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I, Robot
Composed, Co-Conducted and Produced by:
Marco Beltrami

Co-Orchestrated and Co-Conducted by:
Pete Anthony

Co-Orchestrated by:
Randy Kerber
Carlos Rodriguez
Ceiri Torjussen
Frank Bennett
Chris Guardino
Marcus Trumpp
Bill Boston
Dennis Smith
Jim Honeyman
Jon Kull

Preformed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony

The Hollywood Film Chorale

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
July 20th, 2004

Also See:
Terminator 3
Dark City
The Matrix

Audio Clips:
3. I, Robot Theme (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

8. Chicago 2035 (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

14. Spiderbots (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

15. Round Up (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release.


I, Robot

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Buy it... if you can be contented with ten to fifteen minutes of engaging action cues that are representative of Marco Beltrami's slowly maturing blockbuster style of the era.

Avoid it... if you accept nothing less than compelling, passionate, and instrumentally intelligent music for one of the most intriguing science-fiction stories of all time.

I, Robot: (Marco Beltrami) When Isaac Asimov conjured the three laws governing robots in 1940 and eventually wrote them into the I, Robot screenplay in the 1970's, the heralded doctor claimed that this story could be made into one of the greatest science-fiction films of all time. What he could not predict, however, was the haphazard direction that Hollywood, governed now by its ability to create wizardry in the special effects department, would take as an industry. In the era of thousands of CGI spiders, spaceships, and robots per frame, the integrity of no story is safe. By the time I, Robot could be made into a feature film, the industry stood eagerly awaiting the opportunity to pour every cliche and digital effect into a recipe in which Asimov had demanded more logic and contemplation as primary ingredients. Having Will Smith as the bad cop at center stage is perhaps all the indication you need that I, Robot was one massively disappointing screw-up waiting to happen. Compelling theories of robotics and humanity are summarily replaced by a reckless Men in Black wannabe who talks smack and blows away countless evil droids. What doesn't make sense about I, Robot is how its director, Alex Proyas, could produce such a boring, formula-driven film such as this, especially after he proved to the world with Dark City that he could provide stylish and sophisticated science fiction for another generation of futuristic thinkers. One of the best assets of Dark City was its highly underrated score by veteran composer Trevor Jones, and he was once again slated to work with Proyas on I, Robot. Despite a relatively slow period of activity for the professor, however, the final session dates for this project overlapped with those for Around the World in 80 Days. The composer was extremely disappointed by this conflict, and despite his intense interest in expanding upon some futuristic sketches he had completed for the film, he had to bow out with little time remaining, leaving his loyal following of hardcore collectors equally frustrated.

Perpetuating the trend in Hollywood of having a replacement composer write a large, orchestrally budgeted score in just a few weeks, Proyas saw the job go to 36-year-old Marco Beltrami with only 17 days to render the fully-finished work. Beltrami was introduced to the summer blockbuster scene in earnest the previous year, with his adequate, but uninspired score for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines announcing his mainstream arrival. On the upswing, though, Beltrami's intriguing score for Hellboy earlier in 2004 showed signs that the young composer was truly ready for full-fledged fantasy and science-fiction projects. Beltrami made the best of his 17 days and wrote a substantial score for 95 orchestral musicians and 25 choral performers. And yet, in so doing, he reverted back to the stylistic weaknesses of Terminator 3, composing a score with all the makings of a winner, but lacking the passion or cohesive glue to pull it all together. Beltrami is very loyal to the orchestra in this effort, putting the electronics in subsidiary role from start to end. This choice could be questioned, for if Beltrami really wanted to create a strong ambience for the robots, then perhaps a constant electronic counterpoint might have been advisable. Thematically, his primary identity is an evocative highlight of the entire work, a potential-filled minor-key melody referenced in fragments throughout (as in "Spooner Spills") but overshadowed by swirls of activity in many instances. An electronically altered solo string performance (or perhaps a processed version of a duduk or other Middle Eastern instrument) of the theme over the end credits is both engaging and interesting, however the structural problems of inherent in Beltrami's rhythms and his conscious choice to keep this music off-balanced causes the theme to lose its attractiveness. Throughout the entirety of his effort, he emphasizes sharp brass ostinatos that rotate through octaves in jagged formations, often with wildly hyperactive strings accenting scales in between those octaves. Perhaps this technique is best described as Beltrami's sincere effort to emulate the styles of Elliot Goldenthal and Jerry Goldsmith and roll them into one unique package.

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Unfortunately, Beltrami's rather anonymous personality for I, Robot doesn't really work as anything better than basically sufficient background ambience in context. Several major cues fail to maintain any sense of purpose, though there are short individual highlights worth mentioning, if only for their resemblance to possible temp track placements. The "Chicago 2035" cue is saturated with the influences from Goldenthal's epic writing, for instance, and the final two cues on the album, "Spiderbots" and "Round Up," begin to offer some cohesion of rhythm and lofty accompaniment of the choir in a fashion that recalls Don Davis' The Matrix trilogy. Moments of suspense seemingly resurrect portions of John Williams' Minority Report as well. A passage at about 2:30 into "Spiderbots" suspiciously takes a slow, broad thematic statement right out of the pages of Jones' Dark City, though the more melodramatic renditions of Beltrami's main theme on either side of this sequence are a plus. Even in this and other highlights of the score, the direction of the music shifts erratically, possibly in an attempt to keep up with the CGI effects on screen. Moments of resolve and beauty are lucky to last ten seconds, and the same could be said for the propulsive statements of thrilling action. In general, much of the post-modern symphonic ruckus during the chase sequences seems to emulate The Matrix, though Beltrami has difficulty achieving the same brash instrumental distinctions as Davis. An unquestionable lack of focus is the enemy of I, Robot, perhaps a result of the last minute nature of the composition, though the absence of much passion in the score is more significant problem. Until the redemptive crescendos of resolution in the final two cues on the album, the score aimlessly meanders, dabbles, blasts, and rips. All of this material holds your attention, but the existential conflict that required more emphasis is only muddied by the disjointed thematic performance over the end credits. Perhaps I, Robot suffers from mixing problems that don't allow the electronic and organic elements to mingle intelligently, and perhaps the time frame for the project may have allowed oversights in the writing, performing, recording, or mixing of the work as well. But overall, I, Robot is yet another Beltrami score that promises greatness but lacks the passion, cohesion, or distinctive personality to achieve its top form. Like the film, the score is all procedural action and no intelligent science-fiction. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Marco Beltrami reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.73 (in 22 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 2.79 (in 15,925 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.76 Stars
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   Brass Section (Hollywood Studio Symphony)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 44:09

• 1. Main Titles (1:31)
• 2. Gangs of Chicago (3:13)
• 3. I, Robot Theme (End Credits) (3:15)
• 4. New Arrivals (1:06)
• 5. Tunnel Chase (3:10)
• 6. Sonny's Interrogation (1:27)
• 7. Spooner Spills (4:21)
• 8. Chicago 2035 (1:37)
• 9. Purse Snatcher (1:00)
• 10. Need Some Nanites (2:53)
• 11. 1001 Robots (4:16)
• 12. Dead Robot Walking (5:09)
• 13. Man on the Inside (2:25)
• 14. Spiderbots (4:19)
• 15. Round Up (4:24)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a note from the director and a list of performers in both the orchestra and chorale.

  All artwork and sound clips from I, Robot are Copyright © 2004, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/31/04 and last updated 10/6/11. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2004-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.