I meant to put this up last week, but didn’t get a chance to. Been in my writing cave.
AI. Artificial Intelligence is the story of a futuristic world in which the ice caps have melted and the governments have put limits on how many children a family can have. In the midst of this, a robotics company takes its first steps into making robots seem more human. To prove whether or not they’ve accomplished this feat, they chose one of their own, Henry Swinton (played by Sam Robards), to test a new android. The poor man’s son had some sort of tragedy (which the movie never elucidates on) and so when he shows up at home with this perfect little boy robot (played by Haley Joel Osment), his wife, Monica (played by Frances O’Connor), doesn’t know what to make of the “gift”. The boy is strange, though he looks like a real boy, he doesn’t really act like one, always in her face and oddly curious about her reactions.
Finally Monica sees no alternative and “imprints” herself on David. No longer is he just a robot, but he’s now, irrevocably her son. The poor woman is having conflicts and anxiety enough, but then the impossible happens: her real son wakes from his coma. They bring the boy home and he begins to make David’s life a living hell.
When Monica and Henry begin to suspect David might pose a threat to their son, and possibly to themselves, Monica abandons him and he ends up scooped up in a human-led sweep of robots, and thrust into a demolition circus, of sorts. Here, he meets Gigilo Joe (played by Jude Law) whose life he saves by the sheer fact that he’s with him when the crowd begins to doubt whether David is a robot. Could he be a real child?
Joe then takes David into an underworld of the robotic sex trade, on his never-ending quest to find the blue fairy. Instead, he finds the man the made him and subsequently loses his sense of self and becomes trapped at the bottom of the vast ocean that New York (and most places in the world) has become for all time.
In a nutshell.
This is one of Stanley Kubrick’s last films. I never knew it was a short story, until, literally, the other day–and by SF Grandmaster Brian Aldiss too *smacks forehead*. (My apologies to Brian Aldiss) So I took a peek at the story. It’s…well, a shell of what the movie became so how closely it sticks to Brian’s story, or how many Pinocchio references the story itself makes, I have no idea. The actors pulled off their parts nicely, but going back to its release date, my initial thoughts were… well, it was an odd little story with plenty of missed potential. Unfortunately, the movie leaned far too heavily on blatant references to Pinocchio. (Apologies, Brian). Pre-Once Upon a Time, I wasn’t a big fan of leaning on fairy tales to tell one’s story. If “originality is everything” as it was for me, back when this was first released, A.I. fell flat. The constant reminder that “THIS IS A PINOCCHIO RETELLING!” (just in case you didn’t get that from the theme) drove me absolutely nuts the first few times I saw it.
Now, some years on I’ve read Brian Aldiss’ story and I still think the movie’s heavy handed on the Pinocchio retelling “yellow warning signs!” *Laughs* Oh well… it’s an entertaining movie, either way.
It’s got some nifty extras that explain the world, the robots, and of course, we can’t forget the all-important computer graphics.