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Movie Info

 

RATING:

PG-13 for intense stylized action, and some brief partial nudity (see note and video alternative at bottom of the review)

RELEASE:

July 16, 2004

TIME:

1 hr., 55 min.

GENRE:

Sci-fi Thriller

STARRING:

Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood, Alan Tudyk

DIRECTOR:

Alex Proyas

PRODUCERS:

Topher Dow, John Davis, Laurence Mark, Will Smith

DISTRIBUTOR:

20th Century Fox

 

Please Note

In providing movie reviews on our site, CBN.com is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.

MOVIE REVIEW

I, Robot

By Phil Boatwright
The Movie Reporter

CBN.com - Set in 2035 Chicago, everyone now has an auto-driven car, a great parking system, and a robot to clean, prepare dinner and defend the household. But a tough, quick-witted and brooding cop, Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith), is suspicious that robotic handymen are also a menacing danger. And he's right. It seems a new program device placed in the new models overrides the built-in system that prevents the machines from harming humans. And like poor Kevin McCarthy in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," our hero can't get anyone to believe him.

Besides being thrillers aimed at keeping us glued to our seats, great sci-fi flicks often contain parables warning mankind of its capacity to self-destruct ("Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "The Day The Earth Stood Still") or allegories saluting man's nobler aspects and his endurance ("Signs," "The War of the Worlds"). But, the trouble with this genre is that it takes an extremely skilled directorial hand to be able to balance heady issues within the action/fantasy format. If the filmmaker goes too far one way, the result can be a bleak, melodramatic experience. If he goes too far in the other direction, the film can be silly nonsense with only one redeeming quality - CGI effects.

Here, the director tries to address themes of liberty, individual purpose and free will, but his exploration of human emotions seems superficial at times, while at other times they simply get overshadowed by endless car chases and battle scenes.

In other words, "I, Robot" is not great sci-fi. However, it is a good action movie. The action sequences are loud, busy and computer enhanced to eye-filling satisfaction. Also going for it: Will Smith. Handsome for the ladies, tough and swaggering for the guys, and funny and quick witted for everybody. Here, Smith cements his reputation as an action/adventure movie idol.

The film does include a lot of fantasy violence, with the lead nearly single-handedly doing battle against countless mechanical men. Some may view the violence in this film as a needed factor in resolving the good vs. evil conflict. Others may find the amount here far too aggressive for kids. I would advise against bringing children under the age of thirteen. Concerned parents may believe their offspring are already bombarded by desensitizing amounts of shoot-em-ups. And they're right.

My only other grievance concerns the profanity used by the film's star. At one point Smith's character admonishes a teen street kid for his abusive language. "Don't cuss, you're not good at it," he advises. Not a bad message, but it would have carried more weight had the star also refrained from such obscenity. After all, his sweet-spirited granny, who has raised him, attends church services. It is apparent that he loves and respects the elderly woman. It's a good possibility that she would have taught him not to take the Lord's name in vain. Unfortunately, actors all too often use the phrase to convey rage or annoyance.

When an actor uses God's name followed by a curse, it symbolizes the character's (and perhaps his own) lack of regard for spiritual matters and also for those in the audience who place meaning in the command found in Exodus 20:7. (Although many interpret that verse to simply mean we are not to use God's name to swear falsely, there is a solid argument that using the utterance "God----" is also an irreverence to our Creator because it is usually said in anger and frustration. So, am I saying, don't go to this film because there are four misuses of God's name? No. That's your call. I'm just hoping we don't get to the point where hearing profanity becomes acceptable. For the next step could be the incorporating of the curse into our own everyday dialogue.

Note: There are four profanities, nine obscenities, one crude sexual comment and several minor expletives. The movie also has two shower scenes, one revealing a man, the other a woman. However, the steam covered shower stalls prevents the complete view of naked bodies; the film mainly receives its rating for the violence, which includes car crashes, shootouts and many battles with robots.

Video Alternative: If your interests run more towards suspense and chills than the obliteration of attacking robots, allow me to suggest this video alternative: Signs. Farmer Mel Gibson discovers crop circles on his land. Soon the world is crawling with hostile aliens. Like Hitchcock, director M. Night Shyamalan builds tension through restraint. It's not what we see, but what we imagine that scares us. Besides being an arm-grabbing suspenseful thriller, "Signs" is an equally touching family drama. We get to know this broken family as they cope with the traumatic loss of a wife and mother. There is an intimacy in both script and presentation that causes us to care for these people. Added to the drama and suspense is the story's subtext about a man losing, then regaining his faith. The film also has an intriguing take concerning coincidence in our daily lives. Do things happen by chance or do they serve to develop our nature? Shyamalan's film is about finding our way - or finding our way back.


Phil Boatwright is the editor of The Movie Reporter. For more information, visit www.moviereporter.com. Review used by permission.

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