Movie Review – “A.I.”

A.I. was Kubrick’s final project, which
was completed by Steven Spielberg. My opinions on
this film can be found in the usual place.

Premise

In the future, the ice caps have melted, and strict
population
control is in effect. Robots have been developed to
fulfill the needs
of mankind. For the first time, a robot with feelings
has been
produced, and it is given to a family that lost its
son to some
unspecified medical condition.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

The star is Haley Joel Osment. The supporting
cast includes Jude Law,
Frances O’Connor, William Hurt, and even Robin
Williams in a rather
small role.

It was directed by Steven Spielberg, based on his own
rewrite of Ian
Watson’s script. Spielberg continued the project
that Stanley Kubrick
was working on at the time of his death.

The IMDB page with information on this movie and
links to information
about all people involved is here.

A.I. was originally released on Friday,
June 29, 2001.

High Point

The story is written in a four act format. The end
of the first act,
as heart-wrenching as it may be, was done perfectly.

Low Point

The entire fourth act felt tacked on. This should be
a two hour
movie, not two and a half hours.

The Scores

Kubrick’s work has always demonstrated
originality, and this
final project of his is no exception. This updated
Pinocchio has
presented ideas which have been seen before, but they
are presented
with a style, pace, and atmosphere that hasn’t quite
been seen like
this. (If I were to find a movie this resembled, I
think it would
have to be Blade Runner, and that fit seems
forced.)
Although the ideas are old, the method of
presentation and exploration
is rather new. I give it 4 out of 6.

Now it’s time to evaluate the effects. What
can I say about
them? When Teddy ran through dirt, the dust clouds
behind him looked
too circular. That’s my only complaint. This is a
2.5 hour movie,
with special effects in almost every shot, and the
only effect I have
even a minor quibble over is an inconsequential 5
second bit. I feel
compelled to give it 6 out of 6.

The story was a standard three act structure
with a fourth
act shoehorned on the end. (The standard three act
structure is
described over here,
on Bruce Campbell’s official website. When watching
A.I.,
the three act structure was pretty apparent. Just as
the third act
came to a natural and excellent conclusion, a fourth
act started. I
got the distinct impression this fourth act was there
for the sake of
providing a happy ending, and that’s it. It did
allow for some
interesting symbolic parallels between David and
Martin, but that
symbolism does not compensate for the atrocity that
is that sequence.
I give the story 3 out of 6. (It would have been 5
out of 6 without
that fourth act.)

If Haley Joel Osment manages to keep his head on
straight, unlike most
child actors, he’ll have a long and Oscar-filled
career ahead of him.
In this film, he does a fantastic job, but it’s a
little hard to
notice that, because he doesn’t stand out. His
incredible acting was
on par with the acting done by every other actor that
appeared on
screen. I have to give the acting 6 out of 6.

This is the point where I discuss the emotional
response
this
film provoked. I personally didn’t feel very
provoked by any
characters or events in this film, but I noticed that
a large portion
of the audience was crying at a few points in the
movie, so I’ll
assume that my response wasn’t typical. I’ll split
the difference,
and give it 4 out of 6.

This is a Steven Spielberg film based on a Stanley
Kubrick project,
with outside help from the fabulous John Williams,
Industrial Light
and Magic, and other incredibly talented people. On
the technical
level, this is flawless. I give the
production 6 out of 6.

The only serious problem with this film is the fourth
act.
Unfortunately, it’s a BIG problem. I give the film 4
out of 6 overall.

In total, A.I. receives 33 out of 42.

Further Comments

I’m not sure how many of these trailers shipped with
the film, and how
many were there because the theater put them there,
but the print I
saw showed full trailers for Harry Potter,
Ratrace,
and Osmosis Jones. It also had a teaser
trailer for The
Time Machine
.

12 replies on “Movie Review – “A.I.””

  1. Kaki says:

    Maybe I’ll repost after seeing it…
    … but everyone keeps saying it was too long and the ending was tacked on. Umm, have you people seen some of Kubrick’s movies? Rule one: they are long.

    Exhibit A: “2001” (2hr19min); isn’t it a four act movie (at least)? Exhibit B: “Eye’s Wide Shut” (2hr39min) would seem to be at least four acts as well.

    I think that maybe Spielberg was just being faithful to the original vision.

    Everyone can read the length before going in, why all the yapping?

    • fiziko says:

      Re: Maybe I’ll repost after seeing it…

      … but everyone keeps saying it was too long and the
      ending was tacked on. Umm, have you people seen some of
      Kubrick’s movies? Rule one: they are long.

      Exhibit A: “2001” (2hr19min); isn’t it a four act movie
      (at least)? Exhibit B: “Eye’s Wide Shut” (2hr39min)
      would seem to be at least four acts as well. I don’t have
      a problem with long movies in general. I’m not trying to
      say this should have been 2 hours because I don’t want to
      sit there that long, I’m saying it should be two hours
      because the last half hour detracted from an already
      comlete story.

      I’ve seen (and own DVD copies of) both of those movies.
      They are long, but the story seems to be told properly.
      The fourth act here just glares as something that was
      tacked on. I don’t know if it was there because of
      Spielberg or Kubrick, but it was there, and I don’t think
      it should have been.

      • Kaki says:

        Re: Maybe I’ll repost after seeing it…

        I’ve seen (and own DVD copies of) both of those movies.
        They are long, but the story seems to be told properly.
        The fourth act here just glares as something that was
        tacked on. I don’t know if it was there because of
        Spielberg or Kubrick, but it was there, and I don’t think
        it should have been.

        Well, I’ll post again after seeing it tonight; I’m not able to debate your point just yet. I’m just remembering thinking, more than once, “o.k. enough with the [slow moving ship | pretty colors]” during 2001 and “o.k. enough with the piano music scenes” during Eyes Wide Shut.

        And it seems that complaining about the length of a movie is functionally close to disparaging one’s own attention span. Like I said, you can read the length before going in; maybe more people should just admit to themselves that they can’t take a long movie before going in instead of complaining after. As for the story-telling merits, those, you can’t read beforehand. So I’ll bid you a warm “until next post”.

      • XxWanderer says:

        Re: Maybe I’ll repost after seeing it…

        … but everyone keeps saying it was too long and the
        ending was tacked on. Umm, have you people seen some of
        Kubrick’s movies? Rule one: they are long.

        Exhibit A: “2001” (2hr19min); isn’t it a four act movie
        (at least)? Exhibit B: “Eye’s Wide Shut” (2hr39min)
        would seem to be at least four acts as well. I don’t have
        a problem with long movies in general. I’m not trying to
        say this should have been 2 hours because I don’t want to
        sit there that long, I’m saying it should be two hours
        because the last half hour detracted from an already
        comlete story.

        I’ve seen (and own DVD copies of) both of those movies.
        They are long, but the story seems to be told properly.
        The fourth act here just glares as something that was
        tacked on. I don’t know if it was there because of
        Spielberg or Kubrick, but it was there, and I don’t think
        it should have been.

        The “tacked on” ending was ALL Kubrick, and it has been in the script for at leasst 6 years.

  2. GusherJizmac says:

    The Worst Movie I’ve ever seen
    This movie was terrible. Each plot element felt contrived and convienient. I felt no bond between the mother and the robot son, and each decision made by the characters only served to set up the next sequence of events. The acting, sets, and special effects were all excellent, but the script was amateurish, unrefined, and just plain boring.

    This movie didn’t deal with any interesting subject matter that comes up. All philosophical questions were posed to obviously and blatently as to remove any possible magic from this movie. The ending was stupid, bizarre, and pointless. There was no conflict for the characters to overcome, no climax and no real point.

    I don’t know how many script rewrites went into this, but it needed many, many, many more. If you insist on seeing this movie, go to a matinee or sneak in, as it is not worth $9 in any way shape or form.

    • Dave says:

      Re: The Worst Movie I’ve ever seen
      Wow, nice strong subject line. It pretty much begs a response of some
      sort, independent of anything else that may be out there. :-)

      This movie was terrible. Each plot element felt contrived and
      convienient. I felt no bond between the mother and the robot son, and
      each decision made by the characters only served to set up the next
      sequence of events. The acting, sets, and special effects were all
      excellent, but the script was amateurish, unrefined, and just plain
      boring.

      The decisions do seem a bit contrived, but for those characters they make
      sense. Every ‘bot in the movie has a skewed perspective of the world.
      David looks at the world, tinting everything he sees in terms of “I want
      mommy to love me.” I don’t want to think too hard about the lenses Jude
      Law’s character wears. ;)

      Heck, this is why things like “Dr. Know” make sense. I’m wary to say more
      until more people have seen the movie… That there us a certain
      predictability to the characters makes perfect sense within the context of
      the movie.

      This movie didn’t deal with any
      interesting subject matter that comes up. All philosophical questions
      were posed to obviously and blatently as to remove any possible magic from
      this movie. The ending was stupid, bizarre, and pointless. There was no
      conflict for the characters to overcome, no climax and no real point.

      uh, that’s called “character-driven.” :-)

      Yeah, the many philosophical points that could have been brought up did
      seem to be glazed over a little bit. It’s kinda like “Philosophy Lite” —
      all the thought with only half the angst.

      I don’t know how many script rewrites went into
      this, but it needed many, many, many more. If you insist on seeing this
      movie, go to a matinee or sneak in, as it is not worth $9 in any way shape
      or form.

      No movie is worth modern movie ticket prices these days. That’s
      not a specific factor of this movie. That’s why, even though I’m no longer
      in college, I still keep the campus ID around. $5.75 is still a reasonable
      price for most movies…

  3. Dave says:

    another review
    This review offers an
    interesting perspective on why some people seem to love AI,
    and others seem to loathe it, both with the same passion.

    My review-ish-sorta-thing will be coming on the morrow,
    hopefully, as we just got tickets to the Late Late Late Show.

  4. Dave says:

    Trailers
    At my theater, the trailers were: Osmosis Jones,
    Harry Potter, Big Trouble, and one other
    which I don’t remember because it was utterly not memorable.

  5. Dave says:

    And, “emotional response”.
    I saw this movie last night (technically, this morning for the most part),and I’m afraid I have to dispute the “emotional response” score. Among mypartners-in-crime for this viewing were Jessie, who is quite probably thesingle most bitter and jaded person I know; and Kricket, whose yearsworking for the government have rendered her well-nigh invulnerable toemotional response of any kind.

    Jessie and Kricket were crying at the end of the “tacked on,” “happyending” fourth act. Not happy tears by any means…

    Yeah, it did feel a bit artificial, and they probably could have ended themovie at the end of the third act. But somehow that fourth act just reallyreally messed with their heads.

    This, I suspect, is a good solid talking point — what about the fourthact?

    (Aside: Highlight this next bit only if you’ve seen the movie… I’massuming the end of the third act is after the ferriswheel, before the bit with the ice, since after that does seem abit artificial.)

    Yes, you could have ended the movie there, and it still would’ve beenbloody depressing. But it’s that last twenty minutes that leads to myroommate Kricket coming up with clever phrases like “I feel emotionallyviolated.” I won’t dispute for a second that it feels added on, but Iwould very much dispute that it’s there to make people happy.

    • aufecht says:

      Re: And, “emotional response”.

      I won’t dispute for a second that it feels added on, but Iwould very much dispute that it’s there to make people happy.

      I have to agree with you there. It seemed to me that movie should have ended somewhere around the point where he jumps off the building. But, the last act was anything but a way to ease the emotional kick in the gut delivered earlier in the film. I have some gripes with the film, but I walked out of the theatre into an almost surreal environment. I don’t think I have seen such emotionally “violating” scenes, the fourth act stands out most, since Dancer in the Dark.

  6. Dave says:

    Just one more thing…
    … and then I’ll be quiet for a bit. :-)

    The mighty mighty slashdot has a big gaggle of review links
    up, and one that might be overlooked: the short story
    on which the movie is based, “Supertoys Last All Summer Long.” Enjoy.

  7. Kaki says:

    Well I saw it…
    …And I don’t think that the ending was tacked on. It rounded out David’s hero’s journey and completed the allegory of his life. By that I mean, David eventually had to face the cruel nature of the world that we all do. Like us, he chose temporary happiness. He had not confronted the nature death very well earlier in the movie. In the end he had to. And he did it bravely in the face of certain loss.

    And that is only one of the multitude of meanings and levels to this film. I plan to go back for more.

    Too long? Bull shit. I advocate growing up and getting an attention span. Or start asking for intermissions; I’ll join you in that cause. Don’t disparage great film makers for using the medium to its potiential.

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