Review by MaceVindaloo
Director: Alex Proyas
Rating: Star Destroyer
The main problem with making a movie from a well-loved piece of modern classic literature, as Peter Jackson found out when he made Lord of the Rings, is that the fans of the book really don't like changes in the story line. In this case it was much easier, because the producers didn't use much from the original story. The only thing that used from the Asimov original was the title, the idea of robots in opposition to humans (sort of), and the three basic laws of robotics which define robot behavior.
Some consider this movies as a great disservice to the memory of Asimov. Some think that the movies should have named something else. Some think that the script should have stuck more to the original plot lines. I however think that "some people" are morons. This movie was designed and built to be a summer blockbuster. It delivered on all the action, drama and star-power that movie-goers have come to expect in a summer release.
Summary: The year is 2035 and Del Spooner, played by Will Smith, is a cop who is just returning to work after recovery and rehabilitation from a serious vehicle accident. A robot who witnessed the crash had saved his life, but does so at the expense of a 12-year-old girl who was also injured. Although the robot made a "technically" right decision based on triage survivability (the chances of the girl surviving were lower), Spooner is haunted by the fact that the robot did not -- and cannot -- take into account the intangible, illogical thoughts a human would have considered in deciding whom to save. Therein lies his distrust of all things robotic in a time when all things are touched by robotics. Although robots are made in our image, they do not make human decisions and are limited to the skill of the programmer.
The main robot in the movie, Sonny, has been built and programmed specially to be far more advanced than any of his contemporaries. The advanced robot claims to dream and have "conscious" thoughts very different from those of others of his kind.
The real power in this movie, which seems to have been missed by most movie-goers (and for that fact, most reviewers), is not that it is a bang-up action movie, or that it ruined a written classic, but that is it remarkably deep and thought-provoking, especially for a summer release. Makes you think, "What is it that makes us human? What is it that makes it impossible for robots to become human? Where is the line between those points? Does it blur?"
Read the book. Watch the movie. Decide for yourself! Diana Deriggs wrote an essay (To Be or Not To Be) that argues and elucidates these points very well. Give it a read.
As for the movie, enjoy it as it's own entity, without the literary and emotional baggage of its venerable predecessor.
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