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A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) (DVD)
A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) (Soundtrack)

A.I. A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) Review

Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Sam Robards, William Hurt and Robin Williams.

When it comes down to it, this is a great film to have seen so you can take part in the endless debates surrounding it...but the experience of watching it is never so stimulating as the conversations that are bound to twist and turn within your own vicious circle. Part of me, the Spielberg fan that hides inside, wants to praise so much of it. The critical side, my more dominant side, wonders...what happened here? Should the film have ended fifteen minutes before it actually does, or is the prolonged futuristic ending something I should be appreciative and supportive of?

But sit and talk a few days later about the film with some friends and realize that this is the only real foray into intelligent territory that you will have seen all summer and be thankful Spielberg even tries, after all his success, to do something different.

A lot of media attention was splayed over pages and computer screens hyping the odd collaboration between Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg here, and rightly so. However, the end result is neither a Kubrick film or a total Spielberg film but a piece of cinema that weaves wildly back and forth between the light and the dark of these two men. Spielberg may have matured with such films as Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan (what about Empire of the Sun and the Color Purple?) but his touch has never been overly sombre or macabre. Kubrick has never stared at anything without walking away with the most dire of thoughts...the extremes of the reality. It is here these two mind sets collide.

Spielberg can make anything...anything believable...and he can really mimic the nuances of Kubrick while still managing to keep a sense of whimsy or intrigue flowing throughout. Several scenes border on dark, cold Kubrick style, from David (Haley Joel Osment) having a laughing jag in front of his new parents and freaking them out to warmer versions of David and Martin (Jake Thomas) having an eating competition resulting in a mechanical shut down on David's part, his face almost sliding off its frame...possible comedic moment but by this time the audience is so attached to David that it is unnerving to the core.

Many themes are pounced upon and played with here. Parallels to the holocaust. Comparisons to playing god and all the consequences which lie within. the most basic Good Vs. Evil scenarios are given to you on a platter and sometimes in very subtle ways...and while the movie is fascinating the first time out, one must wonder about the ever important rewatchable factor. Such a cold, unforgiving film, is this one I want to put myself through time and time again?

However, I have jumped so far ahead into analysis that I never gave a simplistic overview of the film. We open, thanks to the narrator, on a post-apocalyptic world sometime in the future. In this future global warming has melted the earth's ice caps and the cities now lie flooded with only a few peaking out above the surface. It is a future where space and money can be limited and as such, restrictions are placed on humans. Pregnancy is earned, not a given right and thousands, if not millions of couples long to have children.

Enter Cybertronics Manufacturing and Professor Hobby (William Hurt). Professor Hobby has found the solution. David, an 11 year old boy who looks just like the real thing. As a prototype he is given to a family within the company whose own terminally ill child (Martin) has been cryogenically frozen until a cure can be found.

Frances O'Connor plays the mother and one sees her barriers slowly slip away and finally she allows herself to be imprinted (a process of letting the robot know he is to be bound to the human through 'love') upon David. However, when Martin comes out of his illness David finds himself in competition for the love of his mother. What follows this parallels (intentionally) the story of Pinocchio and so many other fairy tales with an adult edge.

After a series of incidents where David almost kills his brother (an accident but a dangerous one) he is left abandoned by his mother in the woods. If this isn't vicious and heart wrenching enough, there follows a horrific chase of wolves in the dark. David is captured and to be destroyed at a public robot execution. However he passes so close to human that the spectators insists on his freedom. During this time David has met Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) who at this point, about an hour into the film, supplies some much needed comic relief.

Both Jude and Haley Joel deserve more than mere compliments for their work, at the least they should be given Oscar nominations. These are the kind of performances that stick with you, that will be remembered and often imitated for years to come. Jude Law brings such a flippant and carefully nuanced performance one sits cheerfully stunned by the man. With Gigolo Joe the sex-bot, David continues his quest of becoming a real boy and returning to the love of his mother. Don't get me started on the incestuous connotations of that.

Still, when it comes right down to it, intelligence aside, what is missing is the conviction of one persona over another. Spielberg, in remaining true to Kubrick falters here and there and makes some poor pacing decisions he might not have made if this were purely his baby. However, Kubrick's version would undoubtedly have been much darker and perhaps less palatable as well...a tough call and not one we will ever be allowed to make in the end.

For at least trying to be smart in a summer wallowing in stupidity...3 out 5 stars.

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DVD Information:

Special Features:
A fascinating documentary on bringing the vision of A.I. to the screen Interviews with Steven Spielberg, Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law
An in-depth look at the development and creation of the robots of A.I.
A behind-the-scenes visit to Stan Winston Studios with early footage of tests for "Teddy" and other robots
Theatrical Trailers
Storyboard Sequences
Production Drawings
And Much More!

Video: Widescreen 1.85:1 (Anamorphic)

The DVD Review:
Still no Commentary from Spielberg. Why Steven? Why are you doing this to us? We want to know what you think when you make these movies! It's not like we can go out and replicate your magic. If that could be done it would have happened 25 years ago!

Evil Ash

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