Communion Of Dreams


Eye, Robot.

I like bad science fiction movies. Cheesy special effects, bad dialog and worse acting, it doesn’t matter. Just so long as there is a nub of a decent idea in there somewhere, trying to get out.

And in that spirit, I added I, Robot to my NetFlix queue some time back, knowing full well that it had almost nothing to do with Isaac Asimov’s brilliant stories. I knew it was set in the near term future, and that it had been a success at the box office, but that was about it. This past weekend, it arrived. I watched it last night.

I think Asimov himself predicted just what would be wrong with this movie:

In the essay “The Boom in Science Fiction” (Isaac Asimov on Science Fiction, pp. 125–128), Asimov himself explained the reason for Hollywood’s overriding need for violence:

[…] Eye-sci-fi has an audience that is fundamentally different from that of science fiction. In order for eye-sci-fi to be profitable it must be seen by tens of millions of people; in order for science fiction to be profitable it need be read by only tens of thousands of people. This means that some ninety percent (perhaps as much as ninety-nine percent) of the people who go to see eye-sci-fi are likely never to have read science fiction.The purveyors of eye-sci-fi cannot assume that their audience knows anything about science, has any experience with the scientific imagination, or even has any interest in science fiction.

But, in that case, why should the purveyors of eye-sci-fi expect anyone to see the pictures? Because they intend to supply something that has no essential connection with science fiction, but that tens of millions of people are willing to pay money to see. What is that? Why, scenes of destruction.

Yup. And that is just about all that the movie I, Robot is – destruction and special effects. Shame, really, since I have enjoyed Will Smith in other bad SF (Independence Day, anyone?), and just love Alan Tudyk from Firefly/Serenity. Even what had to be intentional references to such excellent movies as Blade Runner or The Matrix fell completely flat. It was, in a word, dreadful.

Ah, well. Via MeFi, here’s a little gem to wash the bad taste out of your mouth:

Gene Roddenberry would be proud.

Jim Downey


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