Sunday, May 08, 2005

Hey, you! Robot!

Karen and I watched I, Robot on DVD today. We hadn't seen it in the movies; frankly, the trailer turned me off. It was one of those tell-all trailers that left me with the sense that I had (A) seen the movie, and (B) hadn't liked it. Technophobic blather, I thought. Well, I was only partly right. I don't think I'm being too much of a spoiler* to say that there are some baaaad robots in this film. But to dismiss I, Robot as neo-Luddite claptrap would be an oversimplification. Sure, the bots are bad and the AI is evil, but it's the nature of that evil that is interesting. Yes, yes, there's the usual SF trope that humans, with all their foibles, have 'heart', and that is what makes us superior to machine logic. That's the overt message, and it's trite as hell. But there's another message, too -- a philosophy the movie condemns: in order to protect us, we must be deprived of our freedoms. If a few people are harmed along the way, well, tough noogies. Commentary on contemporary US politics in I, Robot: am I reading too deep? It is better to live with the risk of violence than be deprived of our personal liberties. Is that sentiment so controversial we have to bury it in a Will Smith flick? Aside from the fact I, Robot and I have the same politics, here's what's really cool about the movie: it has the same take on entertainment as I do. I can't think of another film that has I, Robot's balance of humor, poignancy, action, and creepiness. That's what I strive for in my writing, and that's what I, Robot delivers. Here's who we have to thank: Will Smith, who makes the most of a superb script. ("You are the dumbest smart person I have ever met." It's a cute line, but in Smith's hands, it's a corker.) Aside from starring, he also gets an exec prod credit for the film. Director Alex Proyas, who milks Smith for all he's worth and who makes the sentient robot, Sonny, touching without being maudlin (you listening, Spielberg? Naw. Didn't think so). Screenwriters Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman. Vintar, who also wrote the screen story, is perhaps best known for Final Fantasy. Goldsman has lots of fine credits but deserves a great big HUH? for Lost in Space. Well, Karen wants to look at kitchen cabinets at the hardware store. Gotta run. D. *One nice thing about reviewing a year-old film: I'll bet those of you who would watch a movie like I, Robot have already seen it.


Blogger mm said...

Hey Doug

Good to hear Jacob will be okay. Sorry it has to take so long. I get whopper headaches that last for a couple hours to a couple days – couldn’t imagine what your little guy has gone through.

I don’t think I’ve even heard of this movie (yes – I’m that out of the loop when it comes to movies), but as a fellow Alan Rickman fan, I wondered if you’ve ever seen Galaxy Quest. Probably, but if not, you must rent it. It’s one of those brilliantly, stupidly funny flicks.

Another one you must see is Strange Brew (mid 80’s). I’m sure you’d appreciate the hi-tech scifi scene at the beginning (filmed on the rocky shores of Lake Ontario at Toronto).

And finally, I left a message for you at my blog, then realized there is always a possibility you might not read through all the little messages, looking for one to you. It was just a book recommendation. The hypochondriac’s Guide to Life. And Death. Look it up on amazon sometime. I think you could leave it laying about your office and have some fun screwing with your patients.

5/09/2005 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi Mo,

I've seen Galaxy Quest many times. It has the distinction of being scarily close to my NiP in some respects (you'll see . . . have you begun reading, yet?)

You'll probably see by today's post that Jake isn't out of the woods yet. Although I suppose a three day hiatus is a good sign.

Haven't seen Strange Brew. Isn't that, like Canadian, eh?

5/10/2005 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

Haven't seen Strange Brew. Isn't that, like Canadian, eh?

And what's wrong with Canadian film, eh?

5/11/2005 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger mm said...

Yes, you Hoser, it's a Canadian movie. And yes - I'm reading your novel. You have my undivided attention between 6 and 6:30 a.m. on weekdays (more on weekends). I'm going to have a hard time commenting - your writing is so tight.

5/11/2005 06:21:00 PM  
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