Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Commentary Review -- I, Robot

This Alex Proyas (director), Akiva Goldsman (final writer) pairing was thought provoking. They focus quite strongly on the writing of the work with small divertions into other comments on the actors. You want to learn how to write a film, these two guys are brilliant. I would say this commentary is the best "on the writing process" commentary I've ever heard. On other hand if you actually look at the final product and compare it with their commentary you might say these two are so sharp they cut theyselves.

I, Robot itself is a blend of detective drama and action set against a Robot filled future. So Proyas is attempting to blend character work, drama, detective clues, thought provoking future fiction, and a huge honking load of CGI into a cohesive product.

There's a bunch of embedded clues in the scenes which aren't going to help the average viewer a damn because the scenes are flying by at an action pace. Plus, to add to the "detectivy" feel of the film the character reveals are established in a "fractally" equivalent manner to the embedded clues. So now, the viewer has to track character clues and detective clues while the camera work is whizzing by and the CGI is luring your eye away from important information. PLUS, the emotional beats are set in dyads so you have to track those fuckers too. I mean damn, I thought I was watching a film, not engaging in an advanced class of information retention!!! The essential philosophical constructs are also embedded, and never explicitly stated. And you may begin to wonder, with everything being embedded in the film was anything explicit? Sure -- the huge honking assload of CGI.

"Are we making it too complex for a mass audience. Are we making it too rich and detailed?" Alex Proyas asks this question at the end of the film's commentary. Dudes, I felt like I needed cliff notes.

Alex Proyas is kind of known for highly stylized dark films, and I, Robot is a step in a different direction. You can feel his uncertainty in his hyper-control of the stylishness. And with Akiva you can feel him jockying each tick of the scene into place until it feels perfect. Once again you get the feel of people working the parts and not the whole, and as you listen to this commentary you can really sense why that happened.

It's no wonder that many viewers felt this film was a lame, shallow, summer action flick when in fact it was a compelling work of future fiction. Boys, you only got 90 or so minutes, you shouldn't try to make every damn film, you should try to make only one film.

On the other hand, these two guys are a learning experience to listen to. I am simply in awe. These two love science fiction, and boy I thought I was a geekling, but I got NOTHING on these two.

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