Damn it Spielberg you did it again! I thought you wouldn't get me but once again you made me cry whilst watching one of your films, sheesh!. Right...'A.I.', batten down the hatches mateys, this could be a big one.
From the collective minds of Kubrick and Spielberg comes this lavish epic about a little robot boy who is brought into a young couples life. Based on a short story by a writer I admit I've never heard of, yet the idea could easily be mistaken for work from the brains of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov or Philip K. Dick.
Lets begin, this film gave me a headache, not a bad headache, more of a problematic headache. I was stuck and didn't know what to think. The film is a massive story betwixt two ideas or genres almost, on one hand you have the first half of a film that centres around the human angst and emotion of trying to adapt to adopting a robot child. The pain of a mother who's child is at deaths door from disease, and the decision by her husband to offer her a brand new state of the art robot child that for the first time can learn and express love for its owner.
The second half of the film then changes completely, gone is the sentiment and powerful family bound plot as we enter into a more seedy grim world. One could almost say the film adopts many visual concepts from other sci-fi films/genres, which do work on their own, but maybe not together with this story.
The story is enthralling and draws you in...but oh so many questions arise Mr Spielberg, where to begin!. Once we leave the comfort of the family orientated first part of the film we pretty much straight away hit the Flesh Fair. Now this really did seem too harsh for me, a completely disjoined idea that harks back to a 'Mad Max' type world. Why would people of the future act like this towards simple machines? the whole sequence looked like some freaky red neck carnival. It also seemed like a huge setup for not very much, just a few minutes of carnage, was all that fan fair really required?.
This lead me to the question of why do this to old, lost, outdated Mecha's? (the term for robots in this film which sounds a bit Japanese to me). Now surely these robots cost a lot to make, much time, effort, design etc...went into creating them, so surely destroying them is a complete waste. Wouldn't fixing them up for simple labour tasks like cleaning or whatever, be more useful? maybe selling them on? and even if you did have to shut them down, just do it more humanly, why the need for all the violence?. The whole sequence just didn't seem sensible really, and it was thought up by Spielberg!.
Eventually we get to Rouge City, where is this suppose to be? why not use a real city?. Again the whole concept seemed out of place, the city seemed much more futuristic than everything else we have seen, plus the architecture was truly odd. The huge tunnel bridges with a woman's gaping open mouth as the opening? it seemed very 'Giger-esq' to me, quite sexual too, kids film anyone?. Then you had buildings shaped like women's boobs and legs etc...geez!. Its here we meet 'Gigolo Joe' who is superbly played by Jude Law I can't deny, but really at the end of the day, was he needed at all?. He is a nice character, very likeable but virtually bordering on a cartoon character, and why the need for the tap dancing?.
The makeup was very good for the Mecha characters, simple yet effective for both Law and Osment. Kudos to Osment of course for his portrayal of the robot 'David', I honestly can say its probably the best performance for a robot I've ever seen. Brilliant casting too I might add, Osment can act but his looks are half the battle won right there, he has this almost perfect plastic looking young face, its all in the eyes I think.
Speaking of characters how can I not mention the star of the film, 'Teddy'. Now this little guy was adorable, I still find myself wanting my own Teddy *whimpers*. Every scene this little fellow was in I loved, I loved to see him waddle around and assist David in his simple electronic voice. I found myself caring for all the characters in this film but especially Teddy, he was just awesome. Sure he seemed to have some kind of infinite power source but that made him even cooler damn it!. What really broke my heart was we don't know what happens to lill Teddy, we see him at the end but what becomes of him?? what Steven WHAT??!!. I loved that lill guy *sniff*.
As you near the end of the film and its multiple ongoing finales you literately get submerged in questions. 2000 years pass from the time David is trapped under the sea and his rescue (the ferris wheel didn't crush the helicopter/sub thingy??), in that time the planet has gone from global warming jungles to a MASSIVE ice age? I mean a REALLY HEAVY ice age. Now I'm no scientist but that doesn't seem right. I might quickly add, in the future why are all the skyscrapers in New York in tatters? as if they've been burnt out?. Sure the bottom of them has been flooded but they look like skeletons! as if a nuke hit them, eh?.
The we get to the evolved Mecha's (or 'Close Encounter' aliens). How would these robots evolve into these angelic liquid-like creatures?? I don't get it, if the human race became extinct tomorrow would computers evolve into alien-like creatures?. Sure these robots can fix themselves and update themselves but that far? really?. Then you gotta ask yourself why would they be digging up old human remains? they know humans created them, OK they might not understand why but does that matter?. They clearly have highly advanced technology so why don't they travel space and look for new similar intelligent life?. Why bother with the human race, of which many despised them anyway, treated them like crap.
This then leads onto the resurrection part of the story. I still can't quite work out why David's mother would only live for one day when brought back. There is an explanation from the advanced Mecha's but I couldn't follow it. Again we then have all manner of plot issues...why his mother doesn't recall her husband or son when she wakes, she doesn't question why David is there, she's disorientated but doesn't question anything. She doesn't seem to remember anything like the fact she was probably an old lady when she was last awake, and she doesn't ask to go outside! they stay inside the whole time. You could say the advanced Mecha fixed it so she wouldn't recall anything so not to jeopardize the situation, but when she wakes she acts as if nothing happened and its just a new day.
Where the plot really gets silly is the fact this is all possible simply because Teddy kept some strands of cut hair from David's mother about 2000 years prior. Where on earth did he keep these hairs? its not like he has pockets, and what's more...why did he keep the strands of hair??!!. On top of that, and again I'm no scientist, but surely you'd need the roots of human hair for the DNA, not just cut strands, no?.
Now there are a lot of whines in there but unfortunately there are a lot of plot issues in the film. I won't and can't say its a bad film, its a truly fantastic bit of sci-fi with some lovely design work and visuals, but there are problems along the way. First half is a decent sci-fi story similar to 'Bicentennial Man', second half is really a rehashed rip off of the classic 'Pinocchio' tale set in the future.
The film garnered a lot of interest due to the involvement of Kubrick and Spielberg admittedly but its still a wonderful bit of work. Part sci-fi but all fairytale in the end, the film slowly becomes more of a children's tale the deeper you go, the narration nails that home if you think about it. The very end is kinda tacked on and doesn't feel correct, true, you can see they had trouble ending the film and a weepy ending was required so they made one. But god damn it works *sniff*.
The final sequence of David lying besides his motionless mother still brings a lump to my throat as I type this now. We then see Teddy join them on the bed and just sit down to watch over them both, like a guardian. Does David actually die here? does he voluntarily switch himself off somehow? again...what happens to Teddy? I'm not sure. But as the score swells and the lights dim, you can't help but wipe away a tear.