Went to the cinema last night to see I, Robot - Will Smith's latest movie. I have to say I went in not expecting too much and was pleasantly surprised. It was a pretty slick movie with a straightforward plot without any ludicrous twists or turns. Of course, as the name suggests and as written in the credits: "From an idea suggested by Isaac Asimov", it does raise the issue of how we would cope with robots in our society - could we integrate them, treat them normally and so on, and at what point does AI become a person?
However, it's a Hollywood movie that has to keep the pace up and so it never really dwells on these issues. It does at least raise them and if you want to you can try and take something out of this film intelleectually.
In your face
Now Durham cinema isn't exactly big - all of 8 rows of about 16 seats and by the time we got there onlythe front two were left, so we were close to the screen. This I found incredibly disconcerting as since your vision is 100% dominated by the screen, all the effects you see, you feel. At several points I felt dizzy as the camera whirled around or as it panned to look the edge of a massive drop. I can't work out if it made the movie more, or less, enjoyable.
There was one thing that really got my goat, as they say. The product placement was criminal in the movie! So obvious and so infuriating! They used the usual techniques of lingering close-ups on the stereo, or the car he was driving having the Audi symbols everywhere. But they also a few direct references: WS buys himself a pair of Converse All-Star boots... model 2004... and refers to them as "A thing of beauty". These shoes are then referred to twice by other characters, and later in the film WS gets really pissed cos he gets oil on them. Luckily, they seemed to confine these things to the early part of the film, so I wasn't constantly annoyed.
If you're going to do product placement, do it right...
... Like in Blue Velvet where Jeffrey always drinks Heineken:
MAITRE D' : May I get you something to drink?
JEFFREY : I'd like an ice-cold Heineken.
SANDY : That sounds good.
JEFFREY : Two.
MAITRE D' : Two Heinekens, thank you.
JEFFREY : I'll have an ice-cold Heineken.
MAITRE D' : One Heineken, certainly, sir.
Pretty obvious stuff eh, but wait...
SANDY : We've got some Heinekens.
DETECTIVE WILLIAMS: Yeah. I like Bud myself.
Hmmm.... not all is it what it seems, and then the piece de la resistance..
FRANK (to Jeffrey): What kinda beer do you like?
JEFFREY (just says it): Heineken.
FRANK: FUCK THAT SHIT. PABST BLUE RIBBON!!!