|Submitted by Zane W. Olesen |
(Dec 12, 2002)
One of the most anticipated releases of the 2001 summer season Steven Spielberg’s offering “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” arrived without the hype of Bruckheimer/Bay's “Pearl Harbor”. Which makes for an odd opportunity for a movie.
The problem with enormous hype, like that generated for “Pearl Harbor”, there was no chance of it living up to the public’s expectations. As everyone has learned by now, the hype only magnified a travesty visited up the America movie going public.
Now on the other hand the brilliant genius Spielberg took a different approach. Spielberg went to great lengths to keep much of the details to “A.I.” secret. The previews, for a long time revealed very little of what we could expect. And to be honest I was expecting a Spielberg, touchy, feely, ala “E.T.” format.
As most know “A.I.” was originally the late Stanley Kubrick’s project, based on a short story by Brian Aldiss, “Supertoys Last All Summer Long”. Kubrick and Spielberg became good friends, in 1981 when Spielberg began filming of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and was taking over the same London sound stage where Kubrick just finished shooting “The Shining”. Later in their friendship they both agreed to work on the “A.I.” project together, then the unfortunate passing of Kubrick during post-production of “Eyes Wide Shut.” Which left Spielberg to complete Kubrick’s project on his own.
“A.I.” far exceeded my hopes and expectations. This movie was very absorbing and thought provoking, actually even kind of haunting. I know that some people will leave the theatre scratching their heads. But remember this is a Kubrick project and some of his stories and endings can be quite unconventional. I think the Kubrick influence definitely gives “A.I.” a very cerebral feel with a good hint of the bleak and creepy.
The plot in a nutshell is, during the not-to-distant-future, the polar ice caps have melted and mankind has become dependant on the help of “mechas” as in mechanical devices, for survival. Of course some of these mechas have become quite sophisticated. One company Cybertronics, with the prodding of a brilliant scientist, Professor Hobby (William Hurt), proposes the making of a robot child that can actually feel love.
In this future world overpopulation requires that couples apply for permission to have a child because of the worlds limited resources. Professor Hobby argues that creating a child robot, not requiring any resources to maintain, can open up an untapped market. We find out later Professor Hobby’s motivations are a little more personal then professional.
So Cybertronics succeeds in making a robot. The robot is named David, (Haley-Joel Osmet) and in every way he appears to be a real boy, but inside he is a jumble of circuits, sensors, and processors.
An employee, Henry Swinton (Sam Robards) of Cybertronics, through a sophisticated screening process unwittingly qualifies as the test recipient family.
Henry and his wife, Monica (Frances O’Connor) have their own comatose son frozen in a cryogenic chamber until science can discover a cure for his terminal illness. For all intents and purposes their son Martin (Jake Thomas) is dead to them.
Monica still reads to Martin with classical music playing in the background. It is apparent Monica is having emotional problems as she clings to the hope of science discovering a cure. The Swinton’s doctor tells Henry that Martin is beyond reach but Monica can still be saved, as they both look at Monica who’s totally engrossed reading to her cryogenically frozen son.
So Henry surprises Monica and brings home David. Monica has a fit thinking Henry is trying to replace Martin. However the disarming and charming naiveté of David wins Monica over. She lets herself become emotionally attached and decides to execute the secret sequence of words that will activate the love emotion in David which will imprint him to her permanently.
Then a medical break through occurs which enables medical science to revive, Monica and Henry’s, son Martin. This places David in a precarious position, because Martin feels threaten by David. Martin exploits David in order to get rid of him. This succeeds and in a scene of extraordinary acting by Frances O’Connor, Monica abandons David in the wilderness.
David recalls the story of Pinocchio and how the blue fairy turned Pinocchio into a real boy. David reasons if he can find blue fairy and the blue fairy turns him into a real boy then his mother will love him enough to take him back.
So David sets out on a quest. A quest that is disturbing in a number of aspects. I really hope parents do not think that because Haley Joel-Osmet stars in this that “A.I.” is any kind of kid’s movie. It is definitely not. As a matter of fact some scenes were quite haunting for me. And indeed I have thought about them ever since.
In David’s quest he meets Gigolo Joe a pleasure mecha, designed to pleasure women. In probably the equivalent of a cybernetic Mel Gibson, Jude Law plays Gigolo Joe outstandingly.
There are aspects of “A.I.” that I do not want to give away as I think that the meandering story was interesting. It is nice to watch a movie and not be able to guess how it’s going to end. For me that’s a rare experience.
I think that most people like their movies in a nice quantifiable package with a tidy ending. For sure you won’t experience that with “A.I.”. There is a scope to this story that is alarming when it deals with David’s emotional closure, especially considering where humans fit into the scheme of things.
The most interesting aspect about “A.I.” is the many questions posed concerning man’s wisdom in being able to create. You know the “playing God” syndrome. If man can create artificial intelligence that can exhibit human love then should man go ahead and create that artificial intelligence? And more importantly does man have a responsibility to his creations? It is like playing God. As in the beginning when Professor Hobby is making his argument for making a robot that can genuinely exhibit love, he makes the argument “Didn’t God create Adam to love him?” One difference there is God gave man freewill as Eve demonstrated.
Though I thoroughly loved this movie, I realize that this will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Just remember that this has Kurbrick written all over it with an edgier Spielberg style. I will call this a “A thinking man’s movie”. So if you are a strictly an action fan and your tastes lean towards “The Mummy Returns”, “Tomcats”, or “Pearl Harbor” then you may want to pass on “A.I.”. However, if you like being challenged and can brave a gloomy glimpse into a cold future, then prepare to enjoy yourself.
|Submitted by Edwin |
(Aug 21, 2001)
A.I is without a doubt a masterpiece of storytelling, i imagine that some of its sentiment and humanity will not go over well with most none imaginative people, but for us who see the grand merit of this film, we had a worth while 2+ hours in the theatre (which is rare for me) having read the original short story by aldiss, i feel as if someone took that small piece of strangeness and expanded it in a way different than aldiss would have. all in all, this idea of taking a ten pager and making it into a epic is great, but who could do it like spielburg did? kubrick!