The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio mix is also excellent. Optional Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mixes are included in French and Spanish with removable subtitles provided in English, Spanish, Cantonese and Korean. Dialogue is clean and clear and pretty much flawless while the sound effects are handled just as well (you'll really notice them kicking in during the first shoot out where Smith winds up chasing the robot or the scene where Smith saves the cat from the attack). Marco Beltrami's score also sounds very powerful here, with plenty of channel separation ensuring that it sounds as epic as it is supposed to. Levels are all properly balanced and bass response is very strong and very tight without becoming completely overwhelming.
The supplements start off with the first of three commentary tracks (feel free to jump around the three tracks as you see fit using the green button on your Blu-ray remote!) from director Alex Proyas and writer Akiva Goldsman. This is a strong, general commentary that covers everything you'd expect from a writer/director team. The cover casting, effects work, influence, and how they wanted the film to be as realistic as possible. They talk about ideas they had for the film that never happened and why those ideas had to be canned, and they talk about some of their previous efforts as well. This is a very strong track that is packed with a lot of great information.
The second commentary comes courtesy of writer Jeff Vintar, production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, editor Richard Learoyd, SFX supervisor John Nelson, producer John Kilkenny, animation supervisor Andrew Jones and visual effects supervisor Erik Nash. As you can probably imagine, the focus of this track is on the digital effects employed in the film and the design work conjured up to give the picture it's distinct futuristic look. This discussion is almost completely technical so it may alienate those not fascinated by the technology behind the movie magic we see up on the screen, but that said, this is a very detailed and interesting talk that covers almost every aspect of the digital technology used in the film.
The third and final track allows composer Marco Beltrami to discuss his contributions to the film, which is a nice change of pace as it's rare that composers are given their own solo commentary. What makes this track so interesting is that it allows an expert to explain how and why different musical interpretations can completely change a film in whole or in part. Beltrami does get fairly theoretical in spots and there's a good chance this will go over the heads of those not already gung-ho for film scores but this track sheds some much deserved light on a very important and often times equally underappreciated aspect of film production.
The red button on your remote allows you to access a bunch of scene specific supplemental material while the movie plays out. You can also access this material through the extras menu screens on their own. Here's a look (these are all presented in standard definition)...
First up is the seventy-five minute featurette, Day Out Of Days: Production Diaries. This is a pretty in-depth look at the making of the film and while it covers some of the same ground as the director's commentary track, it's still interesting to see what went into the film from the pre-production work all the way through the shooting of the picture down to the post-production efforts. Most of the principal cast and crew members are interviewed here and they give their thoughts on the film and share some of their experiences from their work on the picture, and as such it's a pretty well-rounded look at the making of the movie.
Up next is a twenty minute featurette entitled CGI And Design that, as you can probably guess from the title, takes a look at the CGI work and the design work created for the film. Again, this covers some of the same ground as the second commentary track but having the visuals here makes this really worthwhile. We get a look at the production art and various design sketches as well as a wealth of storyboard material and effects footage.
Sentient Machines - Robotic Behavior is a thirty-five minute featurette that explores robots have evolved over history. While it doesn't specifically relate to the making of the movie it's never the less a completely relevant subject to cover and it makes for very interesting viewing. We learn about the early days of mechanical robotics and travel through time to the present where we learn about developments being made in the field of artificial intelligence.
The nine minute Filmmaker's Toolbox mini-documentary is a brief look at what the three special effects companies who worked on the film were responsible for. Basically, we get a look at how a basic, filmed scene is taken and digitally altered by computer and effects technicians until it becomes the polished finished product that makes it into the final cut of the movie.
Also included here are two deleted scenes and two alternate endings. With a combined running time of approximately seven minutes, these are pretty brief but it's nice to see them included here even if it's obvious that the ending in the film is far superior and that the deleted scenes wouldn't have added much had they been included.
Unfortunately, the powers that be in Fox's Blu-ray department opted not to include roughly ninety minutes of behind the scenes footage and documentary material that was included on the standard definition special edition DVD release, meaning that the documentaries that appear on this disc are trimmed down quite a bit from their SD SE counterparts.
As far as the menu interface for this release goes, there's good and there's bad. The good? You can switch back and forth between the commentary tracks on the fly and the commentaries also have their own chapter selections so that if you want to go straight to a specific part of a specific discussion, you can do that. On the other hand, for some reason you're only allowed to access bonus material related to the specific chapter of the film that you're watching and often when you open one of these bonus features, you'll notice some lag, which is particularly irritating when you're rewarded for your patience with a very brief segment, sometimes less than a minute in length. While the idea of being able to access the behind the scenes material as you watch the film is an interesting one, there's still some work to be done in regards to how it's employed and in the case of this specific release, it is far more convenient and much less frustrating to access this material through the bonus features menu on its own. On the plus side, if you press the blue button on your remote you'll be given an alphabetized index of all the supplemental content that allows you to go exactly where you want. Also, pressing the yellow button during the film brings up a 'pop up video' style trivia track that is actually really interesting as it touches on a lot of minutia that the other supplements do not. The Blu-ray disc also allows for personal scene selection and the feature is D-Box Motion Code enhanced.
I, Robot is a surprisingly good work of suspenseful science fiction cinema and this Blu-ray disc from Fox presents the film in the best quality available and with an interesting (if incomplete) batch of supplemental material to boot. Highly recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.