A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Could an intelligent robot love? How would it? Could a human love it back? In creating surrogate love-objects, do we mirror our relationship with God? With memorable, exciting footage, A.I. stirs thought-provoking questions about our inner workings -- even our reasons for living -- in a haunted, jarring, but semi-familiar, unspecified future. (But a first caution: It takes 2-&-1/2 hours.)
For most of that future era's people, robots, or "A.I.," are mere "mechas" (mechanisms) -- simple devices that can't think or feel. But that's not how Professor Hobby (Hurt) sees them. He and his laboratory build an intelligent, sensitive prototype, David (Osment), and loan him to a family whose terminally-ill son Martin (Thomas) is cryogenically frozen. Martin's devastated mother Monica (O'Connor) bonds with David, whose improved hardwiring lets him love her, too.
But Martin goes home when a cure is suddenly found, and his sibling rivalry and a series of accidents force Monica to face facts: David can't stay. Returning him would guarantee his destruction -- the laboratory will dismantle him -- so she abandons him in the woods.
There the movies' fairy-tale themes begin. Hearing "Pinocchio," David wants to become a real boy and return to Monica. He begins an obsessive search for The Blue Fairy in a dangerous world of mecha-haters -- people who blast robots as sport. David's quest is lightened by Joe, a gigolo robot (Law), welcome comic relief.
Osment is amazing: unblinking as he ceaselessly studies his surroundings, his devotion to Monica is just right: half-manufactured, half-genuine. In a scene when he's almost beserk, the viewer's skin will crawl.
Creakily slow at times, and with an ending only sci-fi fans can love, "A.I." makes family viewing difficult. Adults will be bored by what children love -- not by David but by the overused fairy theme. And Gigolo Joe is NOT for children, nor are scenes set in Sin City, with X-rated public structures: entryways into buildings shaped like a woman's crotch, phallic statues, and a plainly-risqué bridge into the city. In another questionable scene, David breaks down from eating spinach. Couldn't such an expensive, humanoid eat, or imitate eating? And why vilify a vegetable? Yet the movie redeems itself. Just when it seems ready to end bleakly, a wonderful spin sends it into an intriguing new direction.
Stanley Kubrick, Stephen Spielburg
Steven Spielberg and Ian Watson; inspired by Isaac Asimov.
Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Brendan Gleeson, William Hurt, Jake Thomas.
Robots, mecha, A.I., artifical intelligence, emotional
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