Director: Steven Spielberg
Year Released: 2001
Many critics have pounced on the film, saying it's a "humanitarian's take on a pessimist's vision" - obviously, the pessimist is Stanley Kubrick, who engineered the project (to an extent) before he died - and they're probably right: it's too warm when it should be cynical and strives too hard for an emotional connection that is not there (Kubrick's take would have been infinitely more bleak and distanced). The first part of the film - before we meet Gigolo Joe (Jude Law, very good) - is a slippery mess, both unintentionally funny and amateurish. It's clear Spielberg isn't going for chuckles, though that's what happens when the robot bear, "Teddy," who is like Yoda but cuter, steals the show (you wind up watching him more than Haley Joel Osment, who is perhaps the most uninteresting "thing" in the picture). After the painful beginning it breaks, unexpectedly, into different, more varied territories - notably, there's a post-modern "Flesh Fair," a WWF-type event in which broken down robots are crushed in a grueling fashion (this sequence is amazing, to say the least, and it showcases the director's gift as a visual maverick); later on, Spielberg delves into Osment's morose encounter with liquid aliens in the very far future. A.I. is way too uneven and disjointed to be really cohesive or prove a valid point - its "message" about "love" is underwritten - but strangely beautiful in parts, and visually groundbreaking (think Blade Runner). It is definitely "schizophrenic," and deeply, deeply flawed, but also, at times, quite haunting.