Artifical Inteligence Review
I was hoping for good things from "A. I." First of all, it’s directed by Steven Spielberg, who almost always delivers a satisfying and/or challenging movie experience. Second, it’s sci-fi, which I like. And, finally, it stars Haley Joel Osment, who performed exceptionally in "The Sixth Sense".
Set in the future when human-looking and human-behaving robots take care of every job you can think of, "A. I." is the story of one doctor’s effort to take robots to the next level. He and his team create a child robot that can "love" its "parents." Osment stars as David, the robot programmed to become attached to his mother in a human-like way. But when David’s parents are finally able to bring their real son home from the hospital, things begin to fall apart.
Picturing himself as a modern-day Pinocchio, David is eventually forced out of his parents’ home and sets out on a quest to become a real boy so he can earn his mother’s love. In an attempt to escape the "Flesh Fairs"—where resentful humans destroy robots in creative and cruel ways—David hooks up with Joe (Jude Law). Joe is a robot programmed to service women as a "male" prostitute. (We get one early scene and lots of dialog about that). Together, they begin looking for the Blue Fairy, the character in "Pinocchio" who changes him from a puppet to a real boy.
Almost everything in "A. I." is well done, technically. The sets, music, camera-work, and acting all hit the mark. Osment again delivers an amazing performance for an actor of any age, let alone 12. He convincingly presents David as both an emotionless robot and, later, an almost-human machine devastated by emotion. He’s just a great actor. Jude Law as the happy-go-lucky Joe and Frances O’Connor as David’s desperate mum also shine.
And for the first hour or so, though slowly paced, the movie seems to be working as a creepy horror story about a robot who only has enough emotion to frustrate himself and everyone around him with his lack of humanity. His "love" for his mum becomes a scary obsession that almost destroys everybody.
But when David sets out into the world with a cool little robot teddy bear as his Toto, the movie begins to lose traction. First, we get the old sci-fi clichй about humans hating the robots they’ve grown to rely on. Things get a little better when David literally meets his maker and realizes exactly what and who he is. (The scene that follows is the creepiest in the whole movie.) But then it becomes clear that the story doesn’t know how to end. It just gets weirder and longer and weirder and longer. And finally it just runs out of gas without ever really paying off.
It seems like the movie wants us to think about what it means to be human. It’s a topic that’s been explored before (and better) with "Star Trek’s" Data and "Voyager’s" holographic doctor and Robin William’s "Bicentennial Man."
In short, "A. I." might be good filmmaking, but it’s not a satisfying movie. And it tries to explore the meaning of being alive without ever acknowledging the Source of life. Rating 4/10
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