A.I. – Artificial Intelligence (2001) – movie review

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Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor, Sam Robards
Director: Steven Spielberg

One of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, A.I. is bound to divide audiences into those who understand it and those who cannot see what the fuss is all about.

Set in the future where food resources cannot cope with the growing world population and government approval is required if a couple want to have children, Professor Hobby (William Hurt) a scientist believes that robots, known as mecha, can be more than just sophisticated work appliances. He wants to build a child robot that would have the ability to love and be loved.

Cybertronics employee Henry Swinton (Sam Robards) and his wife Monica (Frances O’Connor), whose son Martin is cryogenically frozen until a cure for his illness can be found, are chosen to test case David (Haley Joel Osment), the world’s first robotic boy. If they feel comfortable with David, they can adopt him and re-program him to be their own son. Once this is done, they are not allowed to hand him back without Cybertronics dismantling him.


Just when the Swintons are getting used to David, their son Martin (Jake Thomas) recovers from his illness and sees David not as his brother but more like a piece of machinery. Amused by this new plaything, Martin discards his smart teddy bear supertoy, Teddy, who becomes so attached to David that David becomes his guardian. Martin gets David into trouble by giving him tests to perform to prove his love to them. Fearful for their lives, Monica regrettably agrees to return David to Cybertronics for termination. Stopping short of the Cybertronics premises, Monica leaves David and Teddy in the forest to fend for themselves.

David believes that all he has to do is to prove his love by finding his way back to Monica. Coming across a dumping ground of used parts from terminated robots in the forest, David finds a group of discarded service robots scavenging through the dump looking for anything that might be of use to them. All of them are captured by Lord Johnson-Johnson (Brendan Gleeson) who takes them to the Flesh Fair to be destroyed for entertainment in front of a mecha hating crowd. Disgusted that child robots are the new breed of robots, Johnson-Johnson drags David from the cage to be destroyed. David drags another robot with him, Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) but with all the mayhem, they both escape. Taking the story of Pinocchio as his guide to become a real boy, David and Gigolo Joe go in search of the Blue Fairy.

So what happens when you mix a pinch of Kubrick into a pot of Spielberg? A two and a half hour movie that is not going to satisfy everyone, that’s what. The thing here is that Spielberg has successfully penned a screenplay that mixes both directors styles and some of those parts are obvious.

Kubrick had never got around to making this movie as he felt that special effects had not reached the standard required to tell this tale. The CGI work here is so flawless that for once its use as a visual tool is justified and is, in my opinion, the most spectacularly stunning Spielberg movie yet. While there are several underlying themes set out during the movie, you are not really given much time to digest them as the story moves on to a different levels during the two and a half hours running time.

The movie starts with a slow fade in and the Swintons residence has that familiar sterile look which both are reminiscent to 2001. The last segment of the movie is pure Spielberg and is totally out there compared with the rest of the movie. Some people might even find parts of the movie too long. One thing I do feel is that if Kubrick had directed A.I., he would have made it colder and probably more confusing than Spielberg’s attempt. You definitely have to admire Spielberg for pulling off a partially flawed but intelligent movie. Osment is virtually in every scene and performs his part convincing. Stan Winston, who is in charge of the robotic effects for the movie, proves yet again why he is one of the top effects guys in Hollywood.

Funnily enough, for a movie about robots, Teddy the supertoy nearly steals the show.

5 out of 6 stars