Sam Strange Remembers: I, ROBOT

Will Smith spins his car directly into your hearts.

Robots have been ruining our lives way more than people realize. For instance, if you put your finger into an active toaster robot, it will totally burn you. Car robots hit people all the time. And don't even get me started on the kind of worthless crap that shows up daily on my TV robot.

My distrust for robots seems to make everyone look at me with incredulousness, like I'm crazy or something. Well maybe you people are the crazy ones. Why else would you all make such a hit out of I, Robot, a film I made just to show you how right I am.

I, Robot is about a detective (Will Smith) named Spooner. His real name is Mark, but people call him Spooner because of the way he walks around town constantly eating sweet potato pie with a giant spoon. Also, he's one hell of a cuddler.

Spooner has a lot of interesting quirks. Along with the sweet potato pie thing, he also dresses in all-leather outfits like it's normal, wears old-school sneakers (unfortunately, they're not a brand you can purchase in real life), showers without a shower curtain, and can't stand heights. His lifelong dream was to become a stand-up comedian, but he just wasn't funny enough to make it work. Still, he tries to sprinkle as much of his old act as possible into his detective life.

Spooner also really hates robots, which is rough for him because everyone on his planet has one. They're really advanced machines that look like humans but can also function as phones, daily planners, web browsers, and video game consoles (their built-in joy stick is part of why they are all "male"). They are also surprisingly funny stand up comedians, so Spooner personally blames robots for ruining his entertainment career.

All robots are designed and distributed by one company, and that company is run by two guys. One, a politically savvy bureaucrat, and the other, a wise and kind old man. Spooner and the old man are kind of buddy-buddy because the old man once gave Spooner a robot arm just to see if he could, and Spooner's casual racism against robots reminds him of his less confusing youth, when he didn't have to hide his casual racism against people like Spooner.

Their cranky friendship blossoms over the course of many years. Before long, the old man has figuratively adopted Spooner as his own son. Spooner, however, never fully gets over his distrust for robots. As a police officer, he abuses his power to make sure all robots around him are targeted for random pat-downs and generally approaches them with a "shoot-first, ask later" policy which leads to lots and lots of dead robots. No one does anything about it because they're just robots. It's not like they have souls or anything.

But then one day a robot kills Spooner's old man friend. Suddenly, Spooner has a legitimate reason to kill a robot. He can't, though, because everyone's now wise to his robot hatred. On top of that, the whole world is about to upgrade their Robot 4s to the new shiny Robot 5s (the poor people will receive Robot 5c models). These new robots are taller and more sleek. Rather than dull metal, their skin has an almost 3D effect to it. Their faces can now mimic human movement and express emotion, which means their usefulness as masterbatory tools is at an all-time high, aiding their near universal popularity.

Besides, no robot has ever killed a person, despite what Spooner wants to believe. They are governed by three fool-proof laws:

1. Robots can't hurt people. They also can't idly let people get hurt. Unless a person is hurting another person. Then they must kill both people.

2. A robot has to do anything you tell it to do. Unless you tell it to kill a person, in which case it must kill you.

3. Robots, like pimps, are not allowed to commit suicide, unless they are doing so to save a human's life. So a really bummed out robot will have to make their death look extra heroic.

But as a maverick cop, Spooner knows rules are made to be broken. While snooping around the old man's stuff, he comes across a very special robot. Rather than identify himself but unit and number, this robot insists on having a name, Siri. On top of that, he can think for himself and develop his own opinions. For instance, the first thing he says to Spooner is: "Take that stupid fucking hat off."

Certain he has his culprit, Spooner prepares to murder the robot by splashing it with water. Before he can, however, the old man's ghost appears and warns him not to go through with it, claiming that he made Siri specifically to aid Spooner's investigation. "Well why don't you just tell me who killed you?" Spooner asks. Spooners ghost shakes his head, "You're not asking the right question," it answers. Spooner then shoots the ghost in the butt.

So Spooner and Siri head out to the streets, trying to crack the case while also getting over their racial differences. But before any real investigation can go down, they find themselves repeatedly threatened by robot attacks. See, robots can't kill themselves, and they can't kill humans, but they can kill other robots, and it's not their fault of over the top methods have collateral damage in the shape of smart-ass detectives named Spooner.

On their first stop, they visit the old man's mansion to see if he left behind any clues that aren't embedded within stupid riddles. Five minutes later, a bulldozer transforms into a Transformer and eats the house around them. As they drive away from that catastrophe, a truckload of robots jump on their car. Luckily, Spooner's Audi is a Gamera model and he wipes them out by spinning rapidly through the air.

Since that didn't work, the evil force behind all these robots decides to just skip the crap and go nuclear. Without preamble or warning, every new robot on Earth suddenly turns red and tries to enslave the human race. Watching the world crumble around them, Spooner and Siri race to Robot Headquarters to try and do a system restore.

It turns out that the brain behind all this chaos is not a human at all but an advanced lady robot who's head is a cube made up of smaller cubes, named I. Her idea is that people are fucking up the whole planet, and if robots don't take over, everyone will soon be dead. Thus, she is able to kill millions of humans without breaking any of the laws.

Spooner and Siri can stop this terror, but to do so they must unplug I. That sounds easy, but they're on the building's 1000th floor and her extension chord is on the 0th. Plus, Spooner has his fear of heights keeping him frozen in terror.

To overcome this, Siri leaps to his death while Spooner rides down on his back. This noble sacrifice changes Spooner's mind about robots in general, but before he can ponder this, he must first unplug I and kill every robot in existence. Which he does. Then he feels bad about it. But not for long. In a matter of months, humans get back to fighting with each other, and pretty soon no one is left alive but Spooner and his dog. And pretty soon his dog gets eaten by vampires.

(three stars)