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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Thriller > Robots > I, Robot - All Access Collector's Edition (Fox DVD)

I, Robot (All Access Edition/DVD-Video)


Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: B     Film:  B-



My first reaction to hearing about the making of a film called I, Robot starring Will Smith was two fold.  First I saw what the robots looked like and could not help but think of Bjork’s video All is Full of Love, which is a brilliant video directed by Christ Cunningham.  That led to an inside joke among friends dubbing the film I, Bjork.  My second impulse was to think…’Oh no not another futuristic movie about robots having intelligence!’  After seeing the film, I quickly found out how right my impulses were. 


While I, Robot is probably a tad better then some of the other recent attempts like Minority Report, it suffers from “repeatitus”.  We have seen variations of this theme again and again, each time less interesting and more ambitious than its predecessor.  Why does it seem like every Sci-Fi film has to be another 2001: A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner, or even the Terminator series?  The answer to that can be boiled down to the fact that Sci-Fi is a hard sale, so why not ride on the waves of good fortune from the past.  Before going too far it should also be noted that a few others films were borrowed from this one included Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (reviewed on this site) and probably a few others that I am leaving out.


Oh and lets not forget all of the films that have been in some way about robots…the average Bicentennial Man, the horrendous creation that was A.I., The Stepford Wives (both original and remake), and even some of the films that hint around to some degree which would include anything from Lucas’s THX-1138 to Blade Runner and Logan’s Run.  Most of which deal with emotion and whether or not robots can interpret, understand, and/or have human emotion. 


Will Smith stars as a detective in the future world of Chicago where Robots have all the jobs and are almost like a secretary to the humans.  The robots have a built in control that keeps them in line so that they cannot hurt a humor or disobey an order from a human, which makes most humans very appreciative towards the robots.  Smith’s character is not quite as sold on the idea of robots being the future or the fact that they cannot hurt or kill like a human.  He believes that they have intentions, motives, agendas, etc. 


Alex Proyas, the director of The Crow and Dark City (a companion of sorts to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis), does a fine job here with some of the special effects and such, but the storyline is trite and executed with a little less than what would have been expected.  It’s hard to reintroduce old material and keep it exciting and most of the time you want to reach through the screen and strangle some of the characters for their stupidity.  The twist in the story occurs when the inventor of the bots ends up dead, he somehow fell in what looks like a suicide from the inside of the office building.  The case seems cut and dry until one of the bots is found hiding at the crime scene with emotions and feelings that go unexplained.  Crime cannot be committed by robots is the claim and since they are mechanical they can only be treated like a machine would in any accident and that is to destroy the equipment.  That solves the problem except the fact that thousands of robots are about to be deployed all over the city, which would make the ratio 5 bots to every 1 human…sounds like unfair odds if a war broke out.


Smith is good in his role, which is very similar to almost every role that he plays.  A smart remark there, some charm here, and then some action stunts to segue the two.  He is almost reprising his role from Men in Black only he is after robots instead of aliens.  Although I must say he makes for one of the better action stars in recent years.


The DVD presentation from Fox is outstanding in just about every category making this a nice addition to any collection if for no other reason than to showoff your equipment if that be the case.   The film is presented with the films intended 2.35 X 1 anamorphic ratio, which looks fantastic in all departments.  Colors are well balanced with whites and darks looking very detailed and accurate.  The digital work looks ok for the most part with a clean transfer it almost makes it look too fake, unlike some of the old model work from the days of old.


The sound design here is top notch and presented with the option of Dolby 5.1 or DTS 5.1, which are both good, but the DTS is just phenomenal in all aspects.  Voices are crystal clear, directional effects are accurately defined and spatially coherent.  Depth and dimension are superb and constantly remind the viewer that they are immersed into the world created.  Low end frequencies are constantly driving the film either in the score or in ambiances, while the soundstage becomes plastered with sound bouncing all over the room in nearly every scene.  What I particularly love is the balance of all of this and it never seems overdone or overkill.  This is certainly one of the better films of late to come out on DVD and sound this good.  I can only think of a few other Fox titles that sound this good on DVD, first of which would be Master and Commander (reviewed on this site).  Elektra and Daredevil are up there as well, also reviewed on this site.


Though this is basically the same sound and picture transfer as the previous widescreen edition reviewed on this site, I was more impressed with it than Nicholas Sheffo was, though we both agree it is one of the state of the art for DVD today.


Fox has labeled this reissue of I, Robot as the ‘all access’ edition, which is certainly an understatement because this is one jam-packed DVD!  Fans of the film will be shocked with the in-depth nature of the extras, which is unlike so many other discs out there that claim to have a bunch of extras, but most of it turns out to be marketing material or stuff you scroll through when your boredom has hit an all-time low. 


The main features of the regular edition (reviewed as well on this site) were basically just an audio commentary from director Alex Proyas and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, which has also been included in the all-access edition, but has added two more commentaries.  The first additional commentary track is from the production team including the editor, the production designer, and the visual effects team, while the second additional commentary track features the composer Marco Beltrami.  Each commentary is uniquely different and highlights various aspects, but Proyas’ commentary is probably the best overall. 


As if 3 commentary tracks weren’t enough there is a 4-hour interactive look at the film, which contains some of the most cutting edge ways of bringing the viewer into the moviemaking process and really redefines all-access as you truly feel like you are involved.  While it may be 4-hours in length, it’s worth the trip.  Also included in this 2-disc set are some other interesting extras including a production diary, some more featurettes that look closely at the CGI work, and then there are some segments that really play well for Sci-Fi aficionados, which looks at some of the themes played out in the genre and in this film specifically.  Fox really went the extra mile or two to make this edition worth picking up as a replacement for their earlier edition.  There are deleted scenes as well as alternate scenes to check out as well. 


It’s a shame that this could not have been the first and only release for the film because with the nice added features most people will probably want to upgrade to this one and that’s always a consumer gripe is that they went out and bought the first release and now have to cough up a few more bucks to get the definitive edition of the film.  Fox has been doing this more lately and this could be the start of an ongoing trend with most companies to release a barebones edition up front and then turn around a few months later with a packed edition.  If that is the case, most consumers will catch on and wait for the best edition because lets face it…when it comes to DVD’s people want the best version out there, so why not give it to them upfront?  That is a constantly asked question with too many answers to go into.  If you like the film, though, get this edition.


For more on the film, try these links:





First Widescreen DVD




-   Nate Goss


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