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I, Robot

I, despite my best efforts, am a popcorn movie

I, Robot is a movie that plays at two different speeds. The first segment moves at a more restrained pace than would be expected of a summer blockbuster, and at times approaches thoughtfulness. But as the movie nears the end, it remembers what it was meant to be and shifts gears into light speed for a conclusion so busy with explosions and robotic combat that it forgets to resolve any of the points that were raised earlier in the film.

Will Smith plays a part that should be very familiar to him, as it essentially transports his role from the Bad Boys tandem of films 30-years into the future. In a world that has come to depend on robots, Smith is Detective Del Spooner, the last dissenting voice. From the beginning, there are references to why he so fervently protests the robots' existence, though the explanation once revealed is less than satisfying.

Either way, Spooner has been chosen to investigate the apparent, but mysterious, suicide of robot inventor Dr. Albert Lanning. At first glance, the suicide seems unquestionable, yet a holographic projection left behind by the doctor suggests otherwise. Unfortunately for Spooner, his colleagues are too enthralled by the robots to observe the clues. Eventually, it becomes clear to Spooner that the doctor has left behind a trail of clues for him that lead to the answers surrounding his death.

After watching I, Robot, the first film that came to mind- The Matrix and Blade Runner were thought of beforehand- was David Fincher's The Game. In that film, Fincher creates a puzzle so captivating and involved that he's left no credible manner in which to solve it. Because of this, the film initially leaves a bad aftertaste. However, once one is further removed from the viewing, it's easy to appreciate Fincher's creation. I, Robot's puzzle is neither as complex, nor as interesting, but suffers from the same problem. As the end draws close, the film becomes a frantic scramble to account for each of the clues. In the process, it forgets to answer the most obvious of questions, hoping no one will notice the gaping hole in the story if enough robots inhabit the screen.

What we are left to ponder is whether multiplex-fare should be punished more for being ambitious and only partially succeeding or for settling, but fully achieving, mediocrity. I would lean toward the latter.