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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Director:
Steven Spielberg
COUNTRY
USA
GENRE
Drama/Science Fiction
NORWEGIAN TITLE
A.I.: kunstig intelligens
RUNNING TIME
146 minutes
Producers:
Bonnie Curtis
Kathleen Kennedy
Steven Spielberg
Screenwriter:
Steven Spielberg

Based on the short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" by:
Brian Aldiss


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
David Haley Joel Osment
Gigolo Joe Jude Law
Monica Swinton Frances O'Connor
Henry Swinton Sam Robards
Martin Swinton Jake Thomas
Professor Allen Hobby William Hurt
Lord Johnson-Johnson Brendan Gleeson -

Dr. Know (voice)

Robin Williams -

Specialist (voice)

Ben Kingsley -

Comedian (voice)

Chris Rock -

Blue Fairy (voice)

Meryl Streep -

 

Review

The concept of humans making machines with a consciousness was a central theme in science fiction literature all through the 20th century, and British writer Brian Aldiss' short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" from 1969 belonged to that tradition. In development by Stanley Kubrick for a number of years, the story was ultimately adapted by Steven Spielberg after Kubrick's death in 1999, some 15 years after Kubrick had first asked Spielberg to take on the task. So there's an element of collaboration between the two master directors in A.I., although Spielberg is credited with both writing and directing, incidentally his first writing credit since Close Encounters. It's a wonderful looking film with first-rate production values.

At the core of the story is the timeless ethical dilemma of when a machine, or a robot in this case, ceases to be an object something disposable and becomes a being something with intrinsic value. A.I. proposes that this line is crossed once the robot is able to love and receive love, which is an abstraction that most people probably can appreciate, and perhaps particularly when you tie it up to the love between mother and child. Still, the love presented in A.I. is a perverted form of love which arguably pertain neither to humans nor machines. David, although brilliantly played by the talented Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense), is far more interesting as a concept than as a dramatic character. But it's the latter Spielberg ultimately focuses on and wants to exploit.

The film consists of three curiously distinctive parts, each with its separate tone between which Spielberg shifts quite abruptly. After an intriguing intro, in which the interesting William Hurt character introduces the film's concept to us before Spielberg draws us into an alluring, futuristic world, seemingly inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky, where disaster is steadily looming, the film continues on to its Hollywoodized middle-part. A fun Jude Law pops up as a campy gigolo robot who skips around like Gene Kelly through an adventurous world that looks and feels like a hybrid between Blade Runner and Spielberg's most childlike adventure films. This particular segment is structured like a quest-based video-game, with bubbly and fairytalish characters such as Dr. Know (voiced by Robin Williams) and The Blue Fairy (voiced by Meryl Streep). This part may be a favourite for young audiences, especially the misanthropists among them. It's a bleak, sad and still weirdly upbeat world. The third and final part is where Spielberg pours on his by now familiar sentimentality and tries to end on a philosophical high note. The interesting ethical dilemmas from earlier in the film are touched upon again, but Spielberg is really more interested in sucking the last drops of cuteness out of Osment and of David's hopeless, awkward pursuit for a warped motherly love.

Re-reviewed: Copyright 13.11.2021 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright 30.03.2003 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang