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Friday, 30 March 2018

Retro Review: A.I Artificial Intelligence (2001)

A.I Artificial Intelligence 
Cast: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Sam Robards, Frances O' Connor, William Hurt
Genre: Science-Fiction Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $235 million

Plot: A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become ''real'' so that he can regain the love of his human mother

'Mawkish, Manipulative Drivel That Is Pretentious'

Pinnochio meets Bicentennial Man, but without the heart and ballsiness of Anime's Metropolis, which tackled the robotic/cyborg child and human parent relationship far more sufficiently and without reeking in sentimental, drippy nonsense, A.I. Artificial Intelligence is a Spielberg film that whilst it follows various traits found in so many of his previous movies - ET, Hook, Jurassic Park, with this concept it just doesn't work under his flair and style and that it should have remained a Stanley Kubrick project-only. And even if he did die, I don't think Spielberg should have carried on with the project and rather he should have let someone else take it on. A director I had in mind is Luc Besson and come to think of it, I think his take on this movie would probably turn out better than what has been produced here. 

A couple's son goes into a coma and so they purchase a robot boy, as a replacement. Once their human son wakes up, the A.I. named David is disowned by first his mother, then father and David becomes an outcast. He goes to lengths and beyond to become a real human boy so his mother can love him again. Well, that is the main gist of the plot - it's the execution of it that I found bothersome and thus, it wanders into a direction that as it went on, it never warranted the film and one that was virtually redeemable. 

The first 30 mins were, annoying and utterly mawkish; David was being annoying, the mother screams and shouts at David. When David isn't being annoying, he is mute, which I guess one might expect from an emotionless robot. There were some annoying moments with David shoving spinach into his mouth. This is a character I am supposed to root for in this movie, but he came across as being manipulative and needy. I was supposed to feel something for David and sympathise with him - but the way he was portrayed here, it didn't happen. His goal is to get his mother to love him, unconditionally - yet David, himself, never makes grand leaps in character progression, and as such, he never changes for the greater good & never learns the lessons he needs to get by in life. & he still acts and behaves like a robot. He is hollow as a shell, & so really, with David, we never get a sense of who he is supposed to be. 

I did like the teddy character and I felt like he was the only character I took a liking to. Robin Williams voices an Albert Einstein CGI animated - looking character in Dr Know & some computer. & how can someone make a beta version of cybernetic child and not have any data for it? I don't expect lengthy discussions, but at least give me an idea of David's traits, what he does, what he learns. Jude Law's performance as Joe was decent, but he looked like a pimped up, older Astro Boy with the dark hairstyle. After a harrowing and awful first hour, right after David's mother abandons him, his arrival makes A.I. a tad watchable. But then comes the tonal shift, as it turns into a Mad Max - style apocalyptic movie with the good guys being chased by motorcycle villains, who don outfits that look like the ones in Tron. & some other scenes that under, say, Luc Besson's vision, would have made a tad more sense. & once, Joe is written out of the plot, the film goes back to being tepid & saccharine, again. 

The special effects are impressive looking & whilst the tone largely remains family-friendly, the issues and themes here are a world away from those tackled in Spielberg's earlier fare.

The ending was hokey and vomit-inducing and this film was mostly just a bore. It would have been better had David been better off without the parents, especially the mother. With him coming to the realisation that he could survive without her. Sadly, Spielberg takes the rug and rips it underneath the person. & actually to think he had written the script as well -well, surprisingly enough he did, and that in itself, turned out to be abominable. 

This represents as one of the fewest turds of Steven Spielberg - and a director, who I admire a lot and it easily supercedes Hook as one of his failures. I liked it even less than Hook because with A.I., whilst it didn't feel like an atypical movie of his, the tone, the subject matter, the story just didn't suit his brand of filmmaking and he was the wrong fit for it. A.I. is a film with dark themes that the least it deserved is the Spielberg treatment. & it had and made no emotional impact and I could not resonate and connect with any of the characters - although the teddy bear was the only highlight, which is also a first for a Spielberg movie. 


Final Verdict:

Under his watchful eye, any potential and attempts at delving into the harsh realities of being an A.I. child, have been well and truly dashed. Spielberg was clearly out of his depth with the first hour that is one of the worst I have seen in a film, and whilst it takes him out of his comfort zone, it's obvious as I sat through this one again, that this film demands a director, who could project that feel and tone a movie, with a concept as unique & dark as this deserves. And Spielberg is just not that person who could make it happen. 

As a Spielberg fan, he truly disappointed me here and sadly, I have found a movie of his that I dislike. 

A.I. could have and should have been his answer to or version of Rintaro's Metropolis - instead, it is a self-indulgent, schmaltzy film whereby the director mimics Kubrick, - and without much success.  


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