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The Duke Offers An Intellectual Assesment Of “I, Robot”

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If The Duke has learned nothing else from years of research in the scientific field of things, he has at least acquired the knowledge that anything not assembled from sticks and saliva is probably going to turn on you at some point and then try and lock you in the house and probably wire up all sorts of seemingly “harmless” appliances for to kill the fuck out of everyone you love.

This theory is, I believe, supported by at least many scientific journals.

It seems Jeff Vintar and Alex Proyas have been to the same seminars as The Duke, since they went ahead and made I Am A Robot, writing and directing, respectively, this tale about The Fresh Prince don’t trust these uppity robotic sons a bitches what are all over the damn place. One of those things is gonna turn on you, is the point to be made, and next thing you know you’ll be too dead to do a damn thing about it.

As I scream in frustration every morning God gives on account of the inability for my video recorder to perform even the least demanding of tasks, I sometimes forget that hidden away amidst all those chips, circuits, technology, is a mass-murderer just biding its time.

First it refuses to play Pink Flamingos, then it stabs me in the guts as I sleep.

Thank God for flicks like I Am A Robot what serve to remind me, and ensure that my life might be spared.

What I Am A Robot concerns itself with, is being set in the future and stuff, and being all hi-tech. We know it’s the future on account of there are robots walking about, and also folks refer to 2004 as being a “vintage” year and kooky futuristic shit like that.

Something happens involving the farmer from Babe, and he commits suicide as a means of killing himself. Will Smith, a loose-cannon cop if ever was one, he don’t accept this nonsense about a suicide, and so blames a robot that’s running about the place.

No one listens to a damn word Will Smith has to say, is the crushing development. It’s like Planet Of The Apes, except it’s robots instead of monkeys, but the whole world is upside down. These people act like Terminator 3 never happened. They just let the robots dilly dally about the place helping with groceries and plumbing and so on, never for a second considering that they might just be waiting for to stage a revolution and set the world alight with robotic fury.

I Am A Robot, Hear Me Roar.

The reason these folks don’t want to heed Detective Will Smith is because of three laws of some kind what have been programmed into these robots so that they don’t do crazy shit like kill the farmer from Babe or do scary eye movements when you’re not looking.

These laws are something along the lines of;

A robot can’t hurt a human, even one what is really really fucking annoying.

Also, a robot can’t self-destruct or no gothic shit like that.

Finally, a robot can’t let a human come to harm, like if they drive a car into a river or something. In that case, a robot would be expected to help the folks out. Unless this conflicts with the first two laws, like if the only way for to get the car out of the water was to blow itself up, since that would not only be an act of self-destruction, but would probably kill the folks anyroad, if they were too close.

That right there is the gist of these law things.

I Am A Robot is supposedly based on the writings of a fella by the name of Issac Asimov, but, in all fairness, they don’t stick very close to the source. It’s like if someone was adapting Misery by Stephen King, but instead of having the hero being a writer, they made him an insurance salesman, and then instead of having him get held hostage by a lunatic, they had him getting his body swapped with a teenage boy, and then wacky shit ensues.

Still, I would go as far as to say that if you only see one Will Smith film this weekend what involves Robots and isn’t set in the Wild West, then I would suggest this one.

Detective Will Smith, as stated above, is something of a renegade. If you were thinking he wasn’t the kinda cop what would say stuff like “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m allergic to bullshit”, or question the authority of his superiors, then you are wrong and probably also a communist.

You might remember in The Lethal Weapon, when Mel Gibson used to get up in the morning and cry and then put a gun in his mouth and then drink a bit of the ale. That is the kind of loose cannon we’re talking. If this cannon were any looser the balls would just roll out of it and probably break your foot, depending on which end you were standing by.

The difference is that Detective Will Smith has a high-tech gun to hold to his head, instead of a crappy old 1988 pistol, since this is the future now. Also, Detective Will Smith has very nice headwear, and not just a shapeless mullet.

I Am A Robot is, it must be said, a very intelligent film. In case you didn’t know, it wants to talk about the discrimination and stuff, but it does it in a manner what seems like they’re talking about robots, when what they’re really talking about is black people / Asian people / white people on low-income / Jews / Catholics and any number of minorities. Like in The X-Men 2, when it looked like it was about mutants were being treated unfairly, but it was really about no, it’s these other, real-life people what are being treated unfairly.

Give peace some chances, is the point to be made. Also, destroy stuff as much as possible.

If the question to be asked were; is I Am A Robot good so far as the “fun” is concerned, then the answer would be yes.

Other questions might be; is it thought-provoking; does it have funny lines; is there a sidekick who conveniently knows nothing about something very important so as it can be explained to us all?

For the answer to these questions The Duke will have to suggest that what you do is see the film, since spoilers are just not something I feel comfortable with divulging, unless it results in many, many people going to my Slab of Web-Net, something unlikely to happen in this case since the film has already been out for at least ages.

Alex Proyas previously directed The Crow and Dark City, and this carries on the theme of being more concerned with the looking good than anything else. There are visual flourishes here what are truly breath-taking, like when robots start climbing up a building, or when a woman is in a shower.

The irony is that it looks very good but doesn’t have much going on underneath. This is ironic on account of it’s about robots what aren’t very pretty but are very very intelligent. That part is the part dealing with irony.

Thanks folks.

The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando.

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About The Duke

  • Duane

    Duke, I see that through your scientific research you have discovered one of the fundamental laws of movie-making, which, to be as concise as possible, reads as follows:

    SCIENCE BAD

    There are many, many examples. Some of these examples you might consider to be good movies.

    The Andromeda Strain
    Jurassic Park
    Deep Blue Sea
    Colossus: The Forbin Project
    Demon Seed
    The Terminal Man
    The Terminator
    The Real Genius with the guy from The Doors
    Fail-Safe
    The Matrix
    Blade Runner
    I am a Robot (I think you mentioned that one)
    The China Syndrome
    The Frankenstein (of course)

    and hordes of others. And these don’t even include the mad scientist movies (except for The Frankenstein) and the nuke-mutated monster movies.

    How do you explain this lopsidedness?

  • JR

    Was Real Genius anti-science?

    It was certainly critical of some applications of science; but overall, I thought it was one of the few movies that accurately portrays science as fun.

    And we would need a list of “pro-science” movies to measure whether there really is a bias against science in Hollywood. (Of course there is, but it wouldn’t be very “scientific” to just select the data that makes your case.) Okay, for starters:

    Contact
    um…Outbreak
    others?

  • Duane

    Real Genius features a member of the faculty at a reasonable facsimile of Cal Tech saying to a student, “We’re smarter — better,” when referring to the boy’s parents and other “normal” people. He’s in bed with The Pentagon, and is made out to be a pompous asshole. Scientists bad. Val Kilmer, the iconoclast, comes along and battles against the science establishment. He is the remarkable one, while we are supposed to believe that the establishment is made up of assholes. Then there’s the guy who at first appears to be living in the closet. Eccentric, out of touch loners compose the second type of scientist depicted in the movie. I understand that it’s all in fun, and if the themes presented in Real Genius were rare, I could take it that way. But it’s all too common to present scientists as ineffectual, sexless, naive, impractical, unkempt, physical weaklings, or as insufferably pompous manipulators — scientists bad means science bad.

  • Duane

    In the movie Contact, even though based on Carl Sagan’s novel, which obviously casts the scientific enterprise in a favorable light, you will recall that the Tom Skerritt character pulls strings behind the scenes to see to it that the Jodie Foster character is marginalized. The religious point of view, as presented by the Matthew McConaughey character against this backdrop of scientific chicanery, comes off sounding eminently reasonable. The popular support for making contact with the aliens is represented by the usual band of credulous kooks.

  • JR

    But it’s all too common to present scientists as ineffectual, sexless, naive, impractical, unkempt, physical weaklings, or as insufferably pompous manipulators — scientists bad means science bad.

    I think we could come up with a pretty long list of portrayals of movie makers (actors, directors, entertainment executives) as complete assholes. That’s not the same as saying movies are bad.

    I think Real Genius did a decent job of portraying science as fun, while still prone to the same personnel issues as any other profession. What you’re describing is more of an anti-establishment message than an anti-science message. In this case the iconoclast, the one who solves the problem created by scientists, is himself a scientist. Contrast that with, say, Frankenstein or Terminator II, where the solution is for the “common people” to kill the scientist and destroy his technology. THAT’s anti-science.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    hi folks, thanks for taking on the old “message” and what-not and granting it legitimacy. some times in the “jokes” and stuff The Duke’s deeply intellectual musings get lost.
    I’ve always believed sci-fi (on film, at least) to be a very reactionairy genre. AI was interesting for a number of reasons (especially the one about how it was very brilliant indeed), but also becuase it played on these fears of technology, and had the “baddies” as the ones who don’t trust science, ie, the parents who end up assuming that the robot is gonna get all homicidal at some point.
    It’s interesting that the flicks with the most vehement opossition to scientif progress (the matrix, for example) are the ones which owe their success most to technological advance. odd.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    also, being something of a fan of the Asian horror, it’s interesting how much these recent flicks borrow from hollywood sci-fi in so far as the perils of technology. In kairo, the internet was something evil that killed folks and led to us becoming atomised nothings. Ring obviously had killer video tapes. Phone had, fittingly enough, killer mobile phones. The Eye had evil eye transplants (although that right theres not a new one, going back so far Hands Of Orlock, and also The Hand, oliver stone’s second film, the one about Michael Caine gets an evil hand).
    I’m still waiting for iPod, about someone dies in the middle of listening to a song and then everytime that song is played on an iPod the listener has seven days to put it on kazaa and get someone else to hear it or something. Patented, by the way, by iPod idea.

  • Duane

    And then there’s The Blog where a young handsome internet savvy stud who lives a bit on the wild side like driving a convertible and stuff finds out that people are being hypnotized by this monster called The Blog which is a high-tech kind of monster but when he tells the local authorities nobody will believe him because he’s the kind of guy to go around making practical jokes just to impress girls but when the local folks find out that The Blog is on the loose they blame those galdurned scientists who always find things they can do but never ask whether they should do those things.

  • Eric Olsen

    Picked almost randomly, this is a sentence to reckon with: “Something happens involving the farmer from Babe, and he commits suicide as a means of killing himself.”

    Rock on, Duker.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    eric, the rocking wont stop for a single second. and thank you, that was one i was kinda proud of, is what, so far as the literary concerns are involved.
    Duane, that idea is something aproaching genius. And also, the hip young teenager whos really 30, he can’t get no political backing for to attack the beast, since it has made friends with folks from all sorts of persuasions. What can he do to end this madness?
    Maybe in the end it gets bought by Time Warner and then loses all credibility.
    Who knows?
    Incidentally, no, the idea is terrible and you should never ever think about it again, especially if it should appear in a film written by The Duke De Mondo, with a story very very similar to the one you obviously stole from me one time.
    ;)