Science fiction and fantasy
an Alex Proyas film
Why would Dr Lanning kill himself when he had no apparent reason to, and why would he leave a cryptic message for Del Spooner in particular? On examining Dr Lanning's office Spooner comes across Sonny, a prototype robot with more personality than the others. Sonny is made from a stronger alloy and has been programmed to ignore the three laws under certain circumstances. He denies killing his maker, but then pulls a gun on Spooner and escapes.
Sonny is unique rather than merely an upgrade. Spooner and Susan Calvin, the stiff robot psychologist who helps him with his inquiries, start to talk about him as a person rather than as a machine. Fortunately we don't spend too long on sticky sentimentality in the style of Artificial Intelligence as they ponder the mystery of a robot's soul.
The film is slick and futuristic, with graphics that are not dissimilar to Minority Report. There are enormous, frenetic cities, clean yet thronging with activity. I, Robot is atmospheric and engrossing, doing justice to Isaac Asimov's book. This is not just a Will Smith vehicle, although he does inject some humour into what is one of his more serious roles.
Humanoid robots that can walk, smile, and perform simple tasks are not so far from reality, even though ones as smart as those in I, Robot are still a matter of science fiction. But the theme of mankind being brought down by its own creation has as much currency now as it did when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein.
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