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500 Five-Star: A.I-Artificial Intelligence (2001)

June 15, 2011

A.I is a difficult film for me to review.  I adore Steven Spielberg.  I’m convinced he will always be my favourite director, and my own personal five star list would contain probably 3/4 of his films, if not more.  A.I, however, would not be on the list.

There are many things to love about A.I.  The vast majority of the film is deeply involving, which some moments being nigh on heartbreaking.  It asks huge questions about the meaning of love, life and what it is to be real.  Haley Joel Osment, carrying the weight of the whole film, is incredible.  The special effects and production design are astounding.  The film moves from a cold, sterile human environment to a magical, bright, raucous, surreal robot world, features a Robin Williams-voiced animated character and Jude Law as a suave robot gigolo, a walking, talking teddy bear sidekick…all of this coming from the creative minds of Stanley Kubrick (who worked on the film for twenty years before passing it on) and Steven Spielberg.  It’s impossible not to appreciate the incredibly high level of artistry.

Sadly though, the film as a whole never quite manages to live up to all of the amazing elements within.  It feels disjointed, never flowing smoothly and the frustration that comes from that is incredibly draining.  By the end of the film, I feel exhausted from trying so hard to figure out what it is that I’m missing, what secret link it is that I’m not quite catching.  At this point, I’ve come to terms with the fact that the film will never sit right with me.  The ending doesn’t help.  It’s typically Spielberg-ian in it’s sentimentality, which isn’t necessarily a huge issue for me, but it is also overlong, confusing and requires too much exposition.  In actual fact, there’s a moment, twenty minutes before the actual ending, which would (to my mind) have been a much more poignant stopping point.  This is not a film that needs to be spelled out, or sugarcoated.  There is no need to fear the questions that A.I asks.  Sadly, Spielberg obviously didn’t feel the same way.

Verdict:

I have tried, I really have, but I just can’t appreciate A.I in the way some others do.  It’s a valiant effort by Spielberg to explore questions that have plagued mankind since the beginning of time, but he can’t quite pull it off.  For that reason, I have to go against Empire’s view and give it only…

****

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