View Date: June 29th, 2001


Haley Joel Osment David Swinton
Jude Law Gigolo Joe
Frances O'Connor Monica Swinton
Sam Robards Henry Swinton
Jake Thomas Martin Swinton
Brendan Gleeson Lord Johnson
William Hurt Professor Hobby
Jack Angel Teddy (voice)

Written by: Ian Watson (screen story) Brian Aldiss (original story and Steven Spielberg (screenplay)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg 

Official Site: A.I Movie

Related Viewings:

Bicentennial Man (1999)
D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)
Blade Runner (1982)

Also see my reviews at:

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A.I. Artificial Intelligence

*Warning: Potential spoilers contained, proceed at your own risk*

There are some required viewings (listed to the left), which should be seen to truly appreciate, cherish and notice the wonders, and slight flaws of A.I.  Each was a contributing factor, along with the obvious story parallel to Pinocchio, and will greatly enhance and define the movie experience.  Prior to my viewing, there was a curiosity that abounded in my mind.  What would happen when two of the greatest, yet most diverse, visionaries in directing had their ideas melded together into a futuristic and surreal fairy tale?  Well, the result is that Kubrick’s touches are barely visible while Spielberg’s universal family appeal touches come out in what becomes little more than a modern fairy tale with a heart. 

This trilogy of tales begins with a vivid description of the world in the possibly very near future  The Swinton’s have just lost a child, sort of, and adopt Osment from the factory where the father works.  Part one is their bonding, which is powerful and magical showcasing Osment at his innocent best.  Parts two and three are a journey, the purpose of which I leave for the film to reveal, but as with any Spielberg film, it is going to involve a character discovering something about themselves, whether by choice or not. Whether it was Dreyfuss’s obsession with UFO’s, Christian Bale’s discovery of his true inner strength in Empire of The Sun, or even the revelations of the platoon in Saving Private Ryan, his movies show that we as humans are always seeking to find out more about ourselves and the curiosity is as natural a human emotion as love. 

I shall leave the remainder of the films plot for digestion and revelation, to be fair to the vision of masters Spielberg and Kubrick.  The film works in parts, but the overall effect is slightly draining, While easy on the eyes, it never really comes to any great conclusions or messages.  The title suggests that it’s a movie about artificial intelligence, but that part of the subject matter is barely touched upon and in the end, forsaken for a story about artificial emotions trying to manifest into reality.  The films touches on trying to fit the wants of others and attempting to find what matters most in life.  The comparisons to Wizard of Oz are not so subtle, with a trek that includes meeting some unique characters, including Law in a movie stealing performance as a cyber hustler, and a realistic teddy bear that becomes David’s conscience.  Throughout the trip though, the emotions and message become diluted and result in a confusing conclusion that mixes touches of Close Encounters and The Abyss in an attempt to touch the heart and soul.  In pieces, these may have been three entertaining short films, linked by a common character.  Together, they are a choppy, stylistic retelling of a young boys search for love and acceptance. 

This is Osment’s first truly starring role, as he appears in nearly every frame of the film, and if he didn’t do an acceptable job, the film would truly fall apart. While he doesn’t show near the power of his Sixth Sense role, he does show again that he has the emotional range to carry a film and keep the audience watching, interested, and believing.  The true shining star here though here is Law, once again in a scene stealing performance as the cyber lover and companion, Gigolo Joe.  Law has a cocky, confidant swagger, along with a really neat head flinch trick, that fits this role to a tee.  This part was obviously Kubrick’s contribution, and Stanley is at least applauding this aspect of the movie, as Law nails it, and maybe if everyone remembers, another nomination. 

Ultimately, A.I. is flashy, yet mildly empty conglomeration of the search for love and acceptance amidst societal hurdles.  It is delicious confusion, yet poignant social commentary all wrapped in a flashy surreal futuristic package. The movie is definitely more Spielberg than Kubrick, with Stanley’s touches very prevalent in an odd middle sequence akin to the WWF or even Road Warrior. It’s dark, intriguing, odd and a little uncomfortable, but at least we relate with the characters emotions and reaction, as we do in nearly most of the first two sequences.  The third seems too forced and contrived, taking an already acceptable conclusion and trying to make us think, delve and dwell a little more, usually not a bad thing, but here, it is a tad too much. Spielberg creates a glossy vision, and then tries at the end to delve into Kubrick’s realm of the deep exploration and meaning of feelings.  Unfortunately, his touch is too soft and the conclusion drags down what was an already confusing, but beautiful endeavor.  There is no denying the power of A.I., but it comes out in flashes and bits, rather than carrying through the entire film.  Kubrick’s darker touches are obvious, such as Law’s character and residence in the town of Rouge, and one scene in a laboratory involving Osment and William Hurt.  Save that though, Stanley may not be too proud of what Mr. Spielberg has done with one of his pet projects.  Kubrick was the ultimate perfectionist, having his hands in every piece of a film, and I have to believe that he would see this version as too soft, too confusing and trying too hard.  Nice try Stephen, but David’s search for love results in a lush visceral movie experience that slightly lacks the guts to try something different.  After all, it is Haley, it is Jude, it’s a little bit Kubrick, and a lot of Spielberg, and thus it should be seen but taken with my grains of salt before digestion. ($$$ out of $$$$$)

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