I, Robot Boycott

Posted 16 Jul 2004 at 06:09 UTC by steve Share This

By the 1940s Isaac Asimov grew tired of reading endless pulp stories about masses of evil, marauding robots attempting to destroy their creators. His answer was a series of stories in which Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist, solves mysteries caused by conflicts in the Laws of Robotics, a set of ethical rules governing robot behaviour. Asimov's first collection of robot stories was titled I, Robot. Hollywood is trying to pull a fast one by licensing the title of Asimov's book for a completely unrelated movie, originally called Hardwired, about masses of evil, marauding robots attempting to destroy their creators. A hasty rewrite of the script added a few references to the Laws of Robotics and renamed some characters to match Asimov's story. There's a Susan Calvin in the film but she's just along to watch Will Smith shoot things. A petition failed to persuade 20th Century Fox to change the name of the film and now growing numbers of outraged Science Fiction fans request that people boycott the opening week of I, Robot. I plan on joining them, in an effort to put a dent the highly valued opening week revenue. If the marketing tactic makes money this time, Fox will likely use the recently licensed titles to Asimov's Foundation novels to market more unrelated films.

It's actually ok, posted 16 Jul 2004 at 09:58 UTC by heathkit » (Journeyer)

Having just seen the movie, I think it's ok. If you don't mind spoilers, my write-up is here.

Basically, it wasn't a Frankenstein story. Although, it was probably closer to "Caves of Steel", than "I, Robot", it's still a valid Three Laws kind of story.

I plan to watch it, posted 16 Jul 2004 at 15:28 UTC by topazx2 » (Master)

I plan to watch it for alterior motives, two of my robots are in the film. Frankly I think we need to support robotic movies, they are few and far between and it's this kind of thing that keeps robots on the front of peoples minds. I actually hope there will be a sequile (already in the pre-process), because they've asked to use my bots again in that event. I'm not big on robot movies that portray robots in this kind of manor, but then I don't care for Battlebots much either yet they brought hobby robotics back to life in a pretty big way. For the record, I think the iRobot robots look stupid and if I were a character in the movie, I certainly wouldn't buy one. I'd be more likely to take a strole through that robot repair shop and pick out a cute little "antique" like Little Johnny... Ok, so that's my bot, but you get the idea. If you watch the movie, my robots are in the repair shop with the giant robot head. -Dan Gates

Being Okay vs. Being I, Robot, posted 16 Jul 2004 at 16:12 UTC by steve » (Master)

I won't argue that it's a bad movie until I get a chance to see it (I'll let you know in a week). But it's clearly not based on the stories about Susan Calvin collected in Isaac Asimov's book, I, Robot. And it's not true to Asimov's style ("violence is the last resort of the incompetent" comes to mind). That's the problem. If they had left Asimov's name out of it, I don't think anybody would have a problem with yet another Terminator-like movie.

This isn't the first time this has happened. Quite few Robert Heinlein fans went to Starship Troopers expecting to see something at least vaguely related to the book and, instead were treated to a typical Verhoven bloodbath about giant insects vs dimwit teenage soldiers. Like I, Robot, a script re-write renamed some of the characters and a stuck in a few random references to events in Heinlein's book.

One of the reasons that the Lord of the Rings was so successful was that they actually adpated the story for film. If people had gone to LotR and it turned out to be a story about the Keebler elves, the film might not have been accepted as well.

I'm all for supporting a film adaptation of Asimov's robot stories (or Simak's or any of a dozen other well-written SF robot stories). It's the intentionally misleading use of a well-known Author's book to promote an unrelated movie that's got people so worked up.

The irony of it all, of course, is that "I, Robot" wasn't the original title of Asimov's book. An editor renamed it, borrowing the name from EandO Binder's earlier short story of the same name.

Anyway, a week won't be that bad. Use the time to read the real I, Robot or, if it's in your area, see Greg Pak's science fiction film about robots called Robot Stories.

Some early reviews ..., posted 16 Jul 2004 at 19:07 UTC by steve » (Master)

I've rounded up a few early reviews. If anyone see any others, good or bad, feel free to post links.

heathkit's review, mentioned earlier. (liked the movie)

Roger Ebert's review (didn't like it, two stars)

Rob Carr's review on Slashdot (liked it)

Kirk Honeycutt's review, Hollywood Reporter (didn't like it, "unoriginal")

A. O. Scott's review, New York Times (sort of liked it, "one of the smarter dumb movies of the summer")

Film Freak review (didn't like it, one star)

List of other reviews at Yahoo! movies

boycott!?!, posted 16 Jul 2004 at 21:20 UTC by ROB.T. » (Master)

Does it have robots in it? Sorry, gotta see it.

Another movie based on a book that didn't follow the story line was "Star Ship Trooper" who's story line was obviously based on "Armor" by John Steakley (One of my all-time favorite scifi books).

Nature Science Journal on I, Robot, posted 17 Jul 2004 at 21:04 UTC by steve » (Master)

There's a pretty good overview of the Asimov, robotics, the I, Robot book and movie and assorted other stuff in a new Nature column.

I have several things to say about the I-Robot mov, posted 19 Jul 2004 at 05:16 UTC by WhoPhlungPoo » (Journeyer)

I have several things to say about the I-Robot movie

1)I like to see Will Smith Shoot and blow up stuff 2)I like to see robots shoot and blow up stuff 3)I like even more to see Will Smith and robots shooting and blowing up stuff.

I have to say, who cares if the movie doesn't match the book; it was a lot of fun, nuff said.

I do have a question about the robots that people sent in, as I didn't see anything in the movie that resembled something we might create; all the robots, although very cool, appeared to be CGI; If you sent in your robot, please point out the scene where your robot is used. May bee they didn't make the cut, we might have to wait for the director's edition to see them. :(

Conflict required for HollyWood, posted 19 Jul 2004 at 16:22 UTC by Rog-a-matic » (Master)

This is a lost cause. If Hollywood is gonna make movies about robots then the story lines will include human's worst fears - Robots (or any technology) attacking people.

Robots and AI are particularly good subject matter because they are sufficently complicated to produce actions that are unexpected and screen writers can use that to create story lines that meet all the typical requirements. You'll never see a high-tech thriller where TV remotes go wild because they are simple enough that we have don't have fear of what they might do. This idea can only be taken so far and computer viruses are a good example. Most of us do not fear our computers, yet we shutter to think what would happen if a hacker in Nigeria gained access to our Quicken files.

Didn't see an ARobot in the movie but I may go again to look some more :)

4.5 stars.

Roger (robotics.com)

Reviews... I think this says it better!, posted 19 Jul 2004 at 17:31 UTC by topazx2 » (Master)

Will Smith beat all his past summer blockbuster records with "I, Robot," which chalked up an estimated $52.25 million over the weekend. As reported by WTEV.com, Los Angeles. Read more here: http://www.wtev.com/entertainment/story.aspx?content_id=59EF93A0-E313-4172-AC4C-DD76984CB3BD

-Dan Gates

Hobby robots in the movie, posted 19 Jul 2004 at 18:17 UTC by topazx2 » (Master)

Unfortunately, the scene that would have contained all of the Hobbyist's "Prop" robots was completely cut. They sure paid a lot of money to not even use the footage, but that's show biz. If you've seen the movie, you'll remember the part just after Spooner shoots Sonny and Sonny is fleeing the USR building wounded and spilling fluid. Spooner looks at Dr. Calvin and asks "Where would a robot go to repair itself?" and she replies "a robot repair shop" or something like that. Anyway, the next scene is in the USR distribution center and Sonny is all fixed. I suspect that an entire scene where Sonny breaks into the repair shop (where our hobby robots are), the building with the giant robot head, and finds the tools to repair himself. I know that the Michael Billings set design company would not have spent so much on our robots and other costly internal detail if they'd have thought only the outside of the building would be filmed and that only for a few seconds. I know from photos that the other store front sets did not have internal decore. If you're interested in what else was cut from the film, take a look at early pictures at this site pay special attention to the link with pictures from Front street in Westminster: http://www.hollywoodnorthreport.com/pages/insideirobot.htm#pictures I loved the movie and think this boycott is silly. We should be glad that the movie industry is including our pedly robots and willing to pay us for them. I support robot movies, I don't boycott them. If you'd like to see the robots that I sent to be filmed in the movie, you can go here --> http://www.sorobotics.org/dgates/ I'd like to know what other hobbtists robots were filmed, Roger Arrick's?? Which ones?? Any pics?? More Raves about i, Robot can be seen here --> http://www.robofolio.com/folio/news/index.html

-Dan Gates

another link, posted 19 Jul 2004 at 18:18 UTC by steve » (Master)

Yahoo! has a weekly table of movie revenue too:


Sequile, posted 19 Jul 2004 at 19:30 UTC by topazx2 » (Master)

I hope the numbers mean a sequile... one that needs more hobby robots!! -Dan

Outraged SiFi fans - Unfounded rage, posted 19 Jul 2004 at 19:48 UTC by topazx2 » (Master)

I just read the link posted in the opening to this thread <href=http://plyojump.com/weblog/2004_04_25_archive.html> and almost ALL of the claims are TOTALLY unfounded.
The movie follows almost to a 'T' what the writer says Proyas over looked even down to the "a few robots get around the First Law - but only by creating an even more powerful Zeroth Law that forces them to guard all of humanity."
I recommend that if you've seen the movie, read the comments in the above link that this whole boycott is based on and post whether you think this boycott is appropriate. -Dan

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