DVD Review: I, ROBOT

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DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 114 minutes, Inside Look previews, Still Gallery, making of I, Robot featurette, and movie commentary


RELEASE DATE: 12-14-2004

ANALYSIS: I, ROBOT is the best Sci-Fi movie of 2004. It does almost enter in with a tie with THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, but it does leap ahead with it's mix of sci-fi neo-noir, humor, and action. 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 at USR when Lanning's hologram calls Spooner on the eve of a big Robot rollout which will mean one robot for every five humans. He finds a robot hiding in Lanning's lab- a robot unlike any other, a robot named Sonny (Alan Tudyk). Spooner suspects that Sonny killed Lanning despite everyone saying the three laws of Robotics make it impossible.  He teams up with Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), who works at USR, to find out about the truth behind Lanning's death and what is going wrong with the robots.

VIDEO/AUDIO: I,ROBOT presents one of the better transfers FOX has ever done. The movie on the DVD is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreeen. Colors and blacks are fantastic while image detail is stunning.

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.

SPECIAL FEATURES: 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. I do wish this DVD release had the many featurettes on the movie that are on the 2-disc edition in the UK. The image gallery shows sketches, behind the scenes photos, and stills from the movie with the USR stamp on the stills.

The audio commentary track for the movie is with director Alex Proyas and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. I think the most insight on the movie comes from Akiva as he reveals what changed from the original script that Jeff Vintar wrote and the scenes that existed in different forms. Proyas likes to talk about the characters in the story during the course of the track, but you do get some insight into the filming of the movie like his praise for the performance for Alan Tudyk, parts of the movie were refined during the editing stage (no reshoots), the house demolition sequence, a nice scene they had to cut for pacing, and complaints about production managers.

PREVIEWS: Forced trailers for DAY AFTER TOMORROW, MAN ON FIRE, and ALIEN VS. PREDATOR pop up before you get to the main menu. INSIDE LOOK which you can access from the main menu has a trailer for MR AND MRS. SMITH, a featurette on ROBOTS, and behind-the-scenes of ELEKTRA.

MENUS: The menus have been in my top 10 for the best menus that were designed for a DVD in 2004. They are a beautiful thing to look at visually with the combination of sound and video.

DESIGN: The slip case to reveal the DVD case art is rather neat. This is the way you should do a slipcase if you include it to slip over a DVD case instead of having art for the DVD cover sleeve.

FINAL ANALYSIS: I,ROBOT is an excellent sci-fi movie with a great transfer on DVD. The DVD is short on extras, but a two disc Special Edition will be released in North America down the road. If you have problems with double dipping on releases, I suggest you rent the DVD or buy a previously viewed copy (or a new copy when some great sales are happening) while you wait for FOX to get the 2 disc SE released here.

this DVD Review is (c)12-7-2004 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia