|Stanley Kubrick worked on this film for 15 years, then passed the project on to Spielberg. It seems to possess the strangeness and unfortunately the "longwindedness" of Kubrick, and is heavy with Spielbergs touch of sentimentality. But "A.I." does work out some rather questionable topics.
Move to a future when robots are commonplace.
When a couple is faced with the possibility their son may never recover from an illness which has kept him in cryogenics until a cure is found, the father (Sam Robards) brings home a robot. But this robot, David (Haley Joel Osmont) is like no other robot. Inspired to create from his own loss, designer (William Hurt) pushes those to create a robot capable of love, capable of feeling, a child. Can his love be real tho, in the way we think of love?
After his mother Monica (Frances O'Connor) sets this program in place, it is irreversable. If they tire of David or do not want him anymore, he has to be destroyed because his attatchment will never die, thus ensuring a commitment to this lifelong desision.. Not long after Davids acception in the family, their real son becomes cured and returns home. He becomes Jealous of David, doing things to get him in trouble, taking advantage of him.. David feels that his mother no longer has love for him. After an accident occurs nearly drowning their son and he is blamed, Monica struggles with the decision of returning him to be destroyed. But at the last moment, she takes him into the woods where she abandons him tearfully...forcefully. This scene is particularly disturbing..as he pleads and begs for her not to leave him as any child might.. There David's journey begins, inspired by the tale of Pinnochio, he sets out to find the Blue Fairy to make him into a real boy...because he believes that only then will his mother have love for him. This made me think more of "The Velveteen Rabbit". When we love something, doesn't that in itself make it real? How do we define "real"?
The futuristic world is a cross between Blade Runner and Bicentennial Man. It's dark, and yet not. There seems to be alot of uneveness to things, a mixture of almost goofy ideas with gritty subplots. David and his Teddy bear, who has become his companion and is also a robot, meet up with Gigalo Joe, played by Jude Law who gives an intriguing performance as a robot designed to be every woman's fantasy. His movements and features seem so artificial, as if mimicking human behavior in an exaggerated manor. He's fantastic to watch. He accompanies David on his journey, questioning the ideas of being real and man as he wasn't programmed with the capabilities of feeling. Yet in one scene he asks david to tell the ladies of him. "I Am. I was". Which strikes at the heart of things, self awareness alone whether manmade or of nature would seem to entitle any being to life, to freedom if they so desired. Can a machine be capable of more than it is programmed? Can it dream, can it desire? And if so - how does this change our perspective? The film never seems to truly tackle this issue. It wants us to feel compassion for a robot as if it were human, and yet isn't it afer all, just a bunch of parts? What is the fundimental thing that makes something truly unique enough to entitle it to it's own rights and pursuit of happiness? (and is a machine capable of happiness? Is the lack of true feelings the core of why we'll never accept a machine as another life form?) And is there a point when we would have to step back as creator/destroyer?
We still only see robots as a novel idea, something that could never achieve the level of feeling, individuality, introspection as a human could. But does this merely stem from our own fears of playing God, in what could we really create and can we control it?
Inevitably the movie becomes dark, this is where you realize if you brought your 6 year old it's time to leave. We empathize with David's yearning to be human. Our morals and ethics are toyed with, one example is a mob crowd gathered in a sporting-like arena, cheering as robots are doused in acid and broken apart...in a world where people feel robots are taking the place of humans and destroying the very fabric of their society.
Problems with the film are that it's too long, yet it's involving enough that you aren't as tempted to just leave, because you want to see how things turn out. Will David find what he's been looking for? What will he find, and how will it affect him? These answers are given in the end, satisfactory and yet poinently sad. The film leaves more questions at the end however as we discover something strange and fascinating which I will not reveal. And yes, Spielberg has a way of squeezing the tears out of you even when you are reluctant, we want to cry for David because he's just a boy. But then that's just it, he's NOT a boy.
There's alot more substance here than perhaps other attempts LIKE "Bicentennial Man", trying to tackle the modern day story of Pinnochio...and the age old question of love.I only wish it had been darker and not afraid to explore the underlying question of David's alleged "uniqueness"...as too much fantasy wanted to play in. I think that's what contributed to the fact that it felt overwhelmingly confused.
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