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1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the
First or Second Law.
-- Isaac Asimovís Three Laws of Robotics

I, ROBOT ($30) takes the three laws of robotics created by Isaac Asimov and marries them to a very entertaining popcorn type action/science fiction story. Set in to not too distant future, I, ROBOT tells the story of Del Spooner (Will Smith) a homicide detective, with a decided prejudice against mankindís technological convenience- the robots, that have pretty much taken over all the menial tasks that mankind used to do for themselves. While most people see robots as little more than sophisticated appliances, detective Spooner has a definite mistrust of these creations designed to emulate man, even through Spooner knows that the three laws of robotics, which has been hardwired into all robots, renders them utterly benign.

Of course, it is with a little bit of irony that detective Spooner is assigned to the very first potential homicide investigation involving a robot. Even more ironic, is the fact that the victim is Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), who is not only a personal friend of Spoonerís, but also the scientist who invented modern robotics. Coming on the eve of the largest robot distribution in the history of the world, political strings are being pulled cover up the fact that a robot may be guilty of murder. As you might expect, Spooner wants no part of the politically motivated cover up, and as the detective digs deeper into the case, he finds evidence of a conspiracy even larger than he could have ever imagined. The cast of I, ROBOT also features Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, Bruce Greenwood, Adrian Ricard and Chi McBride.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made I, ROBOT available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a truly excellent looking transfer that delivers a crisp and highly defined image. Colors are vibrant, fully saturated and completely stable, plus flesh tones appear wholly natural. Some sequences have a more subdued color palette, but it all look great. Blacks appear velvety, whites are clean, plus both shadow detail and contrast are both excellent. The film elements used for the transfer are virtually pristine and there is little apparent grain during the presentation. Digital compression artifacts are always very well concealed.

For this release, I, ROBOT comes with 5.1 channel soundtracks in both the Dolby Digital and DTS varieties. Both tracks are terrific and deliver the kind of highly aggressive action movie sound that surround junkies crave. Sound effects are well implemented in the outlying channels and the sound design is very engaging. Fidelity is superb, with the musical component having a lifelike quality and the sound effects coming across in a highly convincing manner. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the filmís dialogue is always completely understandable. The bass channel is deep and powerful, when required, and adds weight to the soundtrack at all other times. As for the differences between Dolby Digital and DTS, well, the latter produces a warmer and richer sonic experience, but the former does not disappoint in any way, shape or form. French and Spanish surround tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Director Alex Proyas and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman are on hand for a fairly detailed audio commentary, which covers most of the bases in terms of the filmís production. Next up is The Making Of I, Robot, which runs twelve minutes and is your typical PR piece, with a brief look behind-the-scenes, some film clips and a smattering of interviews. A still gallery and bonus trailers close out the supplemental content.

Inspired by the works of Isaac Asimov, I, ROBOT is solid, enjoyable popcorn entertainment for those who enjoy a mix of action and science fiction. As for the widescreen DVD, it looks and sounds fantastic, making it another great disc to feed to oneís home theater system.



I, Robot (Widescreen Edition) (2004)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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