Now I Understand Why Everyone Was So Offended by I, Robot

Right now I’m attempting to read through a giant number of sci-fi books that were suggested to me in this post. So far, I’ve gotten through Foundation, Unwound and am currently almost done with I, Robot. Back when the Will Smith film came out, I didn’t quite understand the┬ácontroversy. It seemed like a harmless enough popcorn flick, and how different from the book could it really be?

The answer? So, so much different. I really get the anger now, as the only thing the two appear to have in common is the fact that robots appear in each of them. While Asimov’s classic sci-fi tale is a collection of short stories examining the intricacies that come along with the development of an advanced robot’s psyche, the movie features a robot whose biggest revelation appears to be the concept of “I,” but even his story is overshadowed by Will Smith getting new Converse shoes.

It’s sad that no one bothered to make a remotely faithful version of the book, which is one of the most fascinating sci-fi tales I’ve read. I bet someone like Duncan Jones or Ridley Scott could handle it with care, and perhaps someday we’ll get a real version in theaters.

The worst part of the film? The fact that on my Kindle the above image is the only one available for the title, and will forever tarnish my library with the mortal sin of a movie poster as a book cover. The horror…the horror…

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  1. What I heard is that the movie was originally an original screenplay (caller Hardwired, I think) that didn’t get greenlit until they attached the Asimov name to it. And Will Smith. Sometimes I hate loving movies.

  2. You guys can thank to the test audiences that didn’t get the original ending (and the entire meaning behind the title of the book/movie) and forced the tacked-on ending that makes no sense and looks like it was put together in 3 days.

    Personally, I wish they had just used actors in make-up, face prosthetics, eye contacts, etc…instead of cgi. I know it’s a small nitpick, but it honestly would’ve made the movie more watchable imo.

  3. Well Spielberg is directing ‘Robopocalypse’.. slated for summer 2013. A similar concept to Asimov’s Robot but of course with apocalypse level of proportions.
    Book is really great read, although it’s much more modern writing.. compared to I Robot.

  4. Can I throw out another book for you to add to your read-list?

    A Fire upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. Absolutely blew my mind. It’s amazing.

    As far as book to movie transitions go, Starship troopers suffered the same fate as what you’re describing. I saw it a few times growing up and really enjoyed it. I read the book recently, it even though I still like the movie, it has no business being called Starship Troopers.

  5. The same thing happened with the book I Am Legend. The movie was just another apocalyptic horror flick, but the book was an amazing sci-fi pyschological mystery thriller.

  6. The movie is actually really faithful to Asimov’s vision of the Future and machines the Three laws of robotics are a big part of the movie, as are some of Asimov’s recurring Characters It’s just not the book. But it wouldn’t be the first movie that was based on a property or franchise that that ended up with the name of a more recognizable part of the work.

  7. I am a big Asimov fan and was disappointed in the movie from a fans point of view. The movie had traces of several Asimov short stories, not all of which were in the collection irobot. There were elements of robot dreams and little lost robot.

    Read the original Asimov short story Bicentennial Man to realize the Robin Williams movie was also a travesty.

  8. Why the hate for Will Smith on these movies? He’s not the movie studio/director/writer who decides the plot. He is just doing what hes written to do…

  9. “The mortal sin of a movie poster as a book cover”… haha damn right, I also hate it when your get stuck with the cover of a shitty movie OST instead of a proper album cover for your favorite songs.

  10. My understanding is that there is a freeware program called Calibre which will let you replace the artwork in that eBook, should you so desire.
    I agree, the movie I, Robot had 70% of a different storyline that Asimov’s.
    As an independent movie, it wasn’t bad.. but my expectations were much higher for the movie and I was also disappointed. After watching it a 2nd time on DVD, I can still appreciate the movie.. but I know it had nothing to do with Asimov. They should not have used his name in vain to garner such an interest. It was a deceitful tactic.

    However, as one of his lesser stories.. I find that I don’t care that much.
    Now, if they did the same with some of the other series.. the Robot series (The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun…) Foundation Series..
    My peers and I would be protesting in the streets in our nerdy regalia!

  11. @ponder, actually, Will Smith did move in and make a Scientological Scatalogical Farce from it. He was the producer. But essentially the above summationwas correct. There was a script loosely resembling it, Smith was attached to it. They still weren’t sure if it would pull together any money, so they took a treatment for I, Robot which Alexi Proyas was attached to, and put both in a blender and the mangled mess you saw came out. Yes, not bad for a popcorn flick, but the Fresh prince has no reverence for source material. Unless you think Wild Wild West or Men in Black resemble the originals. And if you do, shoot yourself in the colon.

  12. If you want to take it deeper, Asimov’s publisher ripped off the title “I, Robot” to begin with. Against Asimov’s wishes. “I, Robot” was originally a short story written by Binder. It’s sort of a robotic Frankenstein adaptation.

  13. the very same anger I had after those retarded Bourne movies came out. Read the books and you’ll see they didn’t even try to cover any of the novels in those horrible movies.

  14. What i think your all missing is the real philosophic undertones of both the film and text. What Asimov and the film had in common was the question: what is life and what does it really mean to be conscious? The film and the story did a great job of presenting the issue of what’ll happen when robots gain consciousness.

    Honestly though, If you want to start bashing movie to screen adaptations look at nearly any book/movie combo. (Don’t judge too harshly) My favorite movie has been and probably will always be Jurassic Park. When i heard there was a book naturally i picked it up and read it. The book was amazing! By far one of my favorite books of all time. If compared just the raw plot-line then I would have to say that my favorite movie sucked ass by comparison.

    Bottom Line: One cannot compare the two industries fairly. A book has a longer time to develop characters, plots and even sub plots whereas a film has to cater to millions, within a 2-3 hour block so that it’s audiences will stay entertained.

    Besides, Will Smith’s converse was a nice add-in.

  15. I am Legend by Richard Matheson is responsible for a lot of our ‘humanoid monster/zombie/vampire horror: Romero’s Dead, King’s Salem’s Lot, etc. etc. It was a poignant study on the effects of siege mentality upon a single man, combined with the unique aspect of an everyman attempting to apply scientific method to monster myth. Tremendously smart, especially considering it was written in ’54 or something?

    Pretty sure that during production on “I Am Legend”, Will Smith was quoted as saying ‘We’re taking a complex psychological character study, and making it a SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER!’

    That said, the scene with the dog and the subsequent scene in the DVD store ‘I promised a friend I’d say hello’… The only time I felt that Mr. Smith even approached the world and problems of Mr. Neville. Other than that, he was mr. ‘super-soldier/general/scientist/blast doors Bob Villa’ bleh. And his rescuers AT NIGHT? A mother and child with virtually no visible weaponry. Sigh.

    Obviously, strongly agree, both with I, Robot and I am Legend… Will Smith-ified to no good end.

  16. I Am Legend would have definitely been better as a direct adaptation of the book (from my perspective and no one else’s of course, LOL!).

    I, Robot was a good read, but I feel it would have had horrible book to film translation. That said, the movie stands pretty good on its own as a movie I can easily watch every now and then.

    @ drak: I have not read the book, Bicentennial Man, but don’t you dare call one of my favorite movies ever a ‘travesty!’ I loved every character and everything that happened from beginning to end in that movie. Being based (however loosely) on some amazing source material WILL NEVER take this movie away from me!

  17. So basically he didn’t like the movie because Will Smith was the main character -_- …..oh and I’ve the original story and the plots trash. (even though its not THAT different from the movie)

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