At the end of each month, I realize I need to go through all my DVDs, NetFlix and my movie list in search of that one film that was critically panned and bombed at the box office in an effort to find a film that was sadly written off and discarded for whatever reason there is. Sometimes it's because of timing. Sometimes it's because of poor publicity. Then again, sometimes it's because the film really is that bad.
Not gonna lie, this is not the greatest movie ever made. Not by a long shot. On the other hand, I don't believe it was as bad as everyone made it out to be. Of course, I realize this is coming from a critic who asked people to give North, the infamous bomb by Rob Reiner, a second chance, but bare with me.
The film is based on a popular novel/novella by Asimov, the legendary robotics author whose books paved the way for a large number of successful films, including I, Robot. Having not read the books, I can't speak for them. I can say that the story IDEA behind the movie is incredible.
The script, however, doesn't do the story line justice. It's interesting to watch as Andrew does his best to understand everything around him. You'd think some moments of common sense would already be programmed into him, but the company proves otherwise. The wide variety of unusual moments spans from “We're fine Andrew.” “Indeed you are, sir.” to Andrew jumping out a window at the request of one of his masters.
The acting in the movie is decent, with Williams mostly repeating his performance in Jack. Innocent and childlike. Sure, there's much more he could've accomplished in this, but then it wouldn't be featured on here now would it? I went back and double checked myself, thinking I could've just imagined the whole thing. However, I was wrong.
Hallie Kate Eisenberg is poorly cast in her role which is, thankfully, only in the first half-hour or so. She was still in that Pepsi Girl stage and hadn't changed much.
The length of the film is borderline unbearable. It takes a lot of patience to watch two hundred years be cramped into two hours and eleven minutes, which is still pushing it in my opinion.
Despite all of this, the film is not that bad. It's interesting to watch as Andrew grows and matures over the two centuries.
One of the best moments in the film is the wedding of “Little Miss”. The scene in which we see her older self and her father dancing, projected by Andrew onto a small pool, is incredible.
The most amazing thing about this film is the music, which could go unsaid if it wasn't as incredible as it is. James Horner, long time veteran of the sci-fi genre of music, did his best to salvage the movies poor reputation.
What killed this film? Casting, marketing, subject matter, and effects.
This film was made soon after Williams won his Academy Award for his astounding performance in Good Will Hunting. He has very little humor in the film, save the occasional bit that makes him more quirky than funny. Coming off the heels of Patch Adams, the script for him seemed hastily done in order to benefit as what seemed to be a continuation of his “humorous realistic characters.” And as stated before, the “Pepsi” girl was a poor choice. She also manages to develop a British accent somewhere between the thirty minute mark and the thirty five minute mark.
I watched the trailer of this film before and after watching the film itself. I also checked out a number of advertisements for the film. Disney tried to pass it off as more of a comedy than what it really is.
Isaac Asimov was not a comedian by any means and was a very dry individual himself. Some of his work may be satirical in a sense, but none of it is classic Robin Williams style comedy. This film is a dark, intriguing look at deep subjects such as slavery, love and individuality. In reality, there is very little true fall out of your chair comedy in this film.
The dark material is also a reason it flopped. More and more films about racism, slavery, personality, “being who you were meant to be” were being made at the time, ranging from the Academy Award winning American Beauty to this box office flop featured here. Both carry a similar image, though American Beauty modernizes it and does so much more gracefully.
I told myself before I watched this: “it was made in 1999, not 2009”, but even that isn't a good enough excuse. With films like The Matrix, Toy Story and Star Wars Episode I, I realized there was no room for another excuse like that. The special effects in this movie aren't very good. Not worthy of an Academy Award anyway.
In my opinion, this is a film DEFINITELY worth viewing. It's not groundbreaking so don't expect that. It's not Williams's best performance so don't expect that either.
However, it is an inspiring story with a beautiful score by Horner. If you need any reason to watch this movie, that's definitely a good one.