A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) – Steven Spielberg

 

The Sci-Fi Chronicles brings me another Spielberg film to cover that I previously hadn’t for the blog. A.I.

This one proved to be a very divisive film for a lot of viewers, originally planned to be a Stanley Kubrick film a lot of film fans believe that Spielberg over-sentimentalizes it and makes it a little fluffier than it was designed to be, and a number of people seemed to have a problem with the ending.

I think, over the years, I’ve actually grown to appreciate it more. Playing on a bit of a Pinocchio riff, young David (Haley Joel Osment) is a highly advanced robot a mecha, and all he longs for is to be human, to earn the love of his adopted mother, Monica (Frances O’Connor).

Programmed to love, unconditionally, the human he imprints on, David is smart, curious, and doesn’t understand why Monica won’t love him back. But that isn’t his fault, it is the pain Monica carries from her past, a past that returns and causes strife in the household.

When things spiral at home, David is forced to leave with his Teddy (a fantastic piece of animatronic and puppet magic, voiced by Jack Angel) and finds himself on an adventure, joined on the way by a Love Mecha, Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) and encounters the good, the bad, and the terrifying side of humanity along the way.

The production design of Monica and Henry’s (Sam Robards) homeis crisp, clean and almost picture perfect in a clinical way, a look that is eschewed when David encounters the grit and neon of the outside world.

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There is a fairy tale quality to the story, the perceived perfection of the home, family and love, the darkness of the forest where David is left, the unlikely companions, the search for the Blue Fairy, the horrors and obstacles of the flesh fairs and gritty underworld he finds himself in, and a happy ending (of a sort).

The cast includes Brendan Gleeson, Robin Williams, William Hurt, and appearances by Enrico Colantoni, Clark Gregg, and Ben Kingsley, Spielberg, as always, attracts the big names, as much as top of the line effects, and the necessary John Williams score.

Whether too emotional or not, I curled up in this story for the first time in years, and was delighted by how much I enjoyed it, and how it stirred my heart strings. I will admit that I don’t think it’s Spielberg’s strongest sci-fi/fantasy film, but there is a strong theme of love, and the pursuit of dreams at its heart which raises it about some of the other science fiction fare that has come out.

It’s a powerful story, and no matter what you feel about the final part of the story, it still has a message, and as mentioned before, is truly a fairy tale wrapped up in a science fiction story, so how else was the ending supposed to play out?

I won’t lie, I would have been interested to see Kubrick’s take on it, but I’m not sure he would have been able to give it the emotional side that Spielberg seems to be able to do with ease.

It truly was enjoyable to see this one again.

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