Saturday 13 January 2024

Movie Review: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Genre: Science Fiction  
Director: Steven Spielberg  
Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, William Hurt  
Running Time: 146 minutes  

Synopsis: In a future ravaged by climate change, human-like robots are common. At a robotics corporation, Professor Allen Hobby (William Hurt) leads the development of a child-like robot capable of expressing love. The first such model is David (Haley Joel Osment), and he is delivered to couple Monica and Henry (Frances O'Connor and Sam Robards), whose own human child Martin is in a medical coma. But after David and Monica bond, Martin miraculously recovers, leading to jealousy and a tense household. Monica has to make a difficult decision, resulting in a wild adventure for David featuring gigolo robot Joe (Jude Law).

What Works Well: Haley Joel Osment's performance is passable, Jude Law brings quirky energy, and some of the special effects (especially in a future, damaged New York City) are imaginative. Teddy the robot bear is cute, and often the best thing on the screen.

What Does Not Work As Well: This is a a depressingly whiney and Frankensteinish mishmash of Pinocchio, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The trite message is that humans are less than perfect and everyone wants to be loved, but the frequent perspective and tonal changes yield hollow emotions. Steven Spielberg (adopting a project nurtured by Stanley Kubrick) lands in a vacuum of faux-profundity too complicated for kids and bizarre plotting too ridiculous for adults. The first act is weak, featuring a supposedly advanced robot unaware it's not supposed to eat nor harm humans. The middle portion is worse, veering into the gloomy territory of seedy gigolos and a dark robot destruction festival. The final, endless act is a catastrophic shambles requiring the abrupt insertion of a narrator in a desperate attempt to salvage comprehension. An underwater episode is followed by a massive time jump and the inexplicable appearance of alien-like beings, all to set-up a climax where...a blue fairy takes over. 

Conclusion: An epic fiasco.

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