He's collared outer-space aliens and Miami thugs in summers past. So what subclass does Will Smith, king of July box office, whup the ass of this time? Robots. He's Del Spooner, a Chicago detective circa 2035, and he likes to get medieval on mechanical men. (Exactly why is a key mystery, so beware fanboy spoilers before the opening date.) Investigating an apparent human suicide at a vast robot-making facility, Spooner teams with a psychologist (The Recruit's Bridget Moynahan) who prefers A.I. types to people. If this sounds like it only partly resembles Isaac Asimov's seminal, identically titled sci-fi story collection (published back in 1950), it's not your memory chips failing. ''It's very much inspired by the stories as opposed to a direct translation,'' says Alex Proyas, the Australian auteur who gave such a creepy look to The Crow and Dark City. ''I feel we stayed true to the spirit of Asimov. I just hope everyone else agrees with me.'' So do Fox execs. They're rumored to be spending more than $100 million, much of it allocated to CG robots created with data from body-suited actors a la Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films. ''Gollum is a pretty cartoony character,'' says Proyas. ''I hope ours will be a step beyond that in terms of reality.''