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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Widescreen Special Edition)

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Widescreen Special Edition)

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Rating: 4 stars
Summary: Great movie
Review: "A.I." is one of the best films of the year. It's a gutsy, inventive, and visionary Spielberg-ian take on a story by the late Stanley Kubrick. The story begins an uncredited narration that explains to us that greenhouse gases have melted the polar ice caps, thus flooding coastal cities such as Amsterdam, Venice, and New York. And no, this isn't a remake of Waterworld. In this cold future, mankind is busy creating life-like "mechas" that lack only emotion. That is, until Professor Hobby (William Hurt) discovers that by mapping neurological impulses or something to that effect, mechas can be designed and programmed to have feelings. 20 months later, an employee under Hobby brings home David, the first of these feeling mechas (Haley Joel Osment). Yadda yadda yadda, stuff happens, and after hearing "Pinnochio" as a bedtime story, David is left on his own to find the Blue Fairy and become a real boy.

A lot of critics who dismissed this film are very biased, basically putting forth that "A.I." isn't a good movie because it it's neither vintage Spielberg nor vintage Kubrick. I actually found that the Spiel-brick formula makes it more intriguing and compelling. Even when there was an obvious stylistic conflict, the acting (I guarantee Haley Joel Osment will no longer be referred to as "the kid from 'The Sixth Sense'"), the script, and ASTONISHING production kept my eyes glued to the screen. The only other problem with the movie is that it doesn't quite know how where to end. There were three different times the movie could've ended. I found this distracting and it took away from the film's real ending. But despite its forgivable flaws, "A.I." is definitely the must-see movie of the summer.

Rating: 4 stars
Summary: Underrated Futuristic Fairy Tale
Review: The critics didn't seem to like this one and I'm not sure why: it's an updated re-telling of "Pinnochio" and is the fruit of the collaboration between two cinema giants, Kubrick and Spielberg. Both influences are readily apparent and that means there is a lot that's right and wonderful about this film. Perhaps the critics were expecting a massive blockbuster from these two titans, but the truth is, in a way, it's really a "small" film- not a combination of "Star Wars" and "2001" as the critics may have drooled for.
Under the glossy surface it's the simple story of a boy searching for his mother's love. Sure he's an android and it's set in a nightmarish hi-tek world but in the end it's just a magical fairy tale. As a movie it works on lot of levels- all the ingredients are there: Haley Joel Osment's amazing performance (actually, all the performances are quite good), amazing sets, costumes, special effects and a haunting score by John Wlliams. There are striking imaginative touches throughout this film and in virtually every production aspect.
Some argue that the movie should have ended at an earlier point than it does (to say more would be to give something away-you'll know what I mean when you see it) and true, it would probably have been a satisfying if deeply poignant way to end the film, but it would have deprived us of Speilberg's fascinating coda and the emotional release that we all secretly (or not so secretly) wish for throughout the film. Is it a little too precious an ending? Maybe, but remember it's *just* a fairy tale. A thought provoking fairy tale, yes but to see it as trying to be much more than that does a disservice to this fine film and to Speilberg, Kubrick and "Pinnochio" as well. I really didn't expect to like "A.I." based on the reviews but I enjoyed it very much and I think you will too.

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: AI - a masterpeice
Review: From what I've seen, people have a love-hate relationship with this movie. Some people hate it and say it was the biggest waste of time they ever sat through. Others say it was almost a spiritual experience. I am among those who absolutely loved the movie. I almost say it was the best movie I've ever seen. The pure emotional and spiritual power behind the movie, culminating in the unbeleiveable ending left me in tears, and I'm a dude. I don't cry at movies. But I didn't cry because it was sad - I cried because the movie moves you in a way you don't yet understand. I recomend this movie to anyone and everyone.

Rating: 1 stars
Summary: A Truly Hateful Experience...
Review: More than likely, if you believe in some concept of God (whether it involves Allah, Jesus, Buddah, or Cosmic Muffin), and you are trying to maintain some measure of hope, then "AI" probably is not for you.

AI is not about what may or may not take place in the future, because the question of whether or not human beings can create life itself is rather supercilious. Instead, much of what takes place in AI is more in the realm of fantasy, because the story itself is based on physical implausibility.

For example, the human characters in the story look, act and behave pretty much like human beings do in the twenty-first century. In the event that human beings were ever able to create high-functioning entities from inanimate matter in the complexity this film describes at great length, then they would cease to resemble human beings. By that time, the human race would have evolved into some form that would make all of us look like neanderthals.

AI is not sceince fiction, anymore than "High Noon" was a western. AI is a morality play, pure and simple. The message has more to do with the acceptance of artificial intelligence as a gateway to Godlike empowerment, sans spirituality. The future of the world as portrayed in AI is immoral, without feeling, without compassion. It is heartless, cold, and if you get the message behind AI, we're all headed that way.

In the future, those quiet, Sunday picnics with your kids in the back yard will be lost and gone forever, because on the next lot over are a man and woman who like to get dressed up in leather and get into some great S and M action with you and your wife. You won't even think about your kids, because they'll be entertained at an amusement park filled with freaks and geeks as characters in fantasy games.

Instantaneous travel to anywhere on earth will be available to all citizens; Plans to make everything from methampetamine to bombs made from fertilizer and fuel oil will be sold by vending machines; Devil worship will become obsolete because the concept of spirituality will be dead; Violent, pornographic images will become contemporary art that can be purchased at discount stores.

But none of this will matter anyway, because by that time, all human beings will understand that the pursuit of Artificial Intelligence, not love or procreation, not the human pursuits of art, literature, or music and certainly not metaphysics, is the reason that the human race must continue to exist.

I thought that this film was truly a hateful experience.

Rating: 4 stars
Summary: Almost great but...
Review: A few things you need to know before you even consider seeing this movie:

1) It's long, 2 1/2 hours.
2) It's got 2 directors, essentially: Steven Spielberg and the late Stanley Kubrick.
3) It's PG-13. Don't let the trailers fool you into thinking it's light fare.
4) It's VERY high-minded fantasy, at least for awhile.

This film is loaded with incredible stuff, but with just as many problems as rewards. It's a story set in the future, when great parts of the world have been submerged due to global warming and the remaining parts are technologically advanced utopias or wasteful burgs. In the midst of this, mankind has enacted laws to limit the number of children people can have, so a robotics company creates a prototype 'bot of a child, in hopes of creating a machine that can be taught to love.

This prototype is offered to a couple who's son is in a coma, with interesting things happening between the mother and the "boy", but problems arise when the real son comes out of the coma and the mother is forced to rid her house of the 'bot (without letting him be destroyed). David (Haley Joe Osment, the 'bot boy) begins a search for The Blue Fairy, a mythological figure in Pinocchio he heard about in a bedtime tale that he hopes can turn him into a real live boy so that he can go back to live with the family he has come to love.
Throw in a robot prostitute, a spookily-animated teddy bear and a fair in which robots are mangled for the amusement of humans, and things start to get really dark really quick, but this is good. It's good edge to an otherwise fantastical tale that's easy to mess up if left to its own devices.

However, I'm totally torn on this flick. On one hand, I find it absolutely amazing, especially the parts of the story and scenery that obviously come from Stanley Kubrick's original screenplay notes and ideas. Unfortunately, Spielberg puts his "Aww Shucks" touches on it to soften some of the otherwise poignant and creepy blows that Kubrick intended, and we are left with a film with multiple personality disorder in some passages. I can live with this since the acting is SO incredibly good, the effects astounding, and the writing strong, if not terribly consistent, but it hurts to know when a film's gone too far and missed the chance to not only be good, but great.

My biggest issue with this film comes from the fact that this flick is easily 30 minutes too long. There' s at least a half dozen places after the first 2 hours when the film could have been stopped and been a poignant classic instead of something that Spielberg doesn't seem able to wind down. Kubrick has ALWAYS had problems with his endings ("The Shining", "A Clockwork Orange", "2001" and a host of otherwise good films up until the last 5 minutes or so), but this one takes the cake, and I'm not sure who to blame. I think some of the ideas in the end were obviously Kubrick's (see it and you'll know too, but I don't want to spoil it...them...whatever), but some of the ending(s) were decidedly pumped up by Spielberg's need to give us happy endings. Kubrick was not weighted down with this flaw. The story you got from Kubrick was the story there was, happy or sad. Even his happy endings were a bit morbid. Trust Spielberg to put 100 watt bulbs in 60 watt fixtures.

My suggestion: watch it and walk out of the theater (or stop the video) when David is on top of the building. When you see it (and I think you should, depsite the problems with it), you'll know what I mean. At that point, had the film been stopped, it would have been a masterpiece. Leave the rest of it for future fast-forwarding or something. TRUST me on this.

Rating: 4 stars
Summary: TEDDY WANTED!!!
Review: This collaboration between Stephen Spielberg and the late Stanley Kubrick must be one of the more eagerly anticipated movies of recent years. It brings together the vision of two cinematic geniuses; Kubrick, a Director intent on examining the human psyche and Speilberg, a master of modern American cinema, who instinctively seems to know what his audience wants. Apparently good friends until Kubrick's death a couple of years back, this was a project they had been discussing filming for the previous ten years but is it any good? And has Spielberg succeeded in blending the seemingly poles apart vision of Kubrick with his own cinematic style? The answer is mostly yes and partly no.

AI is a sentimental romantic sci-fi odyssey and it's also one of the saddest films in years. In an overpopulated world where the polar ice caps have melted, births are rationed to one per couple. When parents Monica and Henry Swinton's (Frances O'Connor & Sam Robards) son is apparently lost in an endless coma they are selected for the 'adoption' of David (Hayley Joel Osment) an experimental 'mecha' (robot) child. Initially David's prospective mother is freaked out by the idea but whilst still grieving for her apparently lost son, she soon becomes attached to David and takes the option of permanently encoding his circuits so that he will forever be tied to his mother. Everything seems to be going swimmingly only for the son Martin (Jake Thomas) to unexpectedly awake from his coma, which leads to David becoming a victim of his new brother's cruelty, his parents fears and now surplus to their requirements. Dumped into the wilderness with his super-toy Teddy, he goes on the run with Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) a robo-rent-boy also on the lam after being framed for the hotel-room murder of one of his clients. David begins a Pinocchio type voyage of discovery in the hope of becoming a real boy and being reunited with his mother.

Personally, I thought this was an excellent film and I have been quite shocked and surprised at some of the very harshly critical reviews I've read in the UK's broadsheet newspapers. A.I. may not perfect by any means but I found it to be an extremely thought provoking, moving and in turns incredibly beautiful and incredibly sad film. Whilst visually very much a Spielberg movie both visually (comparisons can be drawn in style to both Close Encounters and ET) and narratively (he unusually takes a screenplay credit), the Kubrick influences are clearly in evidence in the somewhat cold and sterile beginning and the intellectualised Pinocchio themed (what is the essence of humanity) backdrop of the movie. It's a movie about love that is at times in a very Kubrickian manner, cold to the touch.
The CGI in this movie is nothing short of excellent and must have had ILM working overtime. Among the robots or 'mechas' on show here are men and women with seamless half faces, eyeless sockets and heads that split open to show the androids inner workings. Also one of the most exciting and best things about the movie was Teddy, who was not just David's friend but also formed the true moral centre of the film. The effects were tremendous and if ever they can really invent such a toy, everybody will want one. Contrary to one review I read about the child acting being "some of the sickliest ever filmed" I think that Hayley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) was once again superb and I do not believe I have ever seen a more talented child actor. I'm also a big fan of Jude Law but one of my few criticisms of the film would have to be aimed at his character Gigolo Joe. Whilst I don't feel that there was anything wrong with Jude's acting, I did find Gigolo Joe at times irritating, such as when he tweaks his head to create his own supposedly romantic (but in actuality mood killing) music soundtrack. It could also be argued that much of Spielberg's vision of the future was contradictory and dated with three wheeled cars, overpopulated cities, a drowned New York but leafy countrysides but to be honest that is probably nit-picking.

It would also be fair to say that A.I. has an overlong ending, with a bit of a tagged on feel, which is a little too saccharine sweet (a Spielberg weakness). However, coming so soon after September 11th the final sequence set in a future New York city flooded by melted ice-caps, with the Manhattan skyline reduced to bungalows in the sea and the Statue of Liberty's hand poking up through the waves was incredibly pertinent, incredibly moving and incredibly surreal. It was almost as if Spielberg had somehow foreseen some incredible tragedy and this was his portrayal of Manhattan in a vale of tears.

Whilst not Spielberg's best work, it's certainly not that far off and maybe if Kubrick had been around to oversee production we would have had a masterpiece. Although, what Spielberg has given us is a movie which is disturbing, perplexing and incredibly sad. If you're not moved then you haven't got a heart.

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: The Genius of ManKind?
Review: Like most of Steven Spielberg's Movies, they are educational, very entertaining and well worth watching. Nice cinematics and a good cast.

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: It's OK to dislike a good movie...
Review: Let's just say that AI is not the type of film that will entertain you. Provoke you, yes. Get you to think, absolutely. But not entertain. This isn't good old American escapism, it explores our human emotions deep down to its core. At the same time, it is a beautiful movie, with striking images and an amazing vision of the future, with a tight script and outstanding acting (why nobody from this film got an Oscar nom, I don't understand). It combines Kubrick's love of the bizarre with old-school Spielberg sappiness, and somehow manages to pull it all off.

The story follows the life of a robot child named David, the first robot made to love. The First Act of the film shows David introduced to his human family, and all the strange conflicts of love, jealiousy, and even repulsion that occur. These scenes are utterly chilling and creepy while being strangely sweet, and they play on our emotions just as easily as David's programmed whispers of "I love you, mommy" confuse the emotionally precarious mother. In a scene that belongs in film history, the mother finally abandons David in the woods, and he clings to the car screaming as she drives away.

In the Second Act, David joins with Gigilo Joe, and a robotic teddy bear to embark an quest, sort of like a twisted sci-fi vision of the Wizard of Oz. The Third Act catapults us 2000 years into the future, when super-robots discover David in a block of ice. While this future is beautiful and fun to explore, these story sequences aren't nearly as interesting as the first third of the film, and yet there are many many interesting throw-away shots and min-stories which can hold your attention. Spielberg consistantly blurs the difference between humans and robots, and when new characters are introduced the audience is left wondering "is its real?" for more than a few seconds. The acting performances are consistantly brilliant. Not a single bad actor in the film, to be truthful. Jude Law is unfortgetable, and Haley Osment is so good he puts adult actors to shame.

Many have said this movie is both brillant and flawed, and I can agree. There is simply too much to digest the first time you see it. Also, the pacing of the movie is all wrong, and some of the greatest climaxes come early in the film. All this makes for an excellent DVD, though! Now you can simply watch the moments that you feel like, and not sit through the entire saga.

THE DVD - is okay, but not great. Spielberg does not give audio commentaries for his movies, which is a tremendous crime for filmmakers now and in the future. The "making of" documentaries are numerous and detailed, but with a film this complex, I discovered that they simply do not tell us enough. The audio and visual quality of the DVD is excellent.

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: The year's best movie so far...
Review: A.I. is the latest offering from Steven Spielberg, and it is without a doubt one of his best. There are few directors able to offer huge blockbuster movies that actually have artistic value and are truly worth the price of admission; Spielberg is undoubtedly the master of this, as he proves with yet another box office smash that is intelligent, thought-provoking and beautiful from start to finish.

The film portrays a dystopian future where robots have been perfected that are indistinguishable from humans. The focus is on a child robot, the first one to be created, and his wish to become real. The heart of the story is basically a modern version of Pinnochio, which is heavily acknowledged in the film itself, although it goes beyond that. Many, many shades deeper than your average popcorn entertainment, A.I. will leave you thinking about it for days, whether you love it or hate it. And it's one of those films that is impossible to appreciate in one sitting; I imagine there would still be fresh layers and themes to understand even beyond the fourth viewing.

The lead actors give masterful performances; Haley Joel Osment has given fine performances before, but here he simply blows you away with the depth of his performance; one sincerely hopes we will get another collaboration between him and Spielberg in the future. Jude Law works great as a gigolo robot, and in Spielberg tradition the other main roles are filled by less 'showy' names but still work perfectly.

One of the first things you may notice is that the robots (or "mecha" as they are referred to in the film) don't blink the entire way through the film, which warrants an extra level of respect for the actors in those roles as that must have been tough. Look very carefully though and you will see one slip-up by Haley Joel Osment...

The effects are truly superb the entire way through the film, and not once are they overly showy or pretentious. The 'supertoy' teddy, while a great effect and much needed comic relief, was obviously thrown in to appease the kids, who will probably not enjoy this one too much since the whole film is very dark and deep. I heard one kid as I left the theater saying: "that ..., I thought it was gonna be like the Terminator".

This film isn't perfect, however. Occasionally you feel slightly manipulated, and there are some forgivable plot contrivances. There is one thing I found totally unforgivable though, and that is the science behind the film. You see, these robots seem to have no power source. Imagine how much power it would take to run a fully functioning human robot... A lot. Consider that the huge battery in a laptop computer will be dead after about 6 hours. The robots in this film never need to recharge, refuel or do anything because they can simply run forever magically. They can run in sunlight, without sunlight, underwater, and at any temperature, and not a single second in the film was devoted to explaining this. While this may be forgivable in a film that is pure fanstasy, in A.I. is it not because A.I. is a film rooted in its realism, in the fact that this is all possible someday, maybe even probable. If you can muster the enormous amount of suspension of disbelief required to get past this fact, then it won't be a problem, but for those with scientific backgrounds this may prove a big turn-off. Duracell missed a huge product placement opportunity there...

Running at 140+ minutes, A.I. is probably just slightly longer than it needed to be. The ending (which is great, but truly depressing and not very believable) comes out of nowhere and is more like an epilogue.

John William's musical score is superb; it fits the film perfectly yet not once does it become distracting. It's really the icing on the cake, and what sweet icing it is.

No matter what your views on the subject matter of the film are, it's truly worth seeing, if only for the great conversations it will spark. Some will find it depressing to the point it upsets them, but for the rest of us who 'get it', it will prove to be a rewarding experience, and a film you need to see at least twice to appreciate. A great piece of work, provided you can see through the minor annoyances to the heart of the film.

Rating: 5 stars
Summary: Wonderous Special Effects - And a Dark Tale
Review: Finally got around seeing this science fiction film that posits a world of man...and machine.

Although the film goes on longer than it had to, this Spielberg/Kubrick effort is simply wonderous in its tale of how an uneasy humanity confronts ever-increasingly human-like robots. Throughout the film one can sense the approach-avoidance emotions that the actors have with the machines that take over more and more of our lives. The machines clean our houses, make our products, and even satisfy our more elementary needs. And, perhaps, they begin to do all of this too well. Could it be that humans have manufactured their own replacements? And that unease only deepens when mechanical children enter the picture. Can one love a robot? Can one love back?

The plot has been relayed in depth here, so I won't repeat it, but suffice it to say that the plot is solid, makes sense in the confines of the film, and doesn't strike too many false notes. I did think the film was going to end several times before it finally did.

This is a good film to buy, because one's appreciation of the film will only deepen upon repeated viewings.

And I can't say enough about the special effects, nor Jude Law's performance. It's frightening and heart-warming at the same time. And Haley Joel Osment is as good here as in 'The Sixth Sense'; the perfectly lovable, er, robot.

Highly recommended.

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