I, Robot (2004) - All-Access Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Action / Science Fiction / Thriller
Fox || PG13 - 114 minutes - $26.98 || May 24, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-06-27


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Alex Proyas
Writer(s): Jeff Vintar (story), Jeff Vintar (screenplay) and Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)
Cast: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk (voice), James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood


Theatrical Release Date: April 23, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • Director & Screenwriter Commentary
  • Production Designer, Editor and Visual Effects Commentary
  • Composer Commentary
  • Making of I, Robot Featurette
  • X2 Trailer


  • Disc 2:
  • Day out of Days: Production Diaries
  • CGI Design
  • Sentient Machines: Robotic Behavior
  • Three Laws Safe: Conversations About Science Fiction and Robots
  • The Filmmakers' Toolbox: VHX How-To Clips
  • Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

I, Robot was a film I had little desire to see in theaters, but upon viewing it on DVD, I was pleasantly surprised that this science fiction action-adventure was actually entertaining (in a summer blockbuster kind of way). If you delve into the script, there is the usual futuristic warning about the advancements of technology and how it can go wrong. So, for those looking for a plot, there you go. Everyone else, you can grab a hold of the loud action scenes (especially on in a tunnel)...

Once again, actor Will Smith proves that no matter the genre or plot, he can make nearly any role work. For me, I, Robot is a good piece of entertainment that (having seen twice now) can be viewed multiple times and still feel new.

In the end, it is indeed a worthwhile film to watch, if not a bit over-the-top.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

I will say up front: This is a double-dip scheme from 20th Century Fox (which also released The Day After Tomorrow and I, Robot) so I SHOULD give a low rating because the one disc DVD was released in March of this year and THIS one in May (three month buffer). Why not at the same time? If this one wasn't ready, why not delay the one-discer? I can understand older films (or even the WB one's) being rereleased but this is rediculous. In any case, I have to say this two-disc version is only good, but not special like the Collector's Edition of Man on Fire. If you already own the other one, is it worth it? If you just like the movie and could care less about features, probably not.

The first disc has the same commentary track with director Proyas and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. But, since I didn't listen to that one the first go around, I decided to take a gander. For the most part, the track has the standard information tid-bits but isn't nearly as fun as the production diary docu-featurette (more later). I was expecting some relaxing conversations, but instead Proyas and Goldsman stay on topic.

The next track is commentary from the production designer, editor and the visual effects team. Given that these are techincal people, I knew that this one would be to the point and simple. Since there were several people talking at different points, it was nice to have someone announce who was whom each time the voice changed. Boring at times, but still a good technical commentary track.

The final commentary by composer Marco Beltrami, like a majority of composer commentaries, is only for those vastly interest in the profession or just has a fascination with music scores in general. It is also is the isolated score where Beltrami interjects comments about the score and what the process he uses to compose it in conjunction with the director.

Also on this disc is The Making of I, Robot featurette (which is for all you Cliff's Notes fans out there), a stills gallery and, for some reason, an X2 trailer.

On the second disc, you get several featurettes broken down into subheadings:

Days Out of Days is a production diary shot on a camcorder, taking the viewer behind the scenes and showing some of the camera work (to go along with short sound bites from the director and others). This too is split up covering several areas of the production. For instance, "Will Smith's Night of Thunder" talks about the amazingly loud gun fire on the streets of Vancouver, BC in the wee hours of the morning, where upon people living in the area were not too happy (this part was not shown, unfortunately). In total, this documentary runs at a swift 96 minutes, has 9 chapters, and is well worth watching as it avoids the pitfalls of 'making-of' featurettes with interviews and the such. Here, we get to see cast and crew members like director Alex Proyas and star Will Smith having a good time. Runtime - Approx. 96:12

CGI and Design covers both the pre-production plus the work that goes into how they make those action sequences work. Along with the storyboards and footage of the miniatures at work, you also get to see the extras learning how to walk like a robot... In addition, you get to see the process of how they designed the movie's robotic star, Sonny. Although it is important for the film, it was pretty odd and funny to watch. Runtime - Approx. 34:32

Sentient Machines: Robotic Behavior is a true documentary that probably is better for the Discovery Science Channel than for someone like myself. This features interviews with experts in the field of robotics including men and women from iRobot Corp, a futurist, the designer of C3PO and R2D2 as well as MIT smarties. For me, although the subject matter of the history of robots and their purpose is fascinating, it made me feel like I was back in science class being forced to watch a video. This was pretty good on the surface, but a bit too boring for me. Runtime - Approx. 35:05

Three Laws Safe: Conversations About Science Fiction & Robots is a 4-part featurette with interviews with I, Robot screenwriters Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman as well as Robin Asimov and Jennifer Brahl. The four chapters go into good detail about the history behind robot stories (including Isaac Asimov's "Robbie"); the three laws safe theory; Goldsman talks about the I, Robot script and changes and finally Robin Asimov (Isaac's daughter) and Jennifer Brehl (editor) talk about Isaac Asmimov himself and how he came to write the things he did. A good entry to give the viewer an idea of where the material came from for the movie and how much there is out there that we don't know about. Runtime - Approx. 30:33

The Filmmakers' Toolbox includes two deleted scenes and two alternate endings, one which is only a pre-vis and never finished. What's there is ok, but nothing anyone would miss from the film. The most notable scene was merely one that came before the kid tosses Will Smith a basketball, where a robot helps this kid win a game of b-ball. The "completed" alternate ending is a little different where

*SPOILER*
Smith and Bridget Moynanhan (basically) adopt Sonny...
*END SPOILER*

The final special feature are 3 visual effects 'How Tos' where we get to see the process of a special effects shot, piece by piece. Even though this is interesting, I think that an optional commentary track with a visual effects guru would've made this better. But, still very nice. Runtime - Approx. 16:27



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Once again, Fox has provided an excellent DTS sound mix which gives off the nice vocals as well as the normal science fiction noises and explosions. The Dolby 5.1 mix is fine as well and is certainly more than satisfactory if you don't have the DTS decoder. The picture looks great, but I would expect nothing less for a recent release...



.::OVERALL::.

At first, I didn't think this was as good as the collector's edition of Man on Fire, but upon viewing the production diaries, this is truly an excellent and one of the better double dips to come out. Is this release for the person who already owns the one-disc version and is satisfied? Not really, you can save that twenty bucks.

However, if you don't own the other version, grab this one, it's not too expensive and worth the extras that are included.