** spoiler alert **
The PlotThe year is 2035 and anthropomorphic robots are everywhere. They do all the dangerous and dirty jobs humanity won’t. Everyone except the really poor have robot servants. But robots are faster, stronger and smarter than humans, and if they were so inclined, they could take over in a heartbeat. Fortunately, robots can’t do that because they’re programmed with three laws which require them to protect human beings and to follow the orders of human beings, except when those orders would involve hurting another person. So everything is fine.
The Good And The BadWhen I first saw this film, I was disappointed. By and large, it’s nothing more than a generic action film using robots instead of aliens or hired thugs. The thing is awash in product placements too. Moreover, for a science fiction film, the plot lacks depth.
That actually opens the door to several ideas. For example, you could use the robots as an metaphor for liberals and point out that saving us from ourselves is a bad thing. . . “Welcome to Obama-Clinton 2035!” But the film never really shows why people would be unhappy or why the human spirit would die in such conditions. Alternatively, you could point out how we are already dependent on machines, and how that’s getting worse, and you could ask what would happen if we suddenly found ourselves without our machines. But the film doesn’t do that either. To the contrary, it makes no real references to the present. Instead, the film just sticks with the top line idea of “what if we had robots everywhere and they took over!” That’s not particularly satisfying.
And once again, it is the flaw of the shortcut that exposes the problem with the rest of the movie. If the writers have not used this bit of fakery as a shortcut to explaining why people would be surprised by robots, they might have had to deal with the question of the missing point to the film. In other words, if they hadn’t use this crutch about making everyone hopelessly naive, then they would have needed to explain why people would willing allow their potential murders into their lives. That would have raised all the issues that get ignored in this film about human laziness and dependence.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this and I think it’s starting to highlight a very valid point – when you gloss over something in writing your story, you often end up cutting out the need to discuss the things that make the movie interesting. Short cuts make for uninteresting stories.
Ultimately, this film is fun and I like it, I’m just disappointed that the film wasn’t any more than it was.