HTF UMD REVIEW: I, Robot

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by David Galindo, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    [c]I, Robot (UMD)
    Region 1 • PG-13 • Stereo Sound • Available Now

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    I, Robot is on par with the other four first generation UMD releases from Fox. Not a good thing considering Fox has been doing quite poorly for their first effort of new UMD releases.

    Thoughts on the Movie

    Let me tell you something… if you haven’t seen Dark City, you absolutely need to buy it. I have seen it at Best Buy and other stores for as little as $5 new, and it’s one of the best sci-fi movies I have ever seen.

    Alex Proyas, who made Dark City, also made I, Robot, which pales in comparison. I don’t think (at least, I hope) Proyas intended to make a dark and deep film with Robot, but instead created a pretty good action film with lots of special effects.

    I, Robot is actually completely opposite of Dark City. Whereas DC was a dark thriller with an almost morbid look at the future, Robot shows optimism and a more glorious landscape. So fantastic is the future that the movie has a few hiccups while it tries to steer the camera towards the action, especially when all that cool future stuff is going on. For example, Detective Spooner (Will Smith) asks for some sugar in his coffee, and the camera freezes on a close up of his hand spooning sugar into the mug for three seconds… you know, just in case we missed those cool futuristic orange sugar crystals! (The movie makes it a point to have Spooner wear “Vintage 2004 Converse” sneakers. Uh huh… )

    I have to say this movie, while very entertaining, definitely feels like a hollow summer action film. Consider this curious moment: during a riot in the streets, Spooner’s grandmother gets to her door to leave. The robot stops her, already under evil control. “But I need to go to Service!” she says, with a book under her arm with a gold trim. Later we see her praying, “Because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved…”

    This tells me one of three things. Either the screenwriter doesn’t know anything about religion, or this movie is trying to stay on a fair plane with the audience by not associating any main type of religion to the grandmother. (Or that I am crazy and should seek help). But think about it: In Spider-Man, Parker’s grandmother is clearly saying the Hail Mary prayer… whereas the grandmother in I, Robot is saying a generic prayer that only mentions He. Why? Maybe I've never heard of that prayer, but curious nonetheless.

    Eh, no matter. This is a solid action film from a man that can clearly do much better, and has.


    Video Quality

    While Fox has cropped movies to fit in the PSP screen by only a couple millimeters, I, Robot hurts the most. They’ve cropped it from 2.35 all the way to 1.78, which is quite a bit of movie to lose.

    Up until this point, I haven’t really seen what Fox could do in the video department. Napoleon Dynamite was an independent film (ok video quality) and Predator’s age got in the way of the transfer (which turned out pretty dang good). Robot definitely looks sharp, but the color is a bit lacking. Not as bad as Napoleon, but still noticeable. Aside from that, it’s a pretty decent transfer.

    3/5
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    Audio Quality

    So far I’ve seen UMDs that have Dolby Headphone tracks (T2), Dolby Digital Surround (Gone in 60 Seconds)… so there is no excuse for these stereo tracks that Fox puts on their UMDs.

    It sounds OK, but if you have a decent home theater setup and have seen the I, Robot DVD, then you know that the film sounds amazing. The UMD doesn’t, especially in one of the best scenes (the tunnel). In fact, the overall volume is a bit lacking, and sure enough I popped in Black Hawk Down afterwards and was blown away.

    Sigh… I hope this trend doesn’t continue with Fox.

    2/5
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    Extras

    The menus are bland, we get the same trailers from Predator (AvP and Alien), and there is no chapter selection. To top it off, there are almost 40 chapter stops. Now, that might sound good in theory… but it sucks. Skipping chapters is very slow on the PSP, which is why I prefer the sparse chapter stops and no chapter menu as opposed to this. Heck, you could fast forward through the whole movie and get where you want to go a lot faster.

    I do like the fact that when you pop in the UMD, you go straight to the menu- no logos, no nothing. Of course, since you have to play the movie from the beginning each time and go through all the legal warnings, it kind of diminishes the point.

    0.5/5
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    Overall…

    You really need to watch Dark City if you haven’t seen it yet. It also has a great commentary track by Roger Ebert. Go out and buy that DVD!

    But this UMD… well, it’s disappointing, and to charge $30 for something that doesn’t really deliver in any department is reprehensible.

    1.5/5
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  2. Marshall W. Carter

    Marshall W. Carter Stunt Coordinator

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    What she's saying is actually a Psalm (of David I would assume). 16:8 if I'm not mistaken...Google-searched it.
     
  3. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Really? Sounded very generic to me, so I assumed too much. Thanks!
     
  4. Ingo

    Ingo Auditioning

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    I bought the RC2 I,Robot UMD a couple of days ago and I'm actually pretty pleased with it. The movie is indeed fullscreen, but it wasn't exactly chopped to fit the PSP screen either. Instead Fox seemed to have opted for opening up the matte for the PSP transfer. There's no picture information missing compared to my I,Robot DVD(which is in 2.35 aspect ratio), instead there's way more picture information on both top and bottom.
    Is the RC1 UMD of I, Robot really chopped? Kinda hard to believe that Fox would encode different video streams for different regions when the hardware is identical. (No Pal/NTSC with UMD movies)

    In terms of picture quality this is actually my favorite UMD so far: the detail is amazing, the colors are great and signs of video compressions are nowhere to be found. The black levels have a bit of a greenish tint to them but I don't think that's due to video transfer errors.
     

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