OK, I went to see I, Robot. OK, I liked the film. OK, it far surpassed my abysmal preconceptions.
But, I mean, really! Is this I Robot?
I Robot is a loosely connect series of stories, some with completely different sets of characters, that explores the meaning of ethics, right, and wrong in the context of the three laws of robotics that Isaac Asimov developed:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
The book is populated mainly by Susan Calvin, an OLD and sexless ‘robopsychologist,’ a variety of corporate execs who manage the firm that builds the machines, and Gregory Powell and Michael Donovan, field personnel who debug or otherwise fix recalcitrant robots. A good overview can be found here. Notice you will not find a detective with a bionic arm among the list of characters.
There is almost NO action in the book, similar to most of Asimov’s other novels. The tension is driven by plot and by psychological and cerebral challenges.
The movie, on the other hand, is a big-budget shoot-em-up action thriller … none of which, of course, are complete without the obligatory ‘car’ chase scene. Again, great movie, nice to enjoy, even did make you think a little bit.
But how on earth is this I, Robot? It’s not. It’s a detective story set in the world of Asimov’s book.
Giving the movie this name only makes sense from a marketing angle. And that’s the worst part of the film.
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