Is it really already seven years since this film was released? Wow, time flies … Although it’s been on television a few times since then, I haven’t seen it since its original theatrical run and I don’t remember being wildly impressed by it. It was fine – popcorn fodder – but nothing more. Perhaps it was the aggressive product placement in the film (Converse and Audi in particular) or perhaps the divergence from the Isaac Asimov original short stories, or the way it descends into typical CGI blockbuster action sequences, but it never had me thinking “I must watch that again real soon.”
Well, I finally got around to it – and time has been kind to it. It’s a better, more intelligent and better played film than I remembered, with one of Will Smiths best and more layered performances in a blockbuster and clearly a bridge to his later serious work; and the concepts are intelligently developed and explored, with more thought-provoking stuff than I gave it credit for at the time. All in all, it turns out that it does do pretty good justice to Asimov.
The final section of the film does go the rather obvious action flick route with some Matrix-influenced daftness, and the CGI – while impressive and state of the art at the time – has not held up completely. But notably the central creation of Sonny (“played” by Firefly‘s Alan Tudyk in a Gollem-esque CGI fashion) is actually extremely well done and believable, and a genuinely interesting and rounded character.
It’s a film that looks especially good on Blu-ray with lots of detail and very few duff moments indeed – the only problem is that hi-def is really not kind to front- and back-projection scenes that stick out like a sore thumb every time. The film is helped by its futuristic city and robot subject matter that looks great in HD, but it’s people’s faces that really wow you more than anything. The sound is also very good and enveloping – the fact it made me look away and/or wonder if that was a sound from the film or in the room is always a good indication of a top-notch sound mix.
Definitely a better film than I remembered, graced with an excellent Blu-ray transfer.
**** out of five stars.