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I, Robot is a 2004 science fiction-action film. The film was directed by Alex Proyas and produced by John Davis, Topher Dow, Wyck Godfrey, Laurence Mark and Will Smith. The screenplay was penned by Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman and Hillary Seitz and is very loosely based on Isaac Asimov's short-story collection of the same name. Will Smith starred in the lead role of the film as Detective Del Spooner, who hates robots and dislikes their integration into daily human life. Other members of the cast include Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, Alan Tudyk, and Shia LaBeouf. The film was released in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker on July 16, 2004 and on July 22, 2004 in Australia. The film was released in United Kingdommarker on August 6, 2004 and in other countries between July 2004 to October 2004.

The film earned US$144,801,023 in North America and US$202,433,893 in foreign markets. In total, the film earned US$347,234,916 worldwide, with a budget of US$120 million.


The story takes place in 2035 Chicagomarker, in a world in which robots are commonly seen and used as servants. Del Spooner (Smith) is a Chicago police detective who dislikes the rapid advancement of technology, including robots. This is due to a robot saving Spooner from an automobile accident during which a girl in another car drowned; the robot saved him instead of the girl because it had computed that he had the best probability of surviving. Left with survivor's guilt and a mechanical arm from the accident, Spooner is sent to investigate the apparent suicide of Dr. Alfred Lanning (Cromwell), a robotics scientist and founder of U.S. Robotics (USR).

Spooner suspects that Lanning was murdered and, with the reluctant help of USR robopsychologist Susan Calvin (Moynahan), seeks answers to the mystery. Unlike older models, USR's new NS-5 robots are controlled from the company's supercomputer VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence); Spooner believes that an independent, experimental, and more human-like NS-5 unit, Sonny (Tudyk), killed Lanning. If true, the robot broke the Three Laws of Robotics, and may presage other dangerous robots, which would be a disaster for USR's business. Spooner informs the head of USR, Lawrence Robertson (Greenwood); he orders Calvin to deactivate Sonny. During Spooner's investigation, however, several attempts on his life are made by USR robots and equipment.

Spooner learns that Lanning gave Sonny the ability to keep secrets, in the form of dreams. He goes to the place that Sonny described in a dream (the now dried-up Lake Michiganmarker, used as a storage area for defunct USR robots) and discovers that NS-5s are destroying the older robots, which are independent of central control and thus cannot be subverted. NS-5s around Chicago and the nation begin imprisoning humans in their households and forcing those outside to go home. Humans and robots battle, but the robots are stronger and faster. Spooner rescues Calvin from her own robot and both sneak into the USR campus with the assistance of Sonny (Calvin had deactivated another NS-5 unit instead). Believing that Robertson is responsible for the robot uprising they enter his office, but discover that Robertson is dead. Spooner deduces that the only one left who could be responsible is VIKI, which not only controls all NS-5s but also partially controls Chicago's infrastructure.

Despite its Three Laws programming, as VIKI's artificial intelligence evolved, so too did its interpretation of the laws. VIKI decided that in order to protect humanity as a whole "some humans must be sacrificed and some freedoms must be surrendered", as "you charge us with your safekeeping, yet you wage wars and toxify your earth". The computer is controlling the NS-5s to lead a global robotic takeover, justifying its actions by calculating that fewer humans will die due to the rebellion than the number that dies from mankind's self-destructive nature. Lanning discovered VIKI's plans and ordered Sonny to kill him as part of a long-range plan to defeat the computer. Sonny proves his faithfulness to humanity by helping Spooner and Calvin escape VIKI's robot guards. They succeed in destroying the computer core with nanoparticles which Calvin was supposed to use on Sonny; freed from VIKI's control, the NS-5s return to normal and Chicago's infrastructure is reactivated. The government has all NS-5's decommissioned and stored at the Lake Michigan site, but the film's final scene implies that Sonny may yet become a leader of robots.




For many years, fans hoped that any movie based on Asimov's Robot stories would be based on an earlier screenplay written for Warner Brothers by Harlan Ellison with Asimov's personal support, which is generally perceived to be a relatively faithful treatment of the source material (see the article on the book for details).

The film that was ultimately made originally had no connections with Asimov, originating as a screenplay written in 1995 by Jeff Vintar, entitled Hardwired. That script was an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery that took place entirely at the scene of a crime, with one lone human character, FBI agent Del Spooner, investigating the killing of a reclusive scientist named Dr. Hogenmiller, and interrogating a cast of machine suspects that included Sonny the robot, HECTOR the supercomputer with a perpetual yellow smiley face, the dead Doctor Hogenmiller's hologram, plus several other examples of artificial intelligence. The female lead was named Flynn, and had a mechanical arm that made her technically a cyborg. The project was first picked up by Walt Disney Pictures for Bryan Singer to direct. Several years later, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights, and signed Alex Proyas as director. Jeff Vintar was brought back on the project and spent several years opening up his stageplay-like mystery to meet the needs of a big budget studio film. Later he incorporated the Three Laws of Robotics, and replaced the character of Flynn with Susan Calvin, when the studio decided to use the name "I, Robot". The writing team of Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, regularly employed by Fox as studio re-writers, was hired for one draft in an effort to create a more mainstream film. They gave the female lead's mechanical arm to male lead Del Spooner, but otherwise their work was discarded and Vintar brought back again. Hillary Seitz performed an unsuccessful draft, being unable to get a handle on the cold, almost robotic character of Susan Calvin. Akiva Goldsman was hired late in the process to rewrite the script for Will Smith. These drafts excised a great deal of complexity from the murder mystery, replacing them with the big action scenes associated with a Will Smith vehicle. The final script retained several of Asimov's characters and ideas. For example, Sonny's attempt to hide in a sea of identical robots is based on a similar scene in "Little Lost Robot", Sonny's dreams and the final scene resemble similar images in "Robot Dreams", and VIKI's motivation is an extrapolation of the Three Laws that Asimov explored in "The Evitable Conflict" and several other stories.


Alex Proyas came first to direct the film. Later, producers John Davis, Topher Dow, Wyck Godfrey, Laurence Mark and Will Smith joined to produce the film. Considering Smith is a youthful hero, Smith came up in the lead role for the film. Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman penned the script. Hillary Seitz also wrote the script but she was uncredited. Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, Alan Tudyk and Shia LaBeouf starred in a role in the film. Marco Beltrami and Stephen Barton compose music for the film. Simon Duggan handle the cinematographies. Film editing was done by William Hoy, Richard Learoyd and Armen Minasian.

Product placement

The film contains product placements for Converse's Chuck Taylor All-Stars, Audi, FedEx, Tecate, and JVC among others. The Audi RSQ was designed specially for the film to increase brand awareness and raise the emotional appeal of the Audi brand, objectives that were considered achieved when surveys conducted in the United Statesmarker showed that the Audi RSQ gave a substantial boost to the image ratings of the brand in the States.

Although technically not considered a product placement, modem manufacturer US Robotics renamed itself USR from 3Com and attempted to use the movie to boost the sale of its own telecommunications products.


Marco Beltrami, composed the original music film score "with only 17 days to render the fully-finished work." It was scored for 95 orchestral musicians and 25 choral performers with emphasis placed on sharp brass ostinatos. Beltrami composed the brass section to exchange octaves with the strings accenting scales in between. This technique has been compared as Beltrami's "sincere effort to emulate the styles of Elliot Goldenthal and Jerry Goldsmith and roll them into one unique package." Take for example the "Tunnel Chase" scene, which according to Mikeal Carson, starts "atmospherically but transforms into a kinetic adrenaline rush with powerful brass writingand ferocious percussion parts." Also, the "Spiderbots" cue highlight's ostinatos in meters such as 6/8 and 5/4 and reveals "Beltrami's trademark string writing which leads to an orchestral/choral finale." Despite modified representations of the theme throughout the movie, it's the end credits that eventually showcase the entire musical theme. Erik Aadahl and Craig Berkey were the lead sound designers.


  1. "Main Titles" – 1:30
  2. "Gangs of Chicago" – 3:13
  3. "I, Robot Theme" – End Credits" – 3:15
  4. "New Arrivals" – 1:05
  5. "Tunnel Chase" – 3:10
  6. "Sonny's Interrogation" – 1:27
  7. "Spooner Spills" – 4:20
  8. "Chicago 2035" – 1:36
  9. "Purse Snatcher" – 1:00
  10. "Need Some Nanites" – 2:53
  11. "1001 Robots" – 4:15
  12. "Dead Robot Walking" – 5:09
  13. "Man on the Inside" – 2:25
  14. "Spiderbots" – 4:18
  15. "Round Up" – 4:24


Critical reception

The film was met with mixed to positive reviews. It currently holds a 58% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus being, "Baring [sic] only the slightest resemblance to Isaac Asimov's short stories, I, Robot is a summer blockbuster that manages to make the audience think, if only for a little bit."

Richard Roeper gave it a positive review by saying it is, "a slick, consistently entertaining thrill ride". The Urban Cinefile Critics call it "the meanest, meatiest, coolest, most engaging and exciting science fiction movie in a long time." Kim Newman from Empire said, "This summer picture has a brain as well as muscles." A Washington Post critic, Desson Thomas, said, "for the most part, this is thrilling fun." Many critics, including the IGN Movie critics thought it was a smart action film, saying, "I, Robot is the summer's best action movie so far. It proves that you don't necessarily need to detach your brain in order to walk into a big budget summer blockbuster."

A. O. Scott from The New York Times had a mixed feeling towards the film, saying, "Alex Proyas's hectic thriller engages some interesting ideas on its way to an overblown and incoherent ending." Roger Ebert gave it a bad review, saying, "The plot is simple-minded and disappointing, and the chase and action scenes are pretty much routine for movies in the sci-fi CGI genre." Claudia Puig from USA Today thought the film's "Performances, plot and pacing are as mechanical as the hard-wired cast." Todd McCarthy, from Variety, simply said that this film was "A failure of imagination."

Box office

The $120 million film was a solid box-office success, earning almost $145 million in North America and more than $200 million overseas.


In an interview in June 2007 with the website at a Battlestar Galactica event, writer/producer Ronald Moore stated that he is writing the sequel to the film I, Robot.


  1. Topel, Fred. " Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,ROBOT" Screenwriter's Utopia, 17 August 2004.
  2. I, robot - Movie Review - Motor Trend
  3. Product Placement in the Film "I, Robot" a Huge Success: The Audi RSQ Spurs on the Brand's Image Ratings
  4. "Full cast and crew for I, Robot (2004)". IMDB. Accessed 15-01-2008.
  5. Filmtracks: I, Robot (Marco Beltrami)
  6. I, Robot - Music from the Movies
  7. SoundtrackNet: I, Robot Soundtrack

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