Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
|Featuring:|| Will Smith … Del Spooner
Bridget Moynahan … Susan Calvin
Alan Tudyk … Sonny
James Cromwell … Dr. Alfred Lanning
Bruce Greenwood … Lawrence Robertson
Adrian Ricard (Adrian L. Ricard) … Granny
Chi McBride … Lt. John Bergin
Jerry Wasserman … Baldez
Fiona Hogan … V.I.K.I.
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|Director:||Alex Proyas—“Knowing” (2009)|
|Distributor:||20th Century Fox|
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “In the year 2035, robots are an everyday household item, and everyone trusts them, except one, slightly paranoid detective (Will Smith) investigating what he alone believes is a crime perpetrated by a robot. The case leads him to discover a far more frightening threat to the human race.
Inspired by the classic short story collection by Isaac Asimov.”
How far can mankind come technologically in a 30 year period in history? Are we really capable of some or even all of the technology depicted in this current summer addition to the blockbuster arena? The ultimate question for Christians is: “would our God allow mankind to go this far in 30 years or at any time in the not so distant future?” A closer study through Revelation and Daniel is in order.
In our modern day history, advancements of machine and technology has been going along on a whirlwind course. 30 years ago only the rich could have a home computer. Today there is estimated there are two per home. 20 years ago the Pentium Processors we so rely on, were not even a twinkle in it’s creator’s mind. A mere 10 years ago the vice president of the company my husband worked for was teaching a class on Artificial Intelligence at UC San Diego. To look at it in this way, it is not so fantastic to expect we just may have robots integrated into our society. Mr. Asimov has taken us a step further, to conceive these robots working as separate yet alongside humans as helpers. Then to consider these “life forms” to become self aware.
There are many “human condition” issues that popped into my head as I watched this very entertaining and at some times, disturbing take on Isaac Asimov’s story of the future which he hatched after a conversation with John W. Campbell (editor of Astounding Science Fiction in the 1940s).
We are set up with Asimov’s own words in the beginning credits. These are the basis of the movie’s murder mystery theme and the questions raised every time a robot seemingly went outside of THE THREE LAWS OF ROBOTICS:
In the year 2035, Chicago Det. Del Spooner (Will Smith) is taken into an investigation of the mysterious suicide of top robot scientist Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell). Dr. Lanning, a brilliant and dedicated robotitian, has supposedly jumped from a balcony within the U.S. Robotics building, but Spooner suspects foul play. The story line from here, sounds like the typical renegade cop movie Hollywood loves to dish out. It’s full of powerful futuristic car races all over the city, the Det. shoots off his mouth, is misunderstood by his Captain, gets his badge pulled, but keeps pushing to solve the crime on his own time. Along the way, Spooner survives countless physical adventures and finally solves the mystery of Dr. Lanning’s death, doing this with the help of the strong and lovely Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan).
Although this seems simple minded, and if anyone besides Will Smith were given this part to tackle, we would all be bored stiff, this story has been molded into a well rounded sci-fi mystery thriller. It is obvious director Alex Proyas and special effects supervisor John Nelson were going for some eye popping visuals, but at the same time Proyas has taken the screenplay and given us a fresh look at an old story because of the “human” side of the robots. Sonny (with the voice of Alan Tudyk) was beautifully done and moved easily within the complexity of being self realized. The whole thing worked because the actors and visual effects worked seamlessly together. I enjoyed myself and those around me in the theater did also, considering their laughter, oohs, ahs and rousing go-get-em comments throughout.
What we may overlook while enjoying our popcorn is the underlying human rights (and robotic rights, as it were) issues presented to us to munch on.
We have an emotionally hurting character in Del Spooner. He believes his Dad lost all of his self-sufficiency and human worth when his job was taken away by the onset of technological advancement, which in turn, Spooner has determined caused his Dad’s death. Spooner has also lost his wife to divorce because of his dedication to the police department. These instances in his life has made him a very bitter individual. Another factor woven into this story is a reacquiring dream of a girl trapped in a car after an accident. She is struggling to free herself from the car as it floats to the bottom of a lake. Spooner is unable to save her and blames a robot for her death because the robot “was too logical.” The audience finds out the true reason for his angst over this dream near the end of the movie. I will leave it at that so the plotline isn’t revealed and spoil it for the viewer.
All he has left in the world is his wise and loving Granny G.G. (Emily Tennant). Granny’s character is depicted as a “Christian” woman and is the one thing he hangs onto for emotional support. Granny has obviously taught Spooner something about Jesus, as his character begs to differ with the villain, CEO of U.S. Robotics, Lance Robertson (Bruce Greenwood) when he as pounds that “a robot could no more kill a human—than a human could walk on water.” Spooner explains “…there was a man once who did!” Granny is held hostage by a run-amuck robot in one scene and we see her turning to God for her help and support by praying aloud “…because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”
We are forced to take a look at prejudice because of Spooner’s bigoted contempt for robots. We must consider us as the human race and what is it that putting other gods before God himself can produce. The truth being our trust in our own devices can beget horrific endings. We are also given the chance to consider placing our trust in anything other than God, as the character’s placed their total trust in their man made robots to run and organize their lives which brought on revolution within the robotic realms and almost destroyed the human race because of complacency and arrogance. Ponder the facts of historic record of man’s faith in himself as we remember the fait of the Titanic “the unsinkable” ship, or the missions of our space vessels exploding over Earth. How finite we really are and how infinite God is.
In the end, our hero saves mankind, but along the way he learns to believe in a higher reason for life. Sonny’s ability to defend and remain loyal to Spooner and all humans he encountered spoke of how we all must be responsible for each other, no matter where we hail from. Even though the struggle was between robot and man, it could well be interpreted as our struggle between ourselves. True freedom, as Sonny’s character points out is to find one’s purpose. Of course, true freedom is in God. Some reviewers have already stated the storyline was not adult, complex or worthwhile, but I beg to differ. There are many issues of where man is headed and is this the “true happiness” we should pursue?
There were no sexual scenes, although there were two shower sequences. One in the beginning with a brief torso shot of Will Smith’s character in the nude and later in the film Bridgot Moynahan’s character was seen taking a shower, but the shower door was steamed enough that nothing was visible from her shoulders down. There was, however, a lot of swearing. One kid who was supposed to be Spooner’s friend used lots of “fast” slang and bad language. It went by so fast, it was hard to tell what he was saying. One “GD,” one “sh**,” four “A**,” and one “bull**.” Our Lord’s name was taken in vain once. The PG-13 rating is for intense stylized action, and some brief partial nudity, and that is appropriate.
I recommend we study the words of Joshua and head the words of The Lord “be strong and of good courage.” David, the Psalmist says to follow hard after God and know the benefit of being humble before The Lord. He is the One who makes and creates and all man’s works are as stubble. If we marvel in our own creation, we are but fools sealing our own fate.
The bottom line is that kids will love this movie for it’s action and visual effects. Anyone who has read Isaac Asimov’s work will most likely be upset, as this film does not hold true to the original story.
I enjoyed this film, Will Smith came through and the other actor’s gave life to their parts, but the real star was the visual effects and the stunning way we as the viewers were able to become part of the action and feel for Sonny’s quest to endure.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor