This review is almost entirely a spoiler. If you don’t want to read the spoilers only read the parts between the lines. There I just gave my impressions. Regardless, if you haven’t seen the film then this little write up will waste less of your time and you don’t have to pay for it.


I had the pleasure of going to see A.I. on Friday afternoon with Zot-Fot-Piq.

For starters, I expected this movie to be bad- hell, I’d laughed at the trailer- but I went into it with a “what the hell” attitude. Who knew, I might like it.

When the movie was over he turned to me and said he was very impressed that I managed to keep my sarcastic mouth shut. I told him that he owed me big time for making me watch that … “movie”. I hated this movie.

Later, my best analogy was:

Someone had left a computer on for a log time, no one could understand what it said or meant, and they rushed around, trying to understand how to make it happy. After much study and expense, many, many years of research and pain, frustration and tears they finally deciphered the message - “please insert disk into drive a:

That was what AI meant to me - go ahead, read the spoilers, this movie is just terrible.


The move is set-up in three acts and each transition is so drastic that you’re left with the following questions:

  1. Are you watching the same movie?
  2. Did they hire different writers for each act?

  3. c) Are the reels being played in the wrong order?

The opening of the film describes a depressingly preachy tale of global warming and starvation. I got past the preaching and decided to start out being rather interested in Act 1. It seemed to move well, brought up some great, interesting questions, and almost seemed like one of the old robot stories by Asimov- after reading the inspiration for it I could see why I got that initial impression.

It followed the main character, David, a robot created in order for families to have more than one child, as the current limit on children was one per family.

David was a special kind of robot. He could feel love and had the desire to be loved - apparently his primary motivation - this desire to be loved became the impetus for the rest of the film.

A test family takes him in on a trial basis - but the mother, currently grieving over a child in cryogenic freeze due to a fatal virus infection, makes the test permanent by activating an irrevocable imprint procedure. After the procedure it is impossible to reprogram him. If the family decided it didn’t want him anymore he would have to be destroyed - apparently they had forgotten how to recycle. Oddly enough the creators of this film have never heard of fdisk. Worse, they had forgotten a scene from the beginning of the movie where they removed a robot’s brain- in a procedure taking less than thirty seconds - could they not just replace the brain and recycle the 3x3x3 cube - or just hit the delete key?

Predictably a ‘cure’ is discovered and the frozen kid comes home causing all sorts of chaos and bitterness. The awakened son sets up Act 2 by having the mother read the story of Pinocchio.

After a series of errors and tricks the decision is made to remove David from the house. The mother, horribly distraught by the thought of destroying David, does the most humane thing she can imagine - leaves him to fend for himself in the middle of the woods with only a few bucks and his walking, talking teddy bear. This was actually one of the more emotional scenes of the film and shows that Haley Joel Osment can actually play a crying child. I almost liked him and the movie at that point. Don’t get me wrong, the kid can act - I just find him incredibly irritating, especially when he whispers.

I quickly dismissed my rise in mood as the movie “progressed” into act 2. The beginning of which was the first real indication that Spielberg had no fucking clue about what kind of movie he wanted to make. It shifted from sentimental to horrific to Disney to just plain stupid.

The introduction of Jude Law’s superfluous character at the beginning of the act was so abrupt and stylistically different that I thought some asshole had spliced in lost footage from “Blade Runner”. Jude law is a fine actor and, granted, he did very well for what he could of that character, but his character was out of place in this movie. It served only as a catalyst to propel David from place to place in the simplest terms possible. They relied on him as some kind of “Scarecrow” guide ala Wizard of Oz rather than write a believable storyline that would draw the main character along or give Law’s character any more than a brief varnish of plot. The interaction between Jude Law’s robotic gigolo character and David was contrived and convenient. He stumbled aimlessly through - just as Spielberg stumbled through scene after scene of the film.

What shot my sense of disbelief in the head was a motorcycle scene that was reminiscent of Joel Schumacher’s “Batman & Robin”. Any time a director puts fake, backlit animal heads on the front of motorcycles they should just be shot. No questions, no trial, no appeals. Bang - goodbye Spielberg. For you future directors out there - don’t EVER DO THIS! I’m personally writing congress to enact this law.

Spielberg had no idea what to make of Kubrik’s film - it was sad, like watching him try to remake another “Hook” from the bloody ashes of “A Clockwork Orange”. During one scene, where an angry mob cheers a carnival where robots are dismembered and destroyed as spectacle (that should have been horrific), he decided it would be great to throw in the voice of Chris Rock as one of the ill-fated robots. This amazingly bad decision muddled the scene so badly that most of the people in the theater were too confused to react at all. I would compare it to taking the little girl in the red jacket from Schindler’s List and giving her the voice of Chris Rock. Maybe if they’d used Bullwinkle as the voiceover for Ben Kingsley: “Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a nazi out of my hat!

Eventually Jude Law, “David” and the robotic bear (“Teddy”) travel to “Rouge City” which is basically a mock-up of the animated set from “Cool World”. I half expected to hear the voice of Kim Basinger. Once again the movie doesn’t know what it wants to be - other than a skewed version of Pinocchio. It occasionally strays into the realm of a Disney family flick shortly before Jude Law projects a nude dancer on a guy’s crotch. Act 2 is so chock full of references to Pinocchio (even a fucking Jiminy Cricket character in the small robot Bear who becomes his conscience) that by the end of this movie I not only hate A.I. but I hate Pinocchio.

But face it, in this day and age, the robot/Pinocchio story has been done over and over again - wasn’t that the whole basis for the character of Data in Star Trek:TNG?

In “Rouge City” they seek the advice of Dr. Know, some kind of computerized coin-operated oracle voiced by Robin Williams. They are seeking the “Blue Fairy” from the story of Pinocchio. Once again the whole movie lurches uncomfortably into Disney territory and fails miserably. They are told to go to Manhattan, now submerged, where David can become a “real boy” to gain the love of his “mother”.

The entire Act was so bad that I didn’t even give him credit for some surprisingly interesting effects for some of the robotic characters and the sets - they were impressive. I’d think, hey, that looks pretty neat and then they’d start speaking and whole scene was blown and I was biting my tongue to stop myself from either laughing or making a comment. Act 2 was a long tedious road down to nothing. When I started rooting for them to dump acid on the kid - or hoping they would find his “off” switch - I realized I would hate this movie for a long, long time.

They arrive at the ocean flooded Manhattan only to find the preposterous Act3, David’s creator, and a ridiculous ending.

I’m going to rush through this part because it will sound like I’m making this up - but I’m not.

David finds lots of duplicates of him, gets upset and demolishes one. He gets depressed and jumps in the ocean where he’s caught up in a school of fish that take him to Coney Island where he sees a Pinocchio exhibit and the elusive “blue fairy” from the story. He’s rescued by Jude Law and taken to the surface. Once there, the police immediately capture Jude Law and David escapes in a submarine type transport (Kind of like being swallowed by a whale). He rides back to Coney Island at bottom of the sea and sits praying to a statue of the Blue fairy to somehow make him a “real boy”. Meanwhile, due to his reckless driving, the Ferris wheel (somehow still intact after being underwater so many years) falls on top of the submarine and David is trapped inside the sub… for 2000 years (going through another ice age). Super robots (the only remnants of human life on the planet - and resembling tall versions of the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind) eventually dig him up out of the ice and reactivate him. They scan his memory and decide since he’s the last remaining bit of humanity left they want to make him happy and they clone the woman who imprinted him from some of her hair. However, she has a one day expiration date. She and David spend one perfect, happy day together. At the end of the day they hold hands and walk up the stairs towards the bedroom. The weird, Oedipal overtones just creeped me out and I almost laughed out loud. They both lie in bed. She dies and he’s shut off (finally happy).

Rimrod’s statement "What the hell is THIS?!" is so appropriate I had to repeat it in my w/u.

I’m just stunned that no other critic I’ve read has panned it, as it deserves to be panned. This movie is a laughing stock and should be treated as such. Watch it win an Oscar. If you go see it, go to ridicule it.

Without giving anything away, here's a reference to another one of Spielberg's works to try to explain what the ending of A.I. is like:

Imagine that we're at the very end of Saving Private Ryan.  The old man is standing by the grave, asking his wife if he's led a good life.  We fade out to the American flag...and then fade back in.  German tanks roll over the hillside, laying down mortar fire at the old man and his family!  Tombstones are blown apart!  Everyone runs for cover!  Then, some dinosaurs come running onto the scene and start eating people!  



That's what the ending of A.I. is like.  Haley Joel Osment is SUPERB--he deserves a medal, a monument, and a cookie for his acting; Jude Law is damn good too.  But, the last 30 minutes of the movie are completely trivial and actually serve to detract from the story.  Everyone's reaction in the theater I saw it in was pretty much, "What the hell is THIS?!"  You can definitely see where Stanley Kubrick wanted to end the movie, and everything after that point is pure Steven Spielberg gotta-leave-the-audience-with-a-feel-good-ending tripe.

Oh, and I could have lived without the cute teddy bear pervading every scene in the movie. And one more thing: HOW THE HELL DID HER HAIR SURVIVE INSIDE A TEDDY BEAR'S POCKET FOR 2000 YEARS WITHOUT DISINTEGRATING?

God, Spielberg is such an easy target. He’s pandered to our lowest common sensibilities for so long—practically inventing the idea of the action film that encapsulates the zeitgeist, making it a must-see event—that we somehow doubt that the man can have an interesting idea in his head.

His latest film A.I. Artificial Intelligence proves that he can and he does. His singular crime this time around is editorial. The movie is just too damn long, particularly in the middle, the most overtly "special effects" section. But chock full of ideas A.I. is, as befits the honest, mature attempt of the world’s most successful filmmaker to bring to life the unrealized passion of one of the world’s greatest filmmakers. The difference between Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick, indeed, could be said to be the real subject of this film.

No need for spoilers here. The idea of Spielberg attempting to realize Kubrick’s decades-in-the-planning evolutionary fable is reason enough to spend your money. Whether he succeeds completely is irrelevant. None among us can know exactly what Kubrick had in mind this time around. How he was going to realize what he alone saw in his mind’s eye is obviously impossible to ascertain. And likewise none among us should deny that Spielberg can fill a movie theatre and satisfy an audience. Whether you’d like to go home with the audience and, over a good brandy or a cup of tea, discuss the movie you’ve all just seen is also irrelevant.

There’s no accounting for some peoples’ taste.

Food for thought:

We talk a lot on this website about E2 being greater than the sum of its parts. We speculate upon the idea that our database might some day become sentient, that it could learn to learn, to categorize, to grow into the perfectly distilled image of our myriad separate ideas of what the future will be like. Would E2 in the future exist without editors and gods?

What is love?

Stanley Kubrick asked the question frequently throughout his distinguished career. It might be argued that each of his films, at its core, concerned itself with this existential conundrum.

Steven Spielberg has given us his answer to that question. It is up to each of us to consider, maturely and honestly, what it is we feel in our own hearts. We owe both filmmakers—and ourselves—nothing less.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence is not a film for the cynic or the biological chauvinist who insists that man will inherit the universe.

We build our machines in the manner in which we ourselves are built. And if we cannot love our Creator, and if we give our Creator every reason not to love us, well, then, the question comes to mind:

What’s the point?

On Hollywood and filmmaking:

Below the Line

sex drugs and divorce

a little life, interrupted
  1. Hecho en Mejico
  2. Entrances
  3. Sam's Song
  4. Hemingway and Fortuna
  5. Hummingbird on the Left
  6. The Long and Drunken Afternoon
  7. Safe in the Lap of the Gods
  8. Quetzal Birds in Love
  9. Angela in Paradise
  10. And the machine ran backwards

a secondhand coffin
how to act
Right. Me and Herman Melville
Scylla and Charybdis Approximately
snowflakes and nylon

I could've kissed Orson Welles
the broken dreams of Orson Welles
the last time I saw Orson Welles
The Other Side of the Wind

Below the Line
completion bond
Film Editing
Film Editor
Final Cut Pro
forced development
HD Video
king of the queens
Kubrick polishes a turd
movies from space
Persistence of Vision
Sven Nykvist
Wilford Brimley

21 Grams
Andrei Rublyov
Apocalypse Now Redux
Ivan's Childhood
The Jazz Singer
The Sacrifice
We Were Soldiers
Wild Strawberries

A few quick, non-spoiler clarifications for those bothered by this movie:

  • They're not aliens, they're highly evolved robots. That's not entirely clear in the movie, but knowing it makes all the difference.
  • David dies as the movie closes. And, of course, it's only possible to die if you're actually human.

Thanks, Slashdot.

Warning! Spoilers ahead! I give away the end of AI, don't read the following if you don't want to know!

Last warning! Spoilers ahead!!!

The basic concept of AI (at least the parts that really got to me) is that man has created artificial intelligence in robots called "mecas", right down to exact human response to stimulus, etc. Well, pregnancies are strictly regulated and must be licensed, etc. So, to fill this human need for children, a meca that looks like a child is created. This meca has a code that locks the meca into loving the adopted 'parents' with a complete, unchanging, never-ending love. The meca-child that the story follows is David, who is given to Monica and Henry. Monica and Henry have a biological son, Martin, who is in cryogenic stasis because of a deadly illness. Monica eventually decides to bond to David, and he starts seeing her as "Mommy" instead of Monica. Eventually, Martin gets cured and comes home. He is jealous of David and keeps trying to get him in trouble. It works, and Henry eventually decides that David needs to go back to the company that made him, so he can be destroyed. (Once a meca-child bonds to a human, the bond can't be broken, and the child has to be destroyed if the human doesn't want him anymore.) Monica can't bear to know he's going to be destroyed, so she takes him out in the woods to leave him there alone.

This is where I start going hysterical.

David is crying, pleading with Monica to please not leave him alone. He's sorry that he cut her hair, he's sorry that he broke himself by trying to eat spinach, he loves her, please Mommy, don't leave him alone. She tells him to stay away from humans, that only other mecas are safe and she runs away.

A big long search ensues for David, as he remembers the story of Pinocchio that he heard Monica reading to Martin one night, and that the Blue Fairy made Pinocchio into a real boy. David decides that if he can find the Blue Fairy, she'll make him into a real boy, and then Mommy will love him. This leads him into the company of Gigolo Joe (Whadda ya know). They are both in a "Flesh Fair" - a place for "orgas" (that is, organic humans, as opposed to mecas) to destroy mecas for fun. The mecas are pulled apart a la the rack, acid dumped onto of them, shot out of a cannon, through a ring of fire, and through a propeller, etc. This is to me a hideous reminder of the holocaust, and the current states of racial cleansing around the globe. This is the second place I start going hysterical, this time also with nausea and thoughts of "I can't watch this, I'm going to go wait in the lobby."

Anyhow, David and Joe end up escaping the Flesh Fair and get to a city where David can find out where the Blue Fairy lives. He's told she lives at the end of the world. Well, at this point, the ice caps have melted, leaving large sections of the world underwater. Including New York. Manhattan is now the end of the world, and is mostly underwater.

David finds his way to Manhattan and finds the man who created him there. He goes deep underwater and finds Coney Island, and the statue of the Blue Fairy. He starts praying to her, "Please Blue Fairy, make me a real boy." For 2000 years, David prays that she make him a real boy. Another ice age comes and everything is frozen again. Some 4-inch wide aliens show up, and dig David out. He touches the Blue Fairy and she crumbles. The aliens read all of David's memories, and recreate the house where he lived with Monica. He runs through the house and can't find anyone, even though it looks just as it always did. The aliens tell him that they want him happy, and can bring back people from his time period, if they have some physical part of the person. David still has some of Monica's hair and the aliens say they can bring her back, but there's a catch.

It can be for ONLY one day. Everyone they bring back dies after they fall asleep at the end of their first day. David says that he doesn't care, bring her back anyway.

David and Monica have the perfect day together, with no worries in Monica's mind and no problems to distract them.

At the end of the day, Monica is falling asleep and she hugs David and whispers, "I love you, David. I've always loved you." David starts crying; this is all he has ever wanted. To know that Mommy loves him. That was the purpose of his entire search for the Blue Fairy - he only wanted Mommy to love him. And now, he knows that she does.

By this point, I am in complete hysterics , and trying vainly to keep myself quiet so I don't disturb the other people watching the movie.

I spent the next couple of hours in hysterical tears. As soon as I got home, I woke Mom up and hugged her and told her that I love her. I told her about the movie, and she just held me and rubbed my back like she did when I was 8 and scared by a bad dream.

Wretched, wretched movie.

A couple of innocent remarks on the film A.I. to start with:

I am discussing issues raised by the plot of A.I. from here onwards so if you have not seen it you may not understand. Anyway, this is a SPOILER.

I agree to most of the criticism expressed here. However, some points have not been made:
For instance, that the whole film is filled with challenging ideas but explores none fully. In that respect, this film should have either lasted 30 minutes only or been split in 9 separate movies. I won't go through each and every inconsistency either. I will just say that it is strange that "Dr Know" is dumb enough to believe that if you raise your voice at the end of a sentence it makes it a question although mecas do not seem to have any difficulty to tell the difference... At one point during the flesh fair mecas are described as not being able to plead for their life because of their lack of emotion. So why can we see them fleeing in an earlier scene in order to escape capture?

But this is not my point.

This film disturbed me during the first part because it looked so much like a frightening outlook of our consumerist culture.

For a start, David scared the hell out of me before he was "imprinted" but that is what we should expect from robots. The problem is the reason this robot is there for. "He" is there to give affection, love, to fulfil a biological need. Never ill, never mischievous, always the same age, no teenager rebellion.
The whole psychological implication is huge. Your child is ill, you miss him, do you replace him by a "toy for adult" to satisfy your need for affection? The point is not addressed in the film (as many many others, sadly) but it is considering children, love and affection as a convenience. A product, a social status marker that can be bought and sold, which has a quality, a limited warranty attached even. I assume that Monica went to the hospital each and every day before the delivery of David. And after David's arrival? It is not said. It is as if adults in those days couldn't cope with life and accept what befalls on them.
It's like all those children and teenagers in the U.S.A. who are on medication because of an alleged syndrome. They are on drugs for their parent's convenience. Or those 5 years old I saw here in England who are harnessed like dogs and trailed in the same way.
That makes me mad and very afraid. This is definitely NOT the future I want.

I know, this is just a film.

However, the final scene made me cry, this perfect day between David and his mum. The first time while watching a movie since I was 8. That was just one day, never to be repeated, but he wanted to spend it anyway. It made me remember of my own perfect day with this special person, not so long ago in august, never to be repeated because of my immaturity and foolishness. Even now, as I write this, I can feel the lump in my throat.

  In case you wondered, A.I. was released in Great Britain only a couple of weeks ago.

This is with regards to the film by Steven Speilberg, just to clarify.

Many of the current reviews of A.I. spring mainly from the dichotomy between the film styles of Speilberg and Stanley Kubrik. Which are certainly there, but if you go into this movie looking for style, you're really missing the point.

The story which inspired the movie was a short by Brian Aldiss. The movie obviously plays out of the same mentality as Isaac Asimov's robot stories (if you haven't read these, do so, they're brilliant...and instructional).

There are a number of clear and obvious themes going on in the movie which are very necessary to think about.

From here on out, there's likely to be spoilage occuring, so if you haven't seen the movie yet, don't read on from here.

First off, the movie happens from the point of view of the robots. And these are robots who are programmed by humanity to do very specific things, and serve very definite purposes.

In an age where available land cover is very small, and humanity is fairly shrunken in population and birth is regulated, robots are used to fill in the gaps...whether for administration, labor, sex, entertainment, or what have you.

The main character of the film, David, is a robot created to look almost perfectly like a little boy, and programed to serve and to love his mother.

Not, mind you, to be particularly good at anything, or particularly interested in anything...aside from loving his mother.

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Love is never truly defined in the movie. William Hurt's character seems to believe that it's a total state of focus and devotion, something of an extreme nature that should drive the lover to do extreme things to retain the love of the lovee.

There are a lot of complaints going around about how you can't get into David's head, you can't really get at his motivations, you really don't know what he's thinking. But that's nonsense, you know exactly what he's thinking...what he was programmed to think. He loves his mother, and he'll do anything to retain that love. Including crossing the world to find the blue faerie and be made real.

David cannot discern the difference between fiction and reality. He is willing to take any data which supports his focus - loving his parent - and make use of it in his quest. Even when he is told point-blank by his supporters that what he is chasing does not exist.

William Hurt's character would seem to define this as a dream, a passion, that he is following...but it is obviously, instead, an obsession...a directive. He is carrying out his programming.

A.I. focuses a great deal on the nature of the robots, of the awareness created in them of the world around them and what it was about...the hatred of the robots, even as they helped...when Joe's one lover was killed, and he ran, it was because unlikely as it was that he would kill a human, nobody was going to believe his word over a human's.

Our actual greatest viewpoint on the nature of the robots and their awareness was through Teddy, who was profoundly more aware of what was going on than David, or perhaps, at times, than even Joe. Teddy had been used and then put away...and then brought out again to accompany another robot, who though much more advanced, was somehow even more limited in function than himself. And so he becomes forced, in some manner, to become the parent, the conscience. David's Jimmy the Cricket, if you will.

It is even partially arguable, regarding the nature of the film and it's many changes of perspective, that some or all of the film is actually being related to us by the A.I.'s in man's future, who are telling it to other A.I.'s, to try to make them understand the nature of the vanished creators. The A.I.'s of the far future do not truly understand humans...but perhaps relate to them far better than they could ever imagine. They're concerned with where they come from, the nature of their creators, their intentions...they even model human form, roughly. They're still carrying out their programming...

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