A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that though most of the violent attacks are directed at robots, the creatures (some with distinct personalities and human voices) are crushed, dismembered, exploded, shot at, and destroyed. The results of one car crash are particularly intense. Humans are also in danger: a scientist is dead and bloody on the ground having fallen from a great height; repeated flashbacks show a young girl trapped and drowning in a car; a great, military-like force of robots chase and try to kill humans. Swearing is relatively mild, but there are many instances of "ass," "s--t," "goddamn," "hell," "piss," etc. In one early scene, Will Smith is seen in the shower, naked from the back, perhaps to compare the human physical ideal with the robotic form, otherwise it seems gratuitous. Product placement is obvious and frequent.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Chicago, 2035. Robots are an integral part of society's daily life. On the eve of the launch of a new, advanced order of robot technology, the scientist responsible for its development (James Cromwell) is found dead, presumably a suicide. Police Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) is called in to investigate. Spooner, who admits to an ongoing prejudice against robots, believes the scientist was murdered. His suspicions are bolstered when he confronts a renegade robot, "Sunny," who appears to have broken the accepted robot code. Spooner becomes a target himself as he pursues his theory against the wishes of the police establishment and in defiance of U.S. Robotics, a corporate giant. As Spooner gets closer to the truth, war between Man and The Machine becomes inevitable.
Is it any good?
On some levels, the movie works: There are lots of good special effects, imaginative settings, the requisite mayhem, destruction, and suspense. I, ROBOT is inspired by a collection of Isaac Asimov stories; in those stories, basic laws for robot behavior are set down: 1) a robot cannot harm a human or allow one to be harmed; 2) a robot must obey human instructions less those instructions conflict with Law #1; and 3) a robot must protect himself unless doing so conflicts with Laws #1 and #2. Using those basic rules, director Alex Proyas and his team set out to make an entertaining "good versus evil" action movie with hero Will Smith reliable in his likable "everyman" role. Unfortunately, very little attention has been paid to wit or originality. Even less attention has been paid to the quality of some key performances: a few characters are one-note wonders and others seem even more robotic than the automated fellows with whom they interact. Entertaining, yes; memorable, no.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about technology. What do you think the filmmakers are trying to say about the fast pace of developing technology? What are the positive effects of the changes? What are the dangers?
Do you think that movie violence is easier to watch when the object of destruction is not human? How does that compare to "cartoon" violence?
Was the movie successful at creating the year 2035? How did the sets, visual effects, music, and costumes contribute to your experience?
Del Spooner seems to be the only person suspicious of the robot culture. What kinds of pressure does he have to face because of his beliefs? How does he change over the course of the story? How does he change others?
- In theaters: July 16, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: December 14, 2004
- Cast: Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell, Will Smith
- Director: Alex Proyas
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense stylized action and some brief partial nudity
For kids who love sci-fi and fantasy
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.