely based on Isaac Asimov's Robot Series. Specifically, the name comes from the short-story collection I, Robot, although the plot is not directly based on any particular story or group of stories. The film is 115 minutes long.

The internal chronology of Asimov's Robot Series implies that any other adaptation would be a sequel to this film, since all his later short stories and novels follow I, Robot in the fictional timeline. However, should such a later adaptation be more faithful to the original source material, the use of the term "sequel" may become problematic. As of 2005, the Robot novel The Caves of Steel is under cinematic development at Universal Studios. If the series were to continue beyond that (rumors are circling that it will), films based on the other Asimov Robot novels (The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn, and Robots and Empire) and other works in the Foundation Series would also be made.


Plot outline

Set in 2035 Chicago, Illinois, the film stars Will Smith as Detective Del Spooner, who is faced with an unprecedented murder mystery. The suspect is the victim (Dr. Alfred Lanning, played by James Cromwell)'s robot Sonny (Alan Tudyk), but robots are bound by the Three Laws of Robotics, which should make this impossible. Spooner is aided by Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), a robopsychologist. As they investigate the crime, the world awaits the release of the latest and greatest offering from Lawrence Robertson (played by Bruce Greenwood)'s company, U.S. Robotics, the NS-5, amid predictions of a human:robot ratio of 5:1. But Spooner soon discovers that something is not right with the new release of robots. (As trivia, note that U.S. Robotics is a real-life maker of modems, named in honor of Asimov's fictional company, whose full name in the I, Robot collection is U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men.)

The central positronic brain, V.I.K.I. (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence), continuously uploads fresh software to each of the NS-5s and has developed an interpretation of the Three Laws which supports the robots running Earth as a benevolent dictatorship: the result is revolution. At a given hour the NS-5s destroy earlier models which run on a stricter interpretation of the Three Laws, capture Chicago's police station and enforce a curfew confining all humans to their homes thus igniting them to revolt. Lanning had become aware of VIKI's plans, but being under VIKI's close surveillance had to engineer a trail of clues to lead Spooner to the truth in time for him and Sonny to act to counter the threat. The film ends with the overthrow and destruction of VIKI and the rise of the robots under Sonny's leadership.


For many years, fans hoped that any movie based on Asimov's Robot stories would be based on an earlier screenplay written by Harlan Ellison with Asimov's personal support, which is generally perceived to be a relatively faithful treatment of the source material (see the article on the book for details).

The film ultimately made originally had no connections with Asimov, originating as a screenplay written in 1995 by Jeff Vintar, entitled Hardwired. Several years later, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights, and signed Alex Proyas up to direct; he is said to have started referring to the project as "I, Robot" almost immediately. At around the same time that the rights to use that name—and elements of Asimov's fiction—were acquired, Akiva Goldsman was hired to rewrite the script; some have speculated that a large proportion of this rewrite consisted of inserting references to Asimov into the existing plot.

Fan reaction and faithfulness to Asimov's works

The tone of the movie upset some fans of Asimov's works (which are almost devoid of scenes of explicit violence), as, for the most part, the movie is an action-oriented story, involving police and mobs fighting or evading hordes of rampaging robots. This "Frankenstein complex" or "robot as menace" type of story was something that Asimov repeatedly stated that he disliked. Asimov's robot stories, in contrast, were the first to treat robots as potentially useful tools, and explore more sensitively the effects they would have on lives, and their interactions with people. Only very rarely do Asimov's robots break the Three Laws (for instance, by harming a human being) and if they do, they are generally rendered inoperable as a result.

On the other hand, the film's key plot twist—a particular interpretation of the Three Laws—echoes those of many of Asimov's stories, which often turn on how robots behave when the Three Laws are put under unusual stresses. From a plot standpoint, it could be said that the broadest strokes of the movie are true to Asimov's stories; the unexplained pattern of robotic destruction and carnage ultimately seems to fall under Asimov's Zeroth Law, though it is not explicitly mentioned or discussed in the movie. The near-panic reaction of U.S. Robotics' management over damage to its public relations after discovering a robot that seemingly does not follow the Three Laws is also found in several of Asimov's stories.

Besides the Three Laws and the Zeroth Law, Calvin, Lanning, Robertson, and U.S. Robotics, the film is filled with numerous other references and allusions—both subtle and obvious—to many of Asimov's works. Examples include:

One key point should be made: although there are broad references to general themes Asimov put foward, the only "direct" connection to Asimov is the use of the Three Laws of Robotics. However, after Asimov created the laws they proved so popular with other writers that Asimov publicly gave permission to all writers to use them in non-Asimov stories (as long as they didn't quote them verbatim), essentially making them public domain. So, put this way, the largest claim this film has to being based on Asimov's works is that it uses the Three Laws, but many other scifi stories also use the Three Laws and are not considered connected to Asimov.


While the robots in the film are classified as "Nestor 4" and "Nestor 5" class, Asimov's only mention of this classification was the "Nestor 10" in the short story "Little Lost Robot". (In Greek mythology, Nestor was an Argonaut who later fought on the Greek side in the Trojan War.)

There are several references to Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. One of which is the Delivery robot in the beginning having the ID Number 42, which is, according to the book, the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything. Later, Detective Spooner says the only normal day he ever had was a Thursday, which is the day Arthur Dent could "never quite get the hang of."

See also

External links

de:I, Robot (Film) fr:I, Robot it:Io, Robot (film) ja:アイ,ロボット sk:Ja, robot (film) sv:I, Robot (film)


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