Saturday, May 15, 2010

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)


Young robot David (Haley Joel Osment), designed to perfectly imitate a human child, must confront various dangers after his "mother," (Frances O'Connor) finds herself torn between him, and her real life son, as the two vie for attention.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence is one of those weird movies that I happen to quite enjoy, despite constantly hearing about how horrible it is (surrounded by one too many Kubrick fanatics). The dynamic between David and his mother, Monica, is a uniquely human tale on the notion belonging through the viewpoint of robots.

It's a captivating film, trapped in a flawed narrative just begging to be opened up. In fact, for me, it's not until Spielberg begins to explore the dynamic of the world, and we meet Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) that things begin to get interesting. The way David deals with abandonment, his quest for acceptance, and the ultimate unveiling reveal a harsh look at what defines a human being. How do we separate ourselves from our creations, and what ultimately becomes our very essence.

Perhaps the greatest weakness in A.I. is that it never takes the time to explore all its realms to the fullest. It gets close, but I always felt it settled for imagery over substance. Don't get me wrong that imagery is quite beautiful, but I couldn't help but want more. The sort of in depth insight you gain in those final moments that really reach into the psyche of the character. David can be a bit one note, and while Joe is fun, and amusing, neither are strong enough to carry the entirety of the film.

Perhaps that's where Spielberg is at his strongest, directorally speaking. Spielberg emerges us in the various aspects of the world, and how they relate to humanity. It creates a sense of reality that one can understand, even relate to, despite its fantasy aspects. The kind of movie I really get behind, no matter the flaws.

While AI is not the masterpiece it could have been, it handles the complicated subject matter well enough to make it memorable, if not completely enjoyable. The kind of science fiction film not built on action and thrills, but rather characters, morality, and the ever present question of what is humanity?

6 better thoughts:

Sasha (The Final Girl Project) said...

What ever happened to HJO?

Simon said...

This movie made me sad, okay? Especially the end. Dammit.

Univarn said...

@Sasha Not too sure. I know way back in 06 he was shooting a basketball film (at my school UNCG) but it never went anywhere. I think he's at the age now where people still remember him as a kid, but he's not quite old enough to be considered a Hollywood adult so he's stuck.

@Simon it was definitely very interesting as endings go. I don't remember being sad so much as feeling as if he finally got what he wanted.

Heather said...

It was a bit on the depressing side, without much optimism to help through the dark and bleakness of it. I had intended on writing my review for 1001 as well, but never got around to it. Very well done movie, but I think you got it right. It was trying to be a masterpiece and fell short.

This Guy Over Here said...

This is a very odd notch in Spielberg's roster of films. I'm glad he decided to make it after Kubrick passed (as opposed to not doing it at all,) but as Spielberg said himself on the special features, "I would've rather seen Kubrick direct it." I thoroughly enjoy it despite its flaws as well. It has enough great ideas and talent behind it to earn its respect.

Ross McG said...

great film, underrated. osment is brilliant in it

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