This review is almost entirely a spoiler. If you dont want to read
the spoilers only read the parts between the lines. There I just gave my impressions.
Regardless, if you havent seen the film then this little write up will waste
less of your time and you dont have to pay for it.
I had the pleasure of going to see A.I. on Friday afternoon with Zot-Fot-Piq.
For starters, I expected this movie to be bad- hell, Id laughed at the
trailer- but I went into it with a what the hell attitude. Who knew,
I might like it.
When the movie was over he turned to me and said he was very impressed that
I managed to keep my sarcastic mouth shut. I told him that he owed me big
time for making me watch that
movie. I hated this movie.
Later, my best analogy was:
Someone had left a computer on for a log time, no one could understand what
it said or meant, and they rushed around, trying to understand how to make it
happy. After much study and expense, many, many years of research and pain,
frustration and tears they finally deciphered the message - please insert
disk into drive a:
That was what AI meant to me - go ahead, read the spoilers, this movie is
The move is set-up in three acts and each transition is so drastic that youre
left with the following questions:
- Are you watching the same movie?
- Did they hire different writers for each act?
- c) Are the reels being played in the wrong order?
The opening of the film describes a depressingly preachy tale of global warming
and starvation. I got past the preaching and decided to start out being rather
interested in Act 1. It seemed to move well, brought up some great, interesting
questions, and almost seemed like one of the old robot stories by Asimov-
after reading the inspiration for it I could see why I got that initial impression.
It followed the main character, David, a robot created in order for families
to have more than one child, as the current limit on children was one per family.
David was a special kind of robot. He could feel love and had the desire
to be loved - apparently his primary motivation - this desire to be loved became
the impetus for the rest of the film.
A test family takes him in on a trial basis - but the mother, currently grieving
over a child in cryogenic freeze due to a fatal virus infection, makes the
test permanent by activating an irrevocable imprint procedure. After the procedure
it is impossible to reprogram him. If the family decided it didnt want
him anymore he would have to be destroyed - apparently they had forgotten how
to recycle. Oddly enough the creators of this film have never heard of fdisk.
Worse, they had forgotten a scene from the beginning of the movie where they
removed a robots brain- in a procedure taking less than thirty seconds
- could they not just replace the brain and recycle the 3x3x3 cube - or just
hit the delete key?
Predictably a cure is discovered and the frozen kid comes home
causing all sorts of chaos and bitterness. The awakened son sets up Act 2 by
having the mother read the story of Pinocchio.
After a series of errors and tricks the decision is made to remove David from
the house. The mother, horribly distraught by the thought of destroying David,
does the most humane thing she can imagine - leaves him to fend for himself
in the middle of the woods with only a few bucks and his walking, talking teddy
bear. This was actually one of the more emotional scenes of the film and shows
that Haley Joel Osment can actually play a crying child. I almost liked him
and the movie at that point. Dont get me wrong, the kid can act - I just
find him incredibly irritating, especially when he whispers.
I quickly dismissed my rise in mood as the movie progressed
into act 2. The beginning of which was the first real indication that Spielberg
had no fucking clue about what kind of movie he wanted to make. It shifted from
sentimental to horrific to Disney to just plain stupid.
The introduction of Jude Laws superfluous character at the beginning
of the act was so abrupt and stylistically different that I thought some asshole
had spliced in lost footage from Blade Runner. Jude law is a fine
actor and, granted, he did very well for what he could of that character, but
his character was out of place in this movie. It served only as a catalyst
to propel David from place to place in the simplest terms possible. They relied
on him as some kind of Scarecrow guide ala Wizard
of Oz rather than write a believable storyline that would draw the main character
along or give Laws character any more than a brief varnish of plot. The
interaction between Jude Laws robotic gigolo character and David was contrived
and convenient. He stumbled aimlessly through - just as Spielberg stumbled through
scene after scene of the film.
What shot my sense of disbelief in the head was a motorcycle scene that was
reminiscent of Joel Schumachers Batman & Robin. Any
time a director puts fake, backlit animal heads on the front of motorcycles
they should just be shot. No questions, no trial, no appeals. Bang - goodbye
Spielberg. For you future directors out there - dont EVER DO THIS! Im
personally writing congress to enact this law.
Spielberg had no idea what to make of Kubriks film
- it was sad, like watching him try to remake another Hook from
the bloody ashes of A Clockwork Orange. During one scene, where
an angry mob cheers a carnival where robots are dismembered and destroyed as
spectacle (that should have been horrific), he decided it would be great to
throw in the voice of Chris Rock as one of the ill-fated robots. This amazingly
bad decision muddled the scene so badly that most of the people in the theater
were too confused to react at all. I would compare it to taking the little girl
in the red jacket from Schindlers List and giving her the voice of Chris
Rock. Maybe if theyd used Bullwinkle as the voiceover for Ben Kingsley:
Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a nazi out of my hat!
Eventually Jude Law, David and the robotic bear (Teddy)
travel to Rouge City which is basically a mock-up of the animated
set from Cool World. I half expected to hear the voice of Kim
Basinger. Once again the movie doesnt know what it wants to be - other
than a skewed version of Pinocchio. It occasionally strays into the realm
of a Disney family flick shortly before Jude Law projects a nude dancer
on a guys crotch. Act 2 is so chock full of references to Pinocchio
(even a fucking Jiminy Cricket character in the small robot Bear who becomes
his conscience) that by the end of this movie I not only hate A.I. but I hate
But face it, in this day and age, the robot/Pinocchio story has been done
over and over again - wasnt that the whole basis for the character of
Data in Star Trek:TNG?
In Rouge City they seek the advice of Dr. Know, some kind of computerized
coin-operated oracle voiced by Robin Williams. They are seeking the Blue
Fairy from the story of Pinocchio. Once again the whole movie lurches
uncomfortably into Disney territory and fails miserably. They are told to go
to Manhattan, now submerged, where David can become a real boy to
gain the love of his mother.
The entire Act was so bad that I didnt even give him credit for some
surprisingly interesting effects for some of the robotic characters and the
sets - they were impressive. Id think, hey, that looks pretty neat and
then theyd start speaking and whole scene was blown and I was biting my
tongue to stop myself from either laughing or making a comment. Act 2 was a
long tedious road down to nothing. When I started rooting for them to dump
acid on the kid - or hoping they would find his off switch -
I realized I would hate this movie for a long, long time.
They arrive at the ocean flooded Manhattan only to find the preposterous
Act3, Davids creator, and a ridiculous ending.
Im going to rush through this part because it will sound like Im
making this up - but Im not.
David finds lots of duplicates of him, gets upset and demolishes one. He gets
depressed and jumps in the ocean where hes caught up in a school of fish
that take him to Coney Island where he sees a Pinocchio exhibit and the
elusive blue fairy from the story. Hes rescued by Jude Law
and taken to the surface. Once there, the police immediately capture Jude
Law and David escapes in a submarine type transport (Kind of like being swallowed
by a whale). He rides back to Coney Island at bottom of the sea and sits praying
to a statue of the Blue fairy to somehow make him a real boy. Meanwhile,
due to his reckless driving, the Ferris wheel (somehow still intact after
being underwater so many years) falls on top of the submarine and David is trapped
inside the sub
for 2000 years (going through another ice age). Super robots
(the only remnants of human life on the planet - and resembling tall versions
of the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind) eventually dig him up
out of the ice and reactivate him. They scan his memory and decide since hes
the last remaining bit of humanity left they want to make him happy and they
clone the woman who imprinted him from some of her hair. However, she has
a one day expiration date. She and David spend one perfect, happy day together.
At the end of the day they hold hands and walk up the stairs towards the bedroom.
The weird, Oedipal overtones just creeped me out and I almost laughed out
loud. They both lie in bed. She dies and hes shut off (finally happy).
Rimrods statement "What the hell is THIS?!" is so appropriate
I had to repeat it in my w/u.
Im just stunned that no other critic Ive read has panned it, as
it deserves to be panned. This movie is a laughing stock and should be treated
as such. Watch it win an Oscar. If you go see it, go to ridicule it.