"Let he who is without SIM, cast the first stone."
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Review by Ross Anthony

Oceans have risen to swallow cities. Land and resources are scarce, hence pregnancies must be licensed. But technology has advanced to fill the void of a truncated family - why not purchase a bouncing baby robot?

The film begins slowly, tediously. The very first prototype MECHA (mechanical boy) that can love (and perchance, dream) steps into the home of a loving couple with a comatose child. The A.I. Artificial IntelligenceMECHA is programmed to love, but will he be loved back? Will the fragile mother abandon him? Should the real son awaken ... will the love/jealousy catalyze violence? Certainly, the atonal music predicts tragedy.

This segment, a good 30 minutes or more, plays heavy, an unbecoming thriller - nothing to pull us in, nothing to hook our emotions. A scene where the mother "imprints" Haley (the robot) should have set our lower lips trembling, but falls short. Undoubtedly this segment was written and possibly shot much longer, but cut to its bare essentials to make way for the "real movie" to follow. Thankfully, we aren't delayed too long, but the cuts do make the segment even less relevant.

Haley, separated from the family unit, must fend for himself in a world where the flesh (humans) enjoy trashing the MECHA's for philosophic/sadistic purposes. Enter Jude Law, robot lover (for the lonely human) extraordinnaire, "Once you've had a MECHA, you'll never want a real man again." He tilts his head sharply, music appears as if from an old Victrola or drive-in theater speaker. Jude Law simply sparkles; he takes this B- movie and sets it spinning. Of course, the spectacular artistic design of "Rouge city" (not terribly unlike "Moulin Rouge's" Paris) also dazzles. Haley begins his quest back to house, home, and the love of mom. Jude pairs up.

Spielberg "imprints" himself all over this film. From the "Close Encounters" homage (in the visual and the audio) to an over the top (excuse the expression) mechanized moon, to the very title "A.I." (Need I remind ..."E.T."?) When given the choice of solid story-telling or big impressive visual - Steven chooses the latter every time. Therefore, expect a bumpy ride. Btw, some visuals work fantastically, but there are those that don't. (Year 2000 motorcycles with dragonheads? A year 2015 electric car in this distant future film?)

An odd blending of "Moulin Rouge" and "Bicentennial Man" (Robin William's voice cameos), Jude Law, Haley, and the Teddy Bear deliver wonderful performances across a backdrop of futuristic fantasy. It bumps and thumps a bit, more simulated than real, but in the end "A.I." just barely pulls down an "A-." Still worth seeing.

  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Brendan Gleeson, William Hurt.
  • Directed by Steven Spielberg.
  • Screenplay by Steven Spielberg based on a screen story by Ian Watson, based on a short story by Brian Aldiss.
  • Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg and Bonnie Curtis at Dreamworks/WB.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:21:05 PDT