DVD Review: I, ROBOT Collector's Edition

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I, ROBOT Collector's Edition

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 114 minutes, 2 discs of extras: three audio commentaries, Days Out of Days Production Diaries, CGI and Design featurettes, SENTIENT MACHINES featurettes, THREE LAWS SAFE featurettes, VFX How-Tos, and deleted scenes.


RELEASE DATE: 5-24-2005

ANALYSIS: I,ROBOT starts with a mystery of why a robot inventor for U.S. ROBOTICS aka USR, Dr, Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell) has committed suicide to draw us into the deeper issues of whether robots should have freedom, can the three laws of Robotics be circumvented, and will robots develop souls.

I, ROBOT is a visual treat with the technology, the buildings, the robots, and the cars. The acting is top notch. I, ROBOT is another masterpiece directed by Alex Proyas. He hasn't disappointed me yet. The other films I've seen by this director are THE CROW and DARK CITY. I, ROBOT can match those two movies easily in terms of visuals, action, and entertainment. Alex's visual style continues to develop to direct the movies he sees in his mind's eye. I, ROBOT revolves around Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) who has a paranoid feeling about robots. He is sent to investigate a suicide of Dr. Alfred Lanning when Lanning's hologram calls Spooner. He finds a robot hiding in Lanning's lab- a robot unlike any other, a robot named Sonny (Alan Tudyk). He teams up with Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), who works at USR, to find out why Lanning killed himself and what is going wrong with the robots.

The two disc Collector's Edition is a treat for fans of the movie. The CE has been available in other countries for months and it is about time it sees release in North America. The CE made me love I, ROBOT even more. Can we become too safe when we totally trust robots and an A.I. computer? Is Del Spooner right in his distrust of robots? What is the purpose of Lanning's death other than to show Spooner what is really going?! You guessed it. Sonny is part of the plan that Dr. Lanning set in motion with his death? Who or what is trying to stop Spooner? You have to watch the movie for that question in addition to whether robots can dream and will humanized robots be a threat. The scene with Spooner's car and the two robot tankers is one of my favorite scenes. I, ROBOT is an interesting and intelligent sci-fi action movie.

VIDEO/AUDIO: I, ROBOT is presented in 2.35 Anamorphic Widescreen.

Colors and blacks are fantastic while image detail is stunning. The transfer is the same as on the single disc.

Audio is also top notch. Dialogue comes through clear as a bell. Music and sound effects are good. Marco Beltrami's excellent score comes across nicely. You can hear the movie in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Surround, or Spanish 2.0 Dolby. Also there is a English 5.1 DTS track. English, French, and Spanish subtitle options are also available. I am disappointed FOX doesn't provide subtitle options for their special features (when other studios do it for many of their DVDs).


Disc ONE- Three audio commentaries have been recorded for the movie (two which are new to this edition). The first audio commentary is with Director Alex Proyas and Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (it is on the first DVD release). The second audio commentary is with Production Designer Patrick Tatopoulos, Editor Richard Learoyo, and the Visual Effects team. This commentary is pieced together from several commentaries that were recorded. The third commentary is with Composer Marco Beltrami. He talks about the score while the isolated score plays during times when he isn't talking. The second audio commentary mentions more robot violence in the Director's Cut and editing of the previs/animatics before the movie was even shot in Vancouver, British Columbia. That same commentary is full of info on the editing and effects of the movie. A very interesting listen.

MAKING OF I, ROBOT is a 12 1/2 featurette that shows several clips from the movie, interviews with the cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage, people in green tights (who will be replaced by CGI robots in post), and a little about the design of the city and cars of 2035 Chicago. The image gallery shows sketches, behind the scenes photos, and stills from the movie with the USR stamp on the stills. Also included is a trailer of the X2: X-MEN UNITED.


Disc TWO- DAYS OUT OF DAYS Production Diaries goes behind the scenes on the production of I,ROBOT from how much green screen was involved, the amount of motion capture, some previs footage of several scenes, the problems Alex Proyas had with locations and creating the city he wanted (with some digital sets), the actors having fun on set, and interviews with various cast and crew. I did like the part where one of the people in motion capture suits break dance on top of a prop car. CGI and Design featurettes show how Chicago of 2035, the robots, and various other things were created using CGI.

SENTIENT MACHINES featurettes focus on robotics research from robots such as Shakey to Cog to Kismet. Various experts in robotics (and Syd Mead) are interviewed (including a hot babe Robotics Professor from M.I.T.). The SENTIENT MACHINES featurettes are my favorite extra on disc two. Four THREE LAWS SAFE featurettes have Jeff Vintar talk about the I, ROBOT script and various robot stories, Akiva Goldsman chat about robots in cinema, and Robyn Asimov and Jennifer Brehl talk about Asimov and his robot stories (I liked the part where Robyn recounts a story where she and her father (Isaac Asimov) spot a U,F,O that turns out to be the GoodYear blimp). Also included on disc two are various Digital How-Tos from Digital Domain, Rainmaker, and Weta Digital. The deleted scenes amount to one boring deleted scene, an interesting extended scene, and two alternate endings: the original scripted ending (which I'm glad they didn't use) and a previs version of the final ending.

MENUS: The menus for disc one are cool, but the way to access the second disc of features is an index system. The second disc menus are very well designed and easy to use.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The I,ROBOT All-Access Collector's Edition is a must own for fans of I,ROBOT. The second disc is one of the best organized disc of useful extras covering the concepts and production of a movie.

this DVD Review is (c)5-11-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia