In 2035 A.D., robots serve man in all aspects of society. Chicago Police Detective John Spooner’s (Smith) distrusts robots and believes robots might one day turn bad. Spooner receives a message from Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell) to investigate his own murder. Lanning works at U.S. Robotics where he invented the robots and the three laws which govern the robots’ interaction with humans. While investigating the murder of Lanning, Spooner runs across a rogue robot named Sonny (Tudyk), who is believed to have gone bad and killed the doctor. U.S. Robotics threatens to sue the police if this info leaks out. U.S. Robotics regains possession of Sonny and plans on destroying him. Aiding Spooner in his investigation is a U.S. Robotics psychologist, Dr. Susan Calvin (Moynahan), who specializes in the psyches of robots. Spooner still believes that the robots will turn bad and he’s given just cause to believe so. Calvin believes Spooner’s beliefs are unfounded and impossible.
The story isn’t too original but it’s entertaining. It had the concepts of Robin Williams’ Bicentennial Man, Animatrix (prequel to The Matrix), and The Terminator. It is a simple but interesting. It’s basically man vs. machine.
The atmosphere is very futuristic and every scene shows a lot of technology. Near the end, it gets darker in tone but not appearance.
Will Smith plays Detective Del Spooner, the sarcastic robo-phobic detective whose role is of major importance, much more than anyone knows. Smith is great and witty yet heroic. He’s really perfected his acting since his Fresh Prince days.
Bridget Moynahan plays Susan Calvin, the U.S. Robotics psychologist who is aiding Spooner’s investigation and believes the robots are infallible.
Alan Tudyk plays Sonny, the rogue robot who’s developed emotions, personality, and self identity. He’s implicated in the murder of Dr. Alfred Lanning. His body’s CGI but his voice and mannerisms are his. Sonny’s a very likeable character who questions his existence.
James Cromwell plays Dr. Alfred Lanning, the inventor of the robots and the three laws, who’s murdered. But was it murder? Cromwell’s a great veteran actor and always delivers.
Bruce Greenwood plays Lawrence Robertson, the arrogant owner of U.S. Robotics. He insists the robots are safe.
Adrian Ricard plays Granny, Spooner’s grandmother.
Chi McBride plays Lt. John Bergin, Spooner’s boss and one of his closest friends. He’s skeptical of Spooner’s beliefs. Great, likeable character!
Fiona Hogan plays the voice of V.I.K.I., the U.S. Robotics. central core intelligence for all robots.
Very clear and futuristic. There are several special shots.
This movie’s nearly all SFX and CGI-generated FX but since this is a very fictional and futuristic story. So a lack of CGI would stand out badly. Some of it did seem a tad jumpy but not bad. The music is done by the relative newcomer and up and coming great, Marco Beltrami, who does a good soundtrack here.
If you liked Animatrix (the prequel to The Matrix), you’ll like this. I didn’t care for the uniform robot design and the story isn’t too original. The action is great with a few killer scenes. But the real star is Will Smith, whose personality and humor make this movie overcome the negative factors. It’s worth a view though.