AI: Artificial Intelligence: Robots Have Feelings Too

The next movie we'll be watching is the flawed but underrated AI: Artificial Intelligence.  A Stanley Kubrick/Steven Spielberg collaboration, this film comes in at #732 on our list.

This film takes place in a future where many cities located along the coastlines have been flooded and destroyed.  Millions of people were displaced, and there were apparently shortages, so they use robots on a large scale for convenience and energy efficiency.  But one day, seemingly out of the blue, the head of a cybernetic corporation decides that he would like to create a robot capable of love - in particular, the love of a child for its parents.

And a couple whose child has been in a coma for the past five years is the perfect test.  They take on a robot boy named David, but are warned that if they follow the protocol to have him imprint on them, it's irreversible, and if they change their minds, the robot will have to be destroyed.  Even though there is no possible way for this to end well, Monica imprints on David, and becomes his mommy.  Things go reasonably well -- that is until their real son, Martin, recovers from his illness and comes home.  This makes everything a little bit awkward.  Sure enough, it's not too long before Monica takes David to the middle of a forest and leaves him there to fend for himself.  Thanks, Mommy Dearest.

David is convinced that if he can find the Blue Fairy (from Pinocchio), she will turn him into a real boy and his mother will love him again.  Excuse me while I cry until there's just nothing left.

Unfortunately, he's not only chasing after a fictional character, he's chasing after a fictional character in a world that gets its kicks by torturing and destroying robots. Que horror!  So he teams up with a sexbot (no, seriously) and they go on a road trip in search of Dr Know (who apparently knows everything and is a big Connery fan).

They learn from Dr Know/Robin Williams that the Blue Fairy does in fact exist, she lives in Manhattan (figures) and does have the power to turn turn robots into people.  So they set off again on a journey to NYC.  One thing leads to another, and David is trapped in a submarine underwater for 2000 years, at which point some freaky robot people pull him and Teddy out of the ice.  They apparently have the technology to put him in a sort of echo of his home, and he's allowed to spend one day with a recreation of his mother -- after that, she will never wake up again.  So David spends the day with her, and after she goes to sleep, he...dies?  I think?  It's a little ambiguous.

Random Musings:

  • Really? I can't be the only person who sees the idea of a robot child as one fraught with problems?  Why even open up that can of worms?  I really think it's just not a workable plan.  I don't think people would be able to love a robot.  By their very nature, they make people uneasy - they fall into the uncanny valley, where the more realistic something seems without actually being human, the more uncomfortable it makes people.  So 10 out of 10 for style, but minus several million for good thinking, yeah?

  • "I can never go to sleep, but I can lay quietly and not make a peep." Oh God that is so sad someone hold me.

  • How fair is it to create something that will always have a child's mentality, and then make it love unconditionally a person who's going to die in just a few years (in robot time, of course)?  And how are Monica and Henry going to feel ten, twenty years down the line, when they're older and still running around after a robot that acts like a little kid?

  • And what about this Martin kid?  He's a little creeper, isn't he?  Not that you can really blame him, he's just recovered from a traumatic injury and comes home to find out that his parents replaced him with a robot, I'd be acting out too.

  • I don't care what anyone has to say about Haley Joel Osment, he is one of the best child actors I've ever.

I mean...come on.

  • Oh god, I'm going to cry my eyes out over the spider robot.  He's just so polite and he's trying to explain to the people how he broke his lamp and that's why he can't work anymore.  I don't have enough tears for all of this.

  • I'm pretty sure this movie is what would happen if Bicentennial Man, Blade Runner, and The Wizard of Oz had a love child.

The only real issue I have with this movie is that it seems a little unsure of what kind of story it wants to tell.  I think a lot of this is simply because it's a collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick.  It seems torn between Spielberg's sentimentality and Kubrick's darker cynicism.  Simply put, is it a story about a robot boy who just wants to be human, or is it a more dystopian science fiction story about robotics?  Certainly it has elements of both, but there's a slight disconnect between the two approaches that prevents the film from being great.  There's just something that is tonally a little bit off.  And unfortunately, the film does start to drag for me around the 1 hour 45 minute mark.  

Nevertheless, Haley Joel Osment does a great job at carrying the film in a way that few child actors are capable of.  And there are some very interesting concepts within the film, and great visuals.  They do a good job of making you feel emotionally invested in the robots, even the ones that we only see for a few minutes.  And lest I forget, there is Jude Law as a sex robot named Gigolo Joe.  Come on, that's awesome.

Thanks for reading, and come back tomorrow for Broken Blossoms!

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Anonymous said...

Found you through the "LAMB" :D

I LIKE the mix between Spielberg and Kubrick. The fact that you can feel the involvement of both is one of the films strongest selling points, to me.

I've always thought this movie was way underrated, although youre definitely right, at times, they do tug the heart strings a BIT too hard. LOL

Audrey on a Mission said...

Well, it is a Spielberg film, so one has to expect a little tugging at the heart strings. :) I do like this film, I saw it when it first came out and I was always surprised when people acted like it was such a terrible movie. Definitely underrated.

Thanks for reading! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing. LOL

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