This sci-fi story deserves another shot on the big screen
The era of renewed life in science fiction films has arrived, with Dune and the next one Matrix: Resurrections marking the return of these sci-fi staples to popular culture. With all of that momentum in mind, maybe it’s time for other sci-fi stories to have another chance to shine on the big screen. that of Isaac Asimov I robot has yet to find success on the big screen, but this modern era of science fiction indicates that a precise and successful adaptation is possible.
I robot First started as a series of similarly themed, but ultimately unrelated, stories published in science fiction magazines between 1940 and 1950 Isaac Asimov. These stories were then compiled by Asimov and, through some rewrites, were given a guideline. This collection was then released in 1950 under the title I robot, although Asimov wants a different name due to the title removed from the work of an earlier writer. While only printing 5,000 copies in its initial edition, this work would gain immense fame and become the foundation for much of science fiction concerning robots, AI, and the three laws of science. robotic.
There has already been a film adaptation of Asimov’s work: Will Smith starred in a version of I robot released in 2004. While this film was a hit or miss with critics, currently at 56% on Rotten Tomatoes, it strayed quite far from the original story. There are things built in, like a robot that is to be found in a room of similar robots and an AI that makes unexpected choices to follow the laws of robotics, but these feel more inspired than adapted from the original work. This sentiment persists throughout the film, as only the names and the occasional scene are taken from Asimov’s handwriting.
Asimov’s I robot focuses on Dr. Susan Calvin, who is interviewed for a journalistic article about her work with robots over the years. Having seen the invention of robots and knowing their arc intimately over decades of advancement, Calvin tells several stories about the jumps she has observed. Each of these little stories is shown in a flashback as people discuss the various new developments, both known and unexpected, surrounding robotic AI.
There has already been a more direct attempt to adapt which unfortunately came to naught. In the 1970s, Harlan Ellison, author of several classic science fiction stories such I have no mouth and I have to scream, wrote a treatment for a screenplay adaptation in coordination with Isaac Asimov. Asimov was reportedly very excited about the treatment, stating that it would be “the first truly mature, complex and valuable science fiction film ever made”. Unfortunately for Asimov, Ellison was known for his temper and had an argument with the producers over some script changes. This resulted in the project being dead in the water, and this version was only seen in a released version of the script.
The original premise, while outwardly looking like the perfect setup for a series with all the different stories, would actually work much better as a movie. The shorter length of these flashbacks means they work better to lean on each other in sequence. Telling them separately in a series would make them feel too distant and out of touch as a whole. The thread running through these stories is already there, and the ending could possibly be extended to allow for a more satisfying ending.
It may also be time for another shot due to three important factors: the technology available, the directors, and the time. Part of the reason the producers of Ellison’s version were so quick to shut things down was also because the technology was not yet advanced enough to properly present everything Asimov had written. This is clearly not a problem with modern movies, as almost anything can be done with CGI. The robots in his vision could be designed down to the smallest detail.
As for the directors, Denis Villeneuve has shown that he is a more than competent director. With Blade runner, and probably with the next Dune Additionally, Villeneuve has shown that he can easily grasp an original sci-fi vision and turn it into a gripping film. The continuous stretching of films also means that if an adaptation were to be made, it could take as long as needed to ensure it was as faithful to the book as possible.
Although it is believed that with the already released Will Smith adaptation and several other sci-fi films raising ideas from Asimov’s book, a new adaptation might not be accepted as original. However, given the difference between Smith’s version and the book, and if this one was marketed properly as an author, this film could possibly stand on its own. There are still enough interesting and original ideas at Asimov I robot that remains to be seen. It just needs to find a solid foundation before this wave of enthusiasm for sci-fi adaptations happens.
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