| Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001) |
This is an unusual film with a big emotional impact, but is also an intellectual puzzler. I kept thinking about the film long afterwards and still don't know what to make of it.
Stanley Kubrick (creator of "2001: A Space Oddesy") had the original idea for AI and then passed it over to Steven Spielberg. Spielberg is masterful as always in this tale of a robot boy, purchased by a childless couple to fill that quintessential void in their hearts. The effects are spectacular, making the film intriguing on many levels: visually, emotionally, and intellectually.
Kubrick likes people to think when they watch his movies, which annoys many viewers. Many actually hate this movie, perhaps because it challenges some of their preconceived theories about human nature. It seems rude when a film does not carry forward those little myths about people that make us feel comfortable.
Here we explore the standard sci-fi question of robots versus humans. Can a very advanced robot feel emotions as we do? Should a robot have rights? But of course this isn't a movie about robots. The robots are a fresh way to pose questions about ourselves that are not easy to answer.
One thing that angers many viewers is the lack of conformity to modern gender rules. The object of sympathy is male and his mother is portrayed as having character flaws.
I can't say that I understood the film exactly, but it struck a cord in me.
We cannot help but see parallels between the robots and ourselves. Often people are used more than they are loved and this is more often a male experience. A fairytale format, beloved and accepted, tells of a young knight who must slay a dragon to win the love of a fair maiden. The knight must risk his life and health and becomes worthy of love only if he is successful.
This carries forward to today, when a woman looks for a man who has a good job, who arranges and pays for every date, and who runs ahead to hold doors open for her. It is generally considered wrong for a man to express his emotions such as crying or being angry. Acceptable male emotional expressions involve his love and concern for others and his desire to serve others. Many men must at times, feel like they are robots.
Also, AI looks at the "mother wound" which shapes and often ruins the lives of many adults.
Besides making me think too much, it was very entertaining, slow in places, but riveting in others. Much more so than Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey", which is due to the Spielberg contribution. Even though I liked the film, I have to admit that it was too long at 146 minutes.
Fans of Haley Joel Osment, who stars as the boy robot David, will not be disappointed. His acting is excellent and almost at an Oscar level.
Either you love "AI" or you hate it. There is not much middle ground. It is not a comfortable, relaxing movie. It makes you think. You must decide if you are ready for that.
- Reviewed by Paul G.