David is 11 years old.
He weighs 60 pounds. He is 4 feet, 6 inches tall. He has brown hair. His
love is real. But he is not.
A.I. can be divided into 3 parts. The first part is the mecha boy David with his new human family. The second part has David on
a quest to become a real boy so that his mother will love him, and the
third part I will call "Enter the Space Monkey." This film is at times
kick ass and then at other times shit.
I think one of the major issues I have with A.I. is the interpretation
of what David is. The film wants you to believe that David is a creation
of man that can love. Not only are we to believe that David loves but
that he loves more unconditionally and better than his creator. My view
of David is that he is program... nothing more nothing less. He is a
very complicated program but in the end he does not waver from his
programming. I didn't think David was sentient or that he could pass the
Turing test. I thought the solution to the whole film would be to turn
him off and recycle him.
That aside I thought some of the ideas were kick ass and some of the
visuals were over the top and fantastic to watch. Also I liked many of A.I.'s other ideas beside the central theme of David's love.
Through the first two parts of the film I was thinking that this was
going to be a film that had some real problems with but I still gave a
positive review to, but then I got to "Enter the Space Monkey," and that
idea was shot to hell. If you can't tell I really didn't like the last
part of this film and so as to stay away from spoilers I will refrain
from anymore comment on it.
In regards to the acting, Jude Law as Gigolo Joe is top's on my list for
Best Supporting actor for 2001. He is absolutely fantastic. Also Haley
Joel Osment is great as the robo boy David. I wouldn't be surprised at
another Oscar nomination for him, this time for best actor. He is a powerhouse actor.
This is one of those films that I will probably see again just to see if
I like it later on and I might find I like it better in a different
frame of mind, but I doubt it. This film just has too many flaws to
overcome for me really enjoy the good parts.
Allow me a brief diversion.
Q: What do the following films have in common: Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A
Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Jaws,
Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List, Amistad and Saving Private
A: None of them were written by Steven Spielberg.
Yet, at the age of fifty-five, auteur director Spielberg went ahead and
wrote his first "real" screenplay. It's redundantly titled "A.I.
Artificial Intelligence." That's kind of like Sly Stallone making a film
called "P.O.W. Prisoner of War." And, just like the stupid title, A.I.
Artificial Intelligence hammers home its theme with unnecessary narration
from unwelcome characters in a film that could have been absolutely
I call A.I. Artificial Intelligence Spielberg's first "real" screenplay. That's not entirely true. The Internet Movie Database acknowledges him as
a writer of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (along with four uncredited
writers). The IMDB also gives Spielberg a screenplay nod for 1982's
Poltergeist (directed by Tobe Hooper). I'm sure Steve is proud of that
A.I. started as a Stanley Kubrick project. The fact is that the late Kubrick wanted to film a short story by Brian Aldiss (the origin for A.I.)
that sat on the shelf for years. Much of the pre-production was already
completed. Kubrick decided to push forward with Eyes Wide Shut instead
(another pet project). But, if you watch the end credits of A.I.
Artificial Intelligence, Spielberg is the only person mentioned as a
Spielberg was a huge fan of Kubrick and flew to England to talk about A.I.
with Kubrick. Together, they collaborated on the movie. At some point,
Spielberg rewrote a large portion of Kubrick's film. Much of the rewrite
is reported to be in A.I.'s tiresome final act.
And, the third act is absolutely horrible. It's not just horrible; it's
long. SPOILER WARNING: The length of the denouement didn't bother me. I
had already invested two hours of my life in this movie. I just couldn't
believe that Spielberg concluded A.I. with aliens leftover from Close
Encounters and E.T. Just as a writer should avoid adding too many
characters in the beginning of a film; a writer should generally avoid
introducing new characters at the end of a film. I'm left to believe that
the crappy looking CGI space monkeys were contrived by Spielberg to wrap
up the plot. The space monkeys have no real identity.
And that's not the worst of it. SPOILER WARNING: The space monkeys, aren't
really space monkeys after all. Even though they resemble Spielberg's
creations from his previous sci-fi pictures, and they fly into the movie
in what looks like a "spaceship," these creatures are actually advanced
androids. This is inexplicably confusing. I saw A.I. with two intelligent
friends and we all thought they were aliens. I had to read other critics
(particularly Roger Ebert) to find out we were wrong. I enjoy
"complicated" plots. However, there is no excuse for a "confusing" plot.
And, let's examine that plot. A.I.'s promotional tag line pretty much sums
up the movie: "His love is real, but he is not." Haley Joel Osment plays
an android named David. He's programmed to love his mother Monica (Frances
O'Connor). Events unfold, and Monica is forced to either send David
packing, or have him destroyed. She chooses the former.
In a film that can be broken into three parts, A.I.'s first act is the
strongest. The bond between Monica and David is powerful stuff. Their
relationship is the emotional foundation of A.I. For David, life without
his mother is meaningless. He has a single reason for existing: to love
Monica. David believes that Monica doesn't reciprocate because he's a
Then Spielberg makes a mistake. He turns David's story into Pinocchio's
story. Spielberg doesn't even try to hide it. David's quest is to find the
blue fairy so she can turn him into a real boy.
The second act introduces a new character named Gigolo Joe (Jude Law). If
David is naive, Joe is world-wise. He's also on the lam, but he sincerely
seems to want to help David. Maybe its because he's programmed to please.
The middle third of A.I. teaches us that life in the future is far worse
for androids than we suspected in the first act. A lot of humans don't
like "mechas" (as they are called). Homeless mechas are hunted down by
swarthy businessmen who annihilate the androids in all sorts of crude
manners in front of a howling live audience. These scenes reminded me of
the WWF. I'm not worried about the feelings of WWF fans, because wrastlin'
fans wouldn't have read this far.
The chase scene in A.I. is like something from a different movie.
Motorcycle bad guys drive red and blue neon bikes with jaws on the front
that shoot stun beams at the frantic mechas. This is easily the worst
action scene I can ever remember from a Spielberg film. The villains look
like something out of Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Running Man. I don't
mean that as a compliment. During the WWF scene we experience our first
extraneous cameo. Chris Rock voices one of the unfortunate androids
slotted for mutilation. He has maybe two lines, but his voice is so
distinctive that all I could think about was, "hey that's Chris Rock." Later, Robin William's voice is identifiable with a hologram. Both these
celebrity "bonus characters" were more distracting than anything else.
And the third act? Don't get me started. Still, A.I. Artificial
Intelligence is such an amazing technical marvel; it's impossible to
dismiss it entirely. Spielberg had the privilege of directing three
amazing actors (and creating a fourth). Osment is better here than in The
Sixth Sense. That's high praise. It is a flawless, Oscar caliber
performance. As David's mother, O'Connor is equally riveting. Jude Law
gives his best performance to date as the unique Gigolo Joe.
And there is a fourth character worth mentioning. He's a super-toy named
Teddy. He's David's loyal companion. He can talk and reason. And, he tries
to help out as best he can. I suppose he's a combination of CGI and
animatronics. Like most of the special effects in A.I., Teddy looks great.
A.I is often astonishing. I appreciated so much of the film, that I was
let down by the parts that didn't live up to the whole. And, in all
fairness, A.I. may be the best two star film I've ever seen. If that
sounds compromised, then maybe you haven't seen the movie.