Law I — A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Law II — A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
Law III — A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.
It is the year 2035, and humans have come to rely on their service robots in every aspect of their daily lives. United States Robotics (USR) is gearing up for the massive launch of their latest robot model, the Nestor class NS-5 service robot. This robot is their most advanced and human-like model yet, and will automatically uplink to the central computer to get updates. If all goes as planned, this launch will result in a ration of one robot to every five humans.
Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) seems to be the only person in Chicago who’s not completely enamored with the robots. He doesn’t trust them, and is always waiting for the moment when humanity’s reliance on these robots will go bad. Spooner is content with his old school technology—wearing his vintage 2004 Converse All-Stars, and manually driving his gas-guzzling motorcycle.
When the co-founder and creator of USR, Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), is found dead of an apparent suicide, Spooner is called in to investigate. The head of USR, Lawrence Robertson (Bruce Greenwood), assigns Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan) to accompany Spooner on his tour of the facility. During the investigation, they come across one robot named Sonny (Alan Tudyk) who seems to have a mind of his own. Despite the fundamental three laws programmed into all of his robots, Spooner believes that Sonny may have murdered Lanning.
The deeper he investigates, Spooner seems to encounter more and more “malfunctioning” USR technology that make attempts on his life. So it becomes a race to see if he can he stay alive long enough to uncover the truth about Dr. Lanning’s death and unlock the conspiracy that’s going on at USR.
I, Robot is based on a collection of nine short stories written in 1950 by science fiction master Isaac Asimov. Both the subject matter and the film itself (originally produced in 2004) really hold up today. For this special 3D edition, the film has been painstakingly post-converted into 3D and the results are quite amazing. The picture is crisp and rivals that of any movie made today.
There aren’t really any pop out of the screen 3D moments in this film. Instead, the 3D is primarily used to add depth to the picture. This depth is noticeable throughout the film—from Spooner’s apartment, to warehouses filled with thounsands of robots lined up in formation. You feel like you are actually in these spaces and get a sense of how large they are. And in the scenes where characters are looking down from scaffolding or from the top of staircases, you get a real sense of the height.
One thing that tends to plague poorly post-converted 3D films is that characters tend to look like cardboard cutouts, and this can really take you out of the moment. I am happy to report that I didn’t see any of that here. Well, unless the charcaters are supposed to look that way—like in the scenes with the holographic Dr. Lanning.
I found the 3D to be especially nice in the scene where Det. Spooner is running through a building as it is being demolished. Instead of just looking like Spooner running in front of a backdrop, the 3D makes it appear as though he is actually there, with debris flying all around him. I also found that the use of the 3D enhanced the scenes where cars are spinning in circles and characters are rotating around the scaffolding. The 3D puts you right into the action, and you feel that same disorientation as the characters.
I, Robot was originally released in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio (and this is how it appears on the DVD included in the set). However, for the 3D + 2D Blu-ray disc, they have opened up the aspect ratio to 1.78:1. Some may complain that the film is no longer in its OAR, but I found this new ratio perfect for watching the film in 3D since it fills your screen and allows you to get immersed in the action. For most scenes, the new aspect ratio means we see a bit more of what the camera captured on the top and bottom of the screen, and a bit less of what was on the sides in the original cut.
Here is one example of how the two aspect ratios are slightly different. (Note: these screenshots were taken with an iPhone facing the TV and should only be used for comparing aspect ratios. They should not be considered as indicative of the picture quality.)
I also noticed some other minor tweaks to the original film. For example, in the opening reveal of Chicago, they touched things up a bit to make the skyline look a bit more futuristic.
Overall, I found I, Robot to be a thoroughly entertaining and suspensful action film that really holds up after 8 years. The 3D enhances the film, adding depth and helps bring the viewer into the action. I highly recommend checking this out.
- 1080p / Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS
- English SDH, Spanish, French subtitles
- 480p / Widescreen 2.35:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS, English 5.1 DD, Spanish DD Surround, French DD Surround
- English, Spanish subtitles
Like last week’s Avatar 3D Blu-ray release, this set is also bare-bones—I hope this does not become a trend with these FOX 3D BD releases!
The previous I, Robot Blu-ray release was loaded with bonus features, including Days Out of Days Production Diaries, CGI and Design Featurettes, Sentient Machines – Robotic Behavior, The Filmmaker’s Toolbox – VFX How-To Clips, Deleted Scenes, an Alternate Ending, 3 Full Length Commentaries and a Trivia Track. For this release only a tiny fraction of those are included—and only on the DVD.
- Full Length Audio Commentary
Director Alex Proyas and Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman provide a commentary throughout the film which was recorded six weeks before the film was released in theaters in 2004. While it was still interesting and didn’t feel too dated, it would have been nice to get a commentary pertaining to the 3D conversion.
- The Making Of I, Robot (12:36)
The cast and creators talk about the plot of the film. We also get a look at the construction of the sets, cars, costumes, the special effects and the actual filming of the movie. The featurette also includes an interview with Alan Tudyk and footage of him performing his role of “Sonny”, even though we don’t actually see him on-screen.
- Still Gallery
Use the remote to step through 30 concept design and production photos.
- Trailer: Arrested Development (:32)
Dated ad for Arrested Development airing Sundays on FOX, obviously left over from the original DVD release of I, Robot.
- Inside Look (1:48, 5:52)
Dated “coming soon” trailer for Mr. and Mrs. Smith and making-of featurettes for Robots and Elektra.
I, Robot is an action-packed thrill ride that really holds up today. The 3D adds to the enjoyment by adding depth to the film, and looked more like a native 3D film than one that was post-converted.
The audio and picture are great on this 3D BD release. While the film is not in its original aspect ratio, I think the 3D presentation is better for it as the opened up picture really allows the viewer to get more immersed in the film.
I found the extras to be really disappointing as the original Blu-ray release contained way more special features. I would have preferred that they include that disc instead of the DVD. Especially since I’m not sure why anyone who purchases this 3D BD would ever want to watch a SD copy of the film.
A lot of effort was was put into converting this film into 3D, so it would have been nice to get a making of featurette showing the process that was used, or an updated audio commentary discussing the process.
All told, I would recommend this for folks looking for another 3D action film to add to their collection. It would have easily been a “highly recommended” if not for the stripped down bonus features of the original 2D release. Those without the ability to watch 3D should just stick with the previous bonus-filled 2D Blu-ray release.