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A. I.
Review written by: Alex Sandell


"Didn't they explain this to you already? 
This is 'Kiddy-World,' Kubrick style!" 

What's the story?:

It's Pinocchio, on acid and CGI.  I don't want to give away more than that, because, unlike most pre-packaged Hollywood blockbusters, A. I. has some big surprises in store, even for the most jaded movie patron.  Oh, and I should probably put your disparaging mind at ease by mentioning that it is NOTHING like Bicentennial Man.

So, how is it? (Get to the point, already.)

Ever seen one of those Conan O'Brien skits, the ones where he takes two celebrity couples, and through the magic of computer, shows them what their child would look like, if they chose to breed?  Since first hearing that Steven Spielberg was taking over Stanley Kubrick's film, A. I., after Kubrick kicked the celluloid bucket, I thought the film would be about as cute as one of those digitalized mongoloid freak infants Conan shows weekly on his show.  To my surprise, Spielberg took Kubrick's vision, twisted in some of his own ideas, and created an amalgam of a movie that will hopefully satisfy the most discriminating of tastes.

This isn't just one film that you're seeing.  This isn't just one director, or one directorial style being displayed in front of your starving eyes.  Although Spielberg gets most of the credit (Kubrick is relegated to "concept"), this is obviously more Stanley's film than it is Steven's.  Sure, after the first 30 minutes, or so, it moves at a near breakneck pace that Stanley wouldn't hear of, during his lifetime, but Steven begins to slow things down again at the end, just enough to remind you that this isn't really his baby, after-all.  This is merely a transfer from Kubrick's many discussions and concept designs regarding the film, before his death, to an actual movie that Spielberg created.  There are the trademark Spielberg moments scattered throughout; but instead of wrecking the film that Kubrick would have made, they actually accentuate what was obviously Kubrick's idea of where the film should have gone.  

Steven Spielberg does a wonderful job contrasting the darker vision Kubrick had of A. I. with his own lighter, fairy-tale version of how he feels the film should play.  After a few mushy E. T. type moments, the viewer is literally jolted into a world that could be created by no one other than the wonderful Stanley Kubrick.  This isn't A Clockwork Orange, but it damn well isn't Hook, either.  A lot of the parents in the theater found the film, and I quote, "disturbing" and, "not for kids at all."  I don't agree with those comments, but I do think that children should definitely be forewarned that this isn't the sweet little fable they've been promised in the television commercials.  Sure, David the machine (played by Haley Joel Osment) wants to become a real boy, to gain the love of his "mother," which is all heartwarming, but he has a hell of a lot of very frightening (especially for the under 13 gang) set of obstacles to go through, if he ever hopes to attain his dreams.  This is a hard PG-13, and that's just the way Kubrick would have wanted it.  

Everything "Kubrick" in the film is spectacular.  The way David is befriended by the flamboyant Gigolo Joe (Jude Law, in his best role to date), a machine made for no reason other than to fuck and suck the ladies in Rouge City, a neon-crazed part of the country that would put any red light district to shame, just had to have come from Kubrick's zany brain.  A few of the "Spielberg" moments in the film are slightly shaky, but luckily there aren't that many.  The Spielberg scene that annoyed me the most was with "Dr. Know."  The entire section seemed robbed from Spielberg's original Jurassic Park, when Mr. DNA introduces Dr. Hammond, and then Hammond talks to the film version of himself during a presentation played to his visitors in hopes of explaining how his team was able to extract dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes.  

Still, I'm making double D cups out of single A's.  Spielberg and Kubrick essentially did a tag-team job of directing A. I..  Two directors of that caliber getting together to make a film just doesn't happen.  And it didn't.  It took the death of Kubrick to make it occur.  Sure, if Kubrick had made it, with no help from Spielberg, it would be far more intense, a lot more boring (in a good way), and the cutesy stuff would have been cut.  At the same time, if Spielberg would have made it, with no help from Kubrick, it would be far more sentimental, and all the "scary" stuff would be replaced with glowing alien fingers and magical moments created to put a lump in the audience's throat.   Spielberg wrote and directed it with a little bit of both.  I think that, in the end, he was extremely daring with the pacing and attitude of the film, and had the nerve to bring Kubrick's vision to light.  

I honestly believe Stanley would have been proud of the picture Steven created, warts and all.  I hope the majority of the movie watching community feels the same way.  In traditional Kubrick style, this film does get slow moving (think the last 15 minutes of Kubrick's 2001) in parts, and I'm afraid Attention Deficit Disordered America will turn their backs on A. I., looking for another hyper-spastic pile of crap like Tomb Raider.  Spielberg doesn't usually move this slow, or probe this deep, and a lot of his diehard fans, many of whom have probably never heard of Stanley Kubrick, may leave the theater sorely disappointed.  

I hope that Spielberg's fans are more open than I'm giving them credit for, and they help make the film a huge success, so we can see more films, in the "event" arena, that slow down long enough for plot and character development.  I honestly didn't think we'd ever get to see another big budget movie like A. I. again, and I don't want this to be the last of its kind.  I've seen one too many great movies become financial disasters, over the last decade.  And yes, A. I. is a great movie.  Kubrick and Spielberg produced the perfect baby; not even Conan, and his wonder-computer, could have seen that one coming.

What does it make you feel like eating?

Humans.  Trust me, you'll like us even less, after this film.

What are you selling us here???

I noticed "Samsung."  I can't remember seeing any others, but I'm sure they were there.  This film really grabbed me, and I sorta lost myself in it.  It was hard to pick out product placements.

If it won an Oscar, what would it be?

"Best merging of two completely different directorial styles into one film" - A. I.

On a scale of 1-10?

9

Agree? Disagree? Email me at alex@juicycerebellum.com 

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Text (Copyright) 2001 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].

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