By Jason A. Hill
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, USA, 2001
Directed by Steven Spielberg
I got about 75% of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Everything about it was strange, interesting and wonderfully disturbing, set in the near future but having an almost timeless quality of modern consumerism. It centers around a family whose only child has digressed into a vegetative state. A robotic boy named David (Haley Joel Osment), the first programmed to love, is adopted as a test case by a Cybertronics employee (Sam Robards) and his wife (Frances O”Conner), to replace their son, who has been cryogenically frozen until a cure can be found.
Though David is gradually accepted and becomes their child, a series of unexpected circumstances make this life impossible for David as he is abandoned by his “mother” and left to survive in a society that fears and hates their new robotic compatriots. Several groups of robot-hating humans chase David and his companions until they all are caught. David does eventually meet his creator, but fails to discover the meaning of his quest. He is then further pursued by agents of control.
After David is abandoned by his pursuers in his watery grave and discovered by alien archaeologists tens of thousands of years later, he is reactivated and asked to reveal the true nature of human beings by way of what they created and left behind.
The film works on many levels, from esoteric by way of the mother, to existential by way of David’s search for love and the meaning of his life. I really enjoyed everything about David’s journey; that is, until the end.
The last 20 minutes or so was just out of place and felt so jarringly juxtaposed to the first three quarters of the film that it seemed that Spielberg wanted to soften the landing. Understanding that this was the end of a pretty emotionally dark film, the aliens literally hold your hand through its final minutes, giving an overreaching and outwardly broad epilogue.
Still, those three-quarters of the film are some of the best sci-fi ever filmed, which is what makes the end so tragic. Like Michelangelo lopping off the head of his “David”, Spielberg was that close to a masterpiece.
Jason A. Hill is the Founder, Owner and Editor In Chief of Movies I Didn’t Get.com. He is a film critic and writer of articles and film reviews covering a variety of genres and film news that have been syndicated to many sites in the film blogosphere. He specializes in independent film in the US and Asia.
For more information please contact Jason at JasonAHill@MoviesIDidn’tGet.com.