This is rare, nuanced storytelling, anchored by one of Brad Pitt’s career-best performances and remarkable technical elements on every level. It’s a special film.
I went to see the "Robots" film with my wife and, although the film is stunning visually and in conception, we both felt uncomfortable while watching. We ended up leaving after 30 minutes. Here were the problems we had with this movie:
1. The parents put together their own child from spare parts and it's not called an invention, yet, when their son creates his own robot from spare parts, he is supposed to be some inventive genius.
2. The robots "eat" bolts and other hardware for nourishment in the bar, something which has always annoyed me personally about robots in movies (except for Data in STNG). They're shown "chewing" these parts, but that would be metal grinding on metal. My car doesn't eat metal, it runs on gasoline. My "robotic" appliances run on electricity, not spare parts. Robots in this movie apparently have no problem with cannibalism.
3. The son creates a robot to help his dad do the dishes. This robot is no greater or lesser than any other robot in this film -- they're ALL robots. When this robot did the job about 10 times better than his father ever could, my first thought was for the Dad, "Oh great, my son put me out of a job." If I were the owner, I'd fire the dad on the spot.
4. The son has essentially created a lower class of robot, a slave if you will (and an emotionally sensitive one at that), whose only purpose in "life" is to wash dishes on behalf of the father.
5. Robin Williams' ad libs get annoying when you've heard them for the 5000th time (yes, he recycles almost everything). The Jeanie in "Aladdin" was hilarious, but now his cartoon character schtick is dated. Robin doesn't need to be funny to be damned good ("Good Will Hunting").
6. The method of transport shown in the film is not only brutal to the occupant, but inefficient -- too much work to get where you're going. In a true Robot world, efficiency must rule.
This movie suffers from a common movie problem: the world you create must be believable and internally consistent. If you have created fantasy, then you must develop the rules of that fantasy and not break them. Since Robots are rooted in reality, Robots already obey certain rules and you cannot break them. Since people, upon whom these Robots are based, are also rooted in reality, these Robots must further obey human rules and you cannot break those without good reason.
Unfortunately, in order to be cute and fun to watch by 4-year-olds, too much liberty is taken and my ability to suspend disbelief cracks under the pressure. It's too bad really, because it could have been a great film.
Of course, I can always watch "The Incredibles."
Nathan Dickson Westerville, Ohio
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