Home Arts-Entertainment Movies 'A.I.': A SPIELBRICK TAKE ON MAN AND MACHINE



Aug. 13, 2001 – The ice cap has finally melted. New York, and other coastal metropolises have taken their last breath and sunk. Millions have died, and those who haven't use robots for everything. This is the future world of "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence."
It is an unlikely world created by unlikely collaborators — the late Stanley Kubrick and the vibrantly alive Steven Spielberg.
"In the 1980s Stanley took me into his creative confidence to tell me an absolutely beautiful story that was impossible to forget," Oscar winning writer/director Spielberg, a longtime Kubrick friend, relates. "It was the blend of science and humanity that made me anxious for Stanley to tell it … and that's what made me want to tell it for him after he was gone."
Kubrick died in 1999, shortly after completing the controversial, erotic "Eyes Wide Shut," which received mixed reviews.
"A.I." is about a robot who has a desire to love. A cybertonics scientist, Professor Hobby (William Hurt), is determined to create a robot different from the obedient but unfeeling versions running loose. Eventually, he comes up with David (Haley Joel Osment), a beguiling robot boy eager for the love he is programmed to receive.
David is adopted by a couple of which the wife (Frances O'Connor) herself has a little problem with loving. She makes a stab at loving David, but it doesn't come naturally, and when her real son returns home recovered from a disease with which he had been frozen awaiting a cure, she sets David loose in the wilderness.
There he finds a gigolo robot (Jude Law) who, according to one reviewer, is "for sure more beautiful than any human, a candid and charming machine." The humans hate these robots and round them up in a Flesh Fair, a freaky event where the machines meet their ends. One reviewer claims a Kubrickian joke here: The humans are neurotic, the machines refined and good-natured.
The story is supposedly based on "Pinocchio," but David is given none of the charm of Pinocchio. He is said to be one-dimensional -– so much so that even Osment's performance can't quite carry it off. Pinocchio got into mischief. David doesn't even smash bugs or put cherry bombs in the toilet tank. He just loves his mother and wants her to love him. Osment got an Oscar nomination for his brilliant performance in "Sixth Sense," but the writers for his new role prove too much even for him, according to the critics.
Kathleen Kennedy, the movie's producer and longtime Spielberg associate, summed it up: "Steven wanted to embrace and pay homage to Stanley … the movie has Spielberg's sensibilities all over it, but the subtext is Kubrick." That makes is a must-see for the cineaste and a pretty strong "maybe" for most other filmgoers.
It is rated PG-13 for some sexual content and violent images, and runs for 2 hrs. and 25 mins. It starts Thursday at Market Square East.


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