MORIARTY Has Seen A.I.
Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
I couldn’t wait any longer.
That’s my only defense for my actions.
To those two perfectly lovely people in the parking garage at the DGA Theater tonight in Hollywood, I apologize. I didn’t think Henchman Mongo would hit you so hard, and I had no idea he’d undress you and do... that to you if we left him watching you. One thing to keep in mind... that means he likes you.
I had no choice, though. We were getting reviews for A.I. left and right, and my priority was clear: see the movie before Harry. No matter who else had seen it, I knew I needed to go before Harry. He saw the LOTR footage at Cannes. He gloats about this. GLOATS. Lords it over me. So there was no “maybe” about it. I needed to see the film first. To that end, I had my henchmen go out and procure and time and location for me of a screening for international press, using whatever force they had to. Robie and I unleashed Mongo on the aforementioned unsuspecting saps and then headed upstairs, A.I. invitations in hand.
And now I’m sitting here, deflated, on the other end of things, and I’m left with one thought above all the rest:
It wasn’t worth the effort. My effort. Robie’s effort. Mongo’s effort. Kubrick’s effort. Osment’s effort. ANYONE’s effort.
Yes, folks, it’s true. I am here today to tell you there is no Santa Claus. I have to be the bad guy. Many of you are going to hate me after this review, and you may never get over it. I’m that car coming down the long private drive in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, carrying that letter, the last thing any film fan wants to see coming. But the dream’s over. Kubrick’s really gone. And A.I. is a disappointment of unsuspected proportions.
Let us define things very clearly before we continue: A.I. is not “a piece of shit.” It is not “a disaster.” It is not “gay” or “an abortion” or any of the two dozen other terms our TalkBackers use to disparage anything that isn’t transcendent. A.I. is a disappointment. It is frustrating. It is deeply flawed. It is ultimately unsatisfying. It is a failure, but an interesting one, and it is worth discussion if only to try and understand how such provocative material could be such a heartbreak when you actually see it. And you will see it. It’s inevitable. In fact, it should be required for any film fan, if only to see how far off the mark it really is.
I think “heartbreak” is the perfect term, actually. When John Robie and I walked out of the theater, we couldn’t look at each other. In the elevator on the way down to the lobby, we couldn’t look at each other. As we drove back to the Labs, we couldn’t look at each other. Neither one of us wanted to say it first. The longer we didn’t talk about it, the more it sunk in. The movie doesn’t work. The movie doesn’t work. Dear, sweet god... the movie doesn’t work.
There’s really only one way to accurately discuss this film, and that’s to go into some degree of spoilers. Yes, I’m going to talk about the ending. I’m going to talk about a lot of things before the ending, too. And the worst part is that I can’t really spoil it, since nothing much happens. If you want to go in clean, without knowing anything, then go ahead and split now. I understand. This review is for those who have seen it, even if that means they read it later, and who are looking to dissect the corpse of this heavily-anticipated dud.
From the film’s opening frames, something is wrong. Something is off. Spielberg’s celebrity fetish is turned all the way up in this movie, meaning we get Ben Kingsley narrating, William Hurt playing a background role, Robin Williams, Chris Rock, and Meryl Streep contributing voices... and every single one of them is distracting. He couldn’t have reminded me any more emphatically that what I was watching was just another Hollywood movie. Remember back in the ‘70s when Spielberg used to cast those amazing faces, like in JAWS or CLOSE ENCOUNTERS or SUGARLAND EXPRESS? What happened? Is he afraid of real people now? Or just too insulated to remember they exist?
See, I grew up on Steven Spielberg movies, and I’m not ashamed to say it. There seems to be a general feeling today that it’s not “hip” to like Spielberg, but it’s not a choice in my case. I was hardwired to his rhythms as a filmmaker as I was growing up. His films are among my earliest, most vivid memories as a filmgoer, and I hold much of his work very dear to my heart. I adore CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, as pure and beautiful a “real-world” sci-fi story as I’ve ever seen on film. I love JAWS and remember first feeling real terror in a theater when seeing that film, and I revere RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK above all other adventure movies. I have written before on this site of my love for SCHINDLER’S LIST. I plan to write about why AMISTAD is underrated when I finish that damn ‘90s list albatross at some point. I think EMPIRE OF THE SUN is poetry. I think THE COLOR PURPLE is a remarkably humanistic accomplishment. I think ALWAYS is a sweet throwback to the spirit of ‘40s films and beats GHOST at its own game. All of this is my way of saying that there are Spielberg bashers in the world. I am not one of them.
There was a point in time when I felt like he was the best American director of children ever, second in the world only to Francois Truffaut. Henry Thomas, Christian Bale, Carey Guffey, Joey Mazello, Justin Dreyfuss, Drew Barrymore... they all did exemplary work under his watchful eye, and there was a sense of real magic at work in their performances. When he chose Haley Joel Osment to play the lead role in A.I., I heard a number of complaints from people that it was an easy choice, that he should have found a new face, that Haley was nothing but technique without a soul. I was intrigued, though, having heard the rumors that Spielberg refused to commit to HARRY POTTER because he couldn’t hire Osment to play the role. He obviously saw something in Osment that inspired him, and I was curious to see what it was.
Indeed, if anyone survives A.I. unscathed, it’s Haley Joel, playing a fairly unlikeable role. Those expecting a sentimental ride in the typical Spielberg mode will be bitterly disappointed here, and despite the PG-13, this is not a film that families should see together. David, the robot child at the center of the film, is fairly unsympathetic, despite Spielberg’s deliberate attempts to set him up as a figure to be pitied.
Part of the problem here is the schizophrenic nature of the material. Kubrick was one of the masters (along with the Coen Bros) of making films that force you to have a genuine emotional reaction because they are so careful to leave easy sentiment and forced emotion out. Kubrick’s films were like movie screens with one corner left blank, asking you to project something of yourself in order to complete the picture. Spielberg has never been one for ambiguity, though, and his attempts to tell a story in the Kubrick vein while still retaining his own personal stamp on the material results in some of the strangest logic issues and emotional missteps I’ve ever seen in a movie.
When we meet Henry (Sam Robards) and Monica Swinton (Frances O’Connor), they are visiting their son Martin (Jake Thomas), who has been stricken with a terrible, incurable disease and placed in suspended animation to keep him from dying. It’s been five years, and they’re unable to grieve, unable to maintain hope. They are trapped in an emotional limbo. Or at least, that’s what we’re told. This entire film is one of the most painful examples of telling us things instead of showing us things that I’ve witnessed. Time after time, information is given to us verbally that we should see and feel instead. As a result, it’s an oddly passive experience. Scenes race by, giving us information rather than experience. It doesn’t help that Robards and O’Connor are almost wholly unwatchable in their roles. He’s a blank and she’s a cypher. We don’t care about their relationship with David because we don’t care about them or David in any way. Okay, fine, their child is frozen. Still, having learned in the opening frames that much of the world is underwater and “millions starved,” I can’t work up a lot of sympathy for a couple who is still affluent enough to have a house in the country with all the amenities, including the very first advanced robot child. They’re living in the same kind of bubble that Spielberg himself lives in at this point, removed from any sort of real difficulties or hardships, imbued instead with a sort of ennui that is next to impossible to feel pity towards. O’Connor’s reactions aren’t realistic at all. Instead, they’re all just convenience, story points designed to drive the thing forward. Her gradual thawing towards David, this strange thing that looks like a boy, is presented in a couple of quick cuts, none of which offers any convincing explanation for her feelings to change.
When David is brought home, Monica is told that there is a protocol she must observe if she wants David to imprint on her and activate his love circuitry. It’s seven words, seemingly random, that she reads while they look into each other’s eyes. This is one of the few truly great scenes in the film, and if it had been earned, built up to properly, it would have been devastating. As it is, my respect for Osment’s abilities was cemented by his subtle shift upon hearing the words. It’s almost imperceptible, a turn of the head and a widening of the eyes, but it’s a sledgehammer, and when he curls into her embrace, calling her “mommy” for the first time, I felt like the film was finally getting underway.
Spielberg just can’t find his rhythm, though. He’s hampered by his own efforts as a writer time and time again. And before the debate gets underway in the Talk Back about who “really” wrote A.I., let me weigh in with my theory. As we’ve been told ad infinitum now, this is the first script Spielberg has written since CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. Except he didn’t write that film any more than he wrote the novelization for it, which also bears his name. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS was worked on by at least eight writers I know of: John Hill, Paul Schrader, Matthew Robbins and Hal Barwood, David Giler and Walter Hill, Jerry Belson, and the ubiquitous John Milius. And although A.I. went through the hands of writers like Ian Watson (who is given a “screen story by” credit in the film) and Sarah Maitland, I’ve heard from reliable sources that Spielberg did indeed sit down and write this one himself, using earlier treatments and notes as a guide. I’d believe it, too. This is the work of a novice writer, someone who isn’t used to working a story out on paper or trying to give voice to characters. No two people in this film have anything unique about the way they talk. Characters are given tics and mannerisms instead of personality. Everything’s overexplained and the technical jargon is thick and stunningly dull. It’s a script that wouldn’t have sold to any studio in town if it had been written by an unknown, and although I admire Spielberg’s desire to push himself further as an artist at this late date in his career, it’s awfully late to just pick up a pen and assume he can deliver a satisfying screenplay, especially when dealing with ideas and emotions as complex as this. To illustrate how clearly he missed the mark, let’s compare this film and E.T., which was scripted by Melissa (KUNDUN) Mathison.
E.T. contains a few references to PETER PAN, and the way it’s textured in as a background to the story being told is sweet, and when it pays off, it’s remarkably effective. For those of you who were raised only on the Disney version and not J.M. Barrie’s original, there’s a pivotal sequence near the end where Tinker Bell is killed, and it’s only the applause of the children listening to the story that brings her back to life. It’s the love of a child that revives her. By having Dee Wallace Stone read that part of the story to Gertie (Drew Barrymore) early on in the film, Mathison gives herself permission to do something that I normally hate in movies: she brings E.T. back from the dead, and it works. Of course, a big part of why it works is the absolute conviction of the child actors in the scene. It’s beautiful stuff, and it still holds up today.
And then there’s A.I. and the much-discussed PINOCCHIO connection. At first, I thought it was almost an exact lift of the method from E.T. The first time any reference is made to Carlo Collodi’s classic story is when Martin wakes up and is brought back into the Swinton house. He’s not pleased with having to share his mother with David, and he begins to exercise his malice in small, measured ways. He picks PINOCCHIO one day and asks her to read it to the both of them, and again, Osment plays just the right notes as he listens with dawning wonder to the story.
But then Spielberg makes a spectacular blunder, and here’s where the film really falls apart. He makes the subtext text continuously for the entire running time. Try and count how many times Osment says “Blue Fairy” or “I wish I was a real boy” in this film. Sarah Maitland and Ian Watson both implored Kubrick not to literally include The Blue Fairy as part of the story, and for a while, Watson was able to steer him in other directions, but Kubrick kept bringing it back to PINOCCHIO and kept insisting on an actual encounter with The Blue Fairy. Spielberg has kept this part of the story front and center, and it goes way beyond grating. By the time Haley Joel finds the Blue Fairy for the third time (yes, the THIRD time), I was bored out of my mind. The film doesn’t work as a fairy tale or a science fiction story, and whatever impact Spielberg was hoping for with these images never materializes.
In fact, there’s no sense of wonder to this film at all, and that may be the most confounding thing about it. This is Steven Spielberg. Working from material by Stanley Kubrick. Both of these men showed us things no other filmmaker could. Reading about the development of the film and the work done by Chris Cunningham (which you can glimpse in the astonishing, ghostly Bjork video “All Is Full Of Love” if you want), it’s apparent that at least at some stage Kubrick toyed with the idea of having a real robot play the lead, and if any director could have pulled that off, it would have been Spielberg. After all, he broke America’s hearts when E.T. died. He could very well have given us an indelible creation in an artificial David that, over the course of the film, became more real than any of the human characters, and that would have paid off thematically in a way that Osment’s performance really can’t. He’s good, but as he becomes more human, I’m not surprised, because he is human. It’s just a matter of scaling back the more mechanical affectations of his performance. It’s not a transformation that we find surprising. If Spielberg and Winston and ILM had worked together to give us a central character who didn’t exist, but who became absolutely real to us by the end of the film, the impact would have been multiplied exponentially. Maybe then this would have been the masterpiece that Spielberg is so obviously reaching for here. Instead, a music video for a Bjork song ends up being the more haunting statement about the potential for real love even among artificial beings, and it manages to top Spielberg in three minutes without any spoken dialogue.
Eventually, David becomes more of a threat then a member of the family. He and Martin are not able to bond at all, competing instead for Monica’s attention and affection. It’s no contest. David is little more to her than an emotional vibrator, a substitute until her real son comes home. She’s casually cruel to David from that point on in a way that children will find deeply distressing to watch. Despite the PG-13, this is not a family-safe film. As an adult, you can watch this and tell yourself that you’re watching a child actor playing a robot character. But for children, all they’re going to really know is that for some reason, everyone is terrible to Haley Joel, and there’s never any reason given. As the cruelty stacks up, it will overwhelm young viewers, and parents should be warned.
I’ll admit that I also find this sequence harrowing because I was adopted. Never knew my birth parents. Don’t know a thing about them. What I do know is this: my parents, the people who adopted me, opened their home and their hearts in equal measure to me, and I was extraordinarily lucky to have that happen. This section of the movie plays like a nightmare version of what it’s like to be adopted into a family where there’s also a biological child present. David sits at the table and watches them eat, something he can’t do. During story time, Martin cuddles with his mother while David sits on the floor across the room. In scene after scene, he is treated terribly. Even so, we understand. He’s never given any real personality. He’s a machine, a wind-up doll that’s been keyed to say “I love you, mommy” and “I’m a boy.” His emotional responses are sudden and random and rarely seem to make sense. When he’s provoked by Martin’s friends at a pool party, he accidentally drags the still-recovering Martin into the deep end of the pool, his arms locked around him, almost drowning Martin.
We’re then given our one glimpse of material directly from the original Brian Aldiss story that started this whole unseemly thing down the road to release, “Supertoys Last All Summer Long.” Here’s an excerpt from that story:
Monica Swinton was up in the nursery. She called to her son once and then stood there, undecided. All was silent.
Crayons lay on his desk. Obeying a sudden impulse, she went over to the desk and opened it. Dozens of pieces of paper lay inside. Many of them were written in crayon in David's clumsy writing, with each letter picked out in a color different from the letter preceding it. None of the messages was finished.
"My dear Mummy, How are you really, do you love me as much -"
"Dear Mummy, I love you and Daddy and the sun is shining -"
"Dear dear Mummy, Teddy's helping me write to you. I love you and Teddy -"
"Darling Mummy, I'm your one and only son and I love you so much that some times -"
"Dear Mummy, you're really my Mummy and I hate Teddy -"
"Darling Mummy, guess how much I love -"
"Dear Mummy, I'm your little boy not Teddy and I love you but Teddy -"
"Dear Mummy, this is a letter to you just to say how much how ever so much -"
Monica dropped the pieces of paper and burst out crying. In their gay inaccurate colors, the letters fanned out and settled on the floor.
Oddly, Spielberg’s inclusion of that moment in the film only underscores how much he seems to have missed the point of the original material. In the story, the nature of David is a mystery to the reader. There’s strong implications as to what he is, but it’s not spelled out. David himself is confused, asking Teddy over and over if he’s real. Those notes to his mother are the halting attempts at expressing something that may not even exist: his love. In Spielberg’s film, Monica reacts with horror to the notes, but there’s no indication as to why. It seems like it’s related more to her sudden decision to take David back to the company that created him so he can be destroyed.
She can’t do it, though. She takes him right up to the driveway of the company, then turns and drives into the woods instead. Here’s the second scene in the film that I feel really did something great, even if it’s contextually unsupported. David is delighted to have his mother to himself for an afternoon, and he begins to play, setting up a blanket for a picnic, getting tangled in it as he tries. He’s just a normal little boy, playing, enjoying, and Monica can’t take it. She tells him that she is leaving him. At first David doesn’t understand, but when he realizes what’s happening, he freaks out.
If there is any one image that will stick with me from A.I., it is David clawing desperately at his mother’s arm, begging her not to leave him. “I’ll love you better!” he says. “I’ll be good! Please, mommy, don’t leave me! I love you! I love you!” It’s as black an image as Spielberg has ever conjured up, and there’s something about it that resonates not with one specific fairy tale, but with all of them. This is Snow White being told by the Huntsman to run. This is Hansel and Gretel, abandoned by their father with no way to get home. It’s the archetypical representation of that moment when we step away from our parents, out into the world, terrified. She finally has to throw David down to get him to let go, and she hurries into her car and drives away, ending the film’s first act and setting us off in a whole new direction.
And then Spielberg makes an awkward decision in the script that underscores again just how unsure he is about what story he’s telling. We cut away from David and the Swintons and Teddy and that whole story to meet Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) at work. He’s dealing with a woman who is obviously involved in a rough physical relationship, her bruises visible around her neck. He says all the right things to her, does all the right things to her. Even so, it’s a PG-13 seduction, and there’s really no reason for us to spend time with Joe on the job. He goes for a stroll, and we see a few other robots in a small, inspecific backlot setting. This is where the alluring Ashley Scott shows up in the outfit that’s had Robogeek drooling for a month or more now, and all she does is walk past the camera. She’s not a character, Robo. Sorry. That photo’s gonna have to be enough for you. Jude goes to another appointment and finds his customer dead. Her jealous boyfriend is in the room, outraged that she had sex with a robot, and I found myself distracted by the casting, thinking, “Hey, that’s that guy from JUST SHOOT ME and GALAXY QUEST. Boy, Dreamworks must like him. He was good in GALAXY QUEST. In fact, GALAXY QUEST is a good little movie. Hey, where’s he going?” Once again, the use of a familiar face makes you think a role is going to add up to something or be a bigger part of the picture, and it’s just not the case. Joe has to go on the run from the law, and he flees into the woods, where he finds David and a number of other robots that have been abandoned, discarded, many of them broken and in pieces. It’s no big deal, the lot of them all hanging out together, until The Moon arrives in the sky overhead.
The Moon is actually a dirigible piloted by Brendan Gleeson as a character I would call The Guy Who Hates Robots. There’s no reason given. The little bit of empty rhetoric he spouts is incredibly vague and unfocused. He just seems to hate robots because they are robots. The robots try to run from The Moon, but it’s too late. He’s brought his neon outfitted TRON/STARLIGHT EXPRESS motorcycle thugs with him, and they ride around for a few minutes in a truly lifeless chase scene that I can’t believe came from the same director as RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and DUEL. There’s not a moment of real tension here. It’s just sound and fury and overdesigned everything. Eventually, they’re all herded up and taken to The Flesh Fair.
Spoilers started leaking about this sequence before anything else, and it’s got to be one of the worst in the film. Ugly, poorly lit, confusingly staged, and pointless, The Flesh Fair is a set piece that goes nowhere. I don’t believe a second of it. Why do the humans hate the machines? Why are so many machines left out in the forest like David was if only David imprints on people with love? Wouldn’t the rest be able to be recycled? Do you take your vacuum cleaner out to the woods and abandon it when you don’t use it anymore? Why is Ministry playing? Why are there TV cameras? Why would anyone need to shoot a robot out of a cannon, and why would anyone want to watch? Why did Chris Rock agree to give voice to the Mr. Jigaboo3000 robot, an ugly Sambo-like thing that seems, like most of the robots we see, to have no practical purpose whatsoever except to let Winston and Ve Neill and Michael Lantieri and the rest of the FX crew show off different designs? Why does one of the technicians conveniently grown a conscience when he meets David? Why does David attach himself to Gigolo Joe? Why do the humans suddenly turn against Brendan Gleeson just because one of the robots looks like a boy? If David’s that powerful a symbol, why isn’t he more famous? Again, there’s a good idea here or there in this scene, like the Nanny bot who responds to the sight of David, offering to take care of him because that’s all she knows how to do, but the entire scene is such a garish cacophany of bad ideas and poor execution that those decent moments are lost. There’s no resolution here, either. David and Joe just get untied from an impossible moment and run off with Teddy in tow.
Oh, yeah... if someone tells you that Teddy is “remarkable” or “hysterical,” they’re overselling you. He is a totally convincing blend of practical and digital effects, seamlessly integrated into the film, and there are a few nice moments with him, but like everything else, Teddy is an idea that Spielberg didn’t know what to do with. He seems like an afterthought in most scenes, a device. He never affects the outcome of the film in any meaningful way (except one, and we’ll get there later), and he doesn’t really interact with David in a way that suggests any bond to us as viewers. He’s a hold-over from the Aldiss story, one that Spielberg doesn’t utilize, and as much as I was impressed by him technically, I would have cut the character from the script.
David continues his techno remix relentless rant about “The Blue Fairy” and “I want to be a real boy” to Joe, and Joe decides that they need to go to Universal Citywalk. I’m sorry... I mean, they need to go to Rouge City, which I gather is supposed to be decadent and dangerous, the perfect place for a sex robot like Joe. There’s nothing decadent or dangerous about Rick Carter’s design of the place, though. It’s just another garish neon nightmare, like a mix of the future Hill Valley and the alternate Hell Valley that Carter designed for BACK TO THE FUTURE 2. It really does look almost exactly like Universal Citywalk, an outdoor tourist mall that’s adjoined to the Universal Studios park here in Los Angeles, but it’s cleaner and nicer, and there’s just a splash more purple and blue light. Again, it’s an opportunity to impress us, and instead Spielberg dwells on lame jokes like having the milk bar from CLOCKWORK ORANGE or a shop called STRANGELOVE’S show up in the background.
Joe and David go to a Dr. Know kiosk, a sort of informational McDonald’s, where Robin Williams does the very annoying voice of an Albert Einstein-ish cartoon character while CGI words swoop around the room. David says “Blue Fairy” about a thousand more times before Dr. Know spits out a poem that Gigolo Joe deciphers, even though there’s no logical way for him to do so. The poem steers them to a submerged Manhattan, where David is convinced he will find the answers and the absolution he seeks. After a pointless little action scene involving an “amphibicopter,” a word I remember because it’s said 50 times in the film, they’re off.
The shots we see of the underwater New York are fairly grand, but we barely see it. Spielberg dwells on the faces of his actors as they overreact in awe to all the amazing greenscreens around them. By now, this shot is one of the Spielberg staples, but I can’t recall another film where he abused it as much as he does here. Both David and Joe sit around slack-jawed as they fly through the city just long enough to show us how goooooood ILM is. Then they solve the riddle with no effort and David goes into a building where he hopes to finally find his answers. He finds the offices of the company that made him, even though I can’t imagine why anyone would have offices in a city that is mostly underwater and cut off from all infrastructure. Inside, he finds another version of himself reading a book, and he goes crazy, screaming, “I’m David! I’m special! I’m unique!” as he smashes his own face in with a lamp. Dr. Hobby (William Hurt) reappears here to tell David that he has passed a wonderful test, and now he is home, and everything is going to be okay.
Wait... actually, there’s another scene of Hobby between the film’s opening, where he proposes building David, and this reunion scene. For some reason, Spielberg feels the need to cut to Hobby for one scene, just to show that he lost his own son, and his son was the obvious physical model that David is based on. It doesn’t pay off, it doesn’t add anything to the film, it doesn’t make us care about Hobby or Osment anymore than we already do (or don’t, as the case may be), so why put it in?
As soon as Hobby finishes telling David how happy he is to have him back, he leaves David alone, and David goes wandering, finding a whole room full of duplicates of himself, already boxed and ready to ship. There are some visual grace notes here, but the scene goes nowhere. Despondent over not being a beautiful and unique snowflake, David decides to blow up some credit card companies... oh, no... wait... getting confused now. David essentially tries to kill himself by dropping from the ledge of the building into the tidal waters below, sinking down into the underwater Manhattan. Some of ILM’s most striking work happens here, but it’s still not really something I’d call new. For all the talk about how the filmmakers had to wait for technology to catch up to this amazing story, there seems to be a shocking paucity of visual imagination on display.
David finally finds his Blue Fairy underwater, a statue at the PINOCCHIO display in a sunken Coney Island fairway, and he takes his amphibicopter (which he makes sure to call an amphibicopter) down to park in front of The Blue Fairy. He sits there, facing the Blue Fairy, in his amphibicopter, and he asks her to make him a real boy.
For 2000 years.
An entire Ice Age happens, and David’s still there, as Ben Kingsley tells us in the painfully expository narration. David just sits in his amphibicopter, staring at the Blue Fairy, wishing to be a real boy. What finally interrupts this meeting of the minds is the arrival of what every other reviewer has called “the aliens.”
But they’re not aliens.
I don’t know this based on the film, even though there is one quick semi-reference if you listen closely. I know this because I’ve been reading articles for the past 12 hours about the development of this film, and the ending always involved highly developed machines, the descendents of David, coming back to find him and rescue him and study him to see where it was they began.
Never mind the fact that they look like the middle ground between the MISSION TO MARS aliens, the ABYSS glowing angels, and the long-necked “parent alien” at the end of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. They are supposed to be highly advanced A.I.s themselves, and Spielberg fails on any level to communicate this clearly. Many audiences will have no idea what to make of what’s happening, even with the kick-you-in-the-adam’s-apple narration and the barrage of technobabble that would embarrass even the most hardened of STAR TREK nerds. This isn’t like 2001, though, where Kubrick trusted the audience to find their own interpretation of events, keeping his own editorial hand fairly invisible. Instead, this is just bad storytelling, with Spielberg allowing some truly majestic FX shots to try and do the job he was unable to do as a director, hoping to smother us in awe since he can’t win us over with what he’s saying. The robots dig David out of the ice, and after he spends another five or ten minutes touching The Blue Fairy, they take him to his house.
The movie comes full circle for this closing section, and there’s no doubt about it: this is one of the worst segments of film in Spielberg’s entire career. Knowing that Dustin Hoffman commandeered large sections of HOOK, driving Spielberg off his own set, I find it hard to blame the horror of that film on him. This time out, there’s no one else you could remotely pin this on. The robots start out talking in subtitled tones that aren’t even words, but that’s abandoned two lines into it as they just start speaking English. David runs around his house for a few minutes yelling “MOMMY?!” before running into... brace yourselves... The Blue Fairy, with a voice by Meryl Streep. She tells him he can’t ever be a real boy, but that they can make anyone come back from the dead if they have hair or fingernails or anything. Teddy conveniently still has a lock of hair from Monica (2000 years earlier) and gives it up so that David can have one last day with his mother.
David’s told that she will only live as long as she stays awake, and that the first time she goes to sleep, she’ll disappear again. The robots talk to him about space-time pathways and limited time and a lot of hooey that is all a distraction from what should be our focus: David and the end of his emotional arc. In the end, they resurrect David’s mother, and they spend a day together. She says “I love you” before going to sleep, so he curls up in bed with her, and all the lights in the house go out. The end. It’s over. And that’s all we get.
”Oooh,” I can hear some of you saying already. “It’s ambiguous. It’s mysterious. Levels of meaning.” Nonsense. It’s a non-ending. It’s bereft of anything like a resolution. And it’s not a brain teaser like 2001 was. That ending, one of my very favorite in all of film history, makes perfect sense, and even the first time I saw it, I got the general beats even though I was nine years old. With this film, there’s nothing to get. David’s story doesn’t end with him having some creepy Oedipal fling with his mother for just one afternoon. That’s not a conclusion. That’s not “about” anything. Despite the best efforts of John “wall to wall” Williams and his insistently overbloated score, we don’t feel anything about that last image. It is, like this movie, adrift without any idea as to its own meaning.
If you want to play the comparison game of what is versus what might have been, you can find a fair amount of good A.I. information out there online. Hell, this month’s PLAYBOY features two new stories by Brian Aldiss that expand upon his classic original “Supertoys.”
Let me warn you, though, that comparing what might have been to what is will only leave you depressed. This has been one of the least enjoyable reviews I’ve ever had to write, for the very simple reason that I wanted this movie to be special. I walked in with faith in my heart and as little advance knowledge as possible in my head. I opened myself up wide to the experience, trusting in Spielberg, and I feel like I got kicked in the teeth for my efforts. This film will be defended by the blindly faithful this summer, those who are unwilling to admit that such talented people are capable of such collossal missteps, but it’s important to remember that it’s only when you aim for something amazing that you can miss this completely. I do not fault Spielberg one bit for his ambition in approaching this film.
I just wish I liked the end result.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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June 21, 2001, 9:11 a.m. CST
I've got to admit, as a father of twins, simply reading about the scene where David is abandoned by his mother had me pretty close to tears, so I guess I'm still going to have to see this movie. And in a world where all we seem to be getting is movies of computer games,even a little manipulative emotional tugging is better than braindead fireworks.
June 21, 2001, 9:12 a.m. CST
by Henry Fool
Many people regarded Space Odyssey as being a deeply flawed film when it was released because they didn't understand it. Woody Allen went so far as to say that he didn't like when he first saw it and later realized that that was the first time that he'd seen a film by a film maker who was simply operating on a deeper level than he was and therfore beyond his understanding. From the reviews I've read, AI seems to be a thought piece that is not focused on simply entertaining. Moriarty may well be right that the film is a dissappointment. But it's entirely possible that he just needs to see the movie again. After all, this is a guy who gave the initial footage of Tomb Raider a sparkling review and few will argue that the film wasn't a piece of shit masquerading as entertainment.
June 21, 2001, 9:17 a.m. CST
by jak flash 2000
I am not reading all that just yet. I saw the part saying that the film was an interesting dissapointment. Well might I remind all that this is more or less Kubricks last film. And Kubrick work is always apreciated years after its release and rareley before then. I use Eyes Wide Shut as an example. Saw it at the time, one of the best films I have ever seen. But, the crittics sure as heckfire didnt think so. But now when you loo at it, it is ahead of its time so much so that we see the early igns of the slowly deteriating relationship between Cruise and Kidman. If its not good when I see it then I will revisit this film in a few yeras and find that I much enjoy it. To see my review section please visit www.thakksy.co.uk . A good day to all and to all a good day.
June 21, 2001, 9:19 a.m. CST
Why?Why?Why? Why did you hate it mor why? This is our only hope for the last word of the master himself, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? I am just gonna go and kill me self now, happy?
June 21, 2001, 9:31 a.m. CST
As Moriarty thinks of A.I., it doesn't work as a film. The biggest problem is that they chose to tell the story from the point of view of a character, Cinque, who is powerless for 2/3rds of the movie. The most compelling scenes of the film are the early ones, where he's leading the slave revolt. After that he's captured and is powerless to make any decisions, which neutralizes him as a dramatic element in the story. Thus, Spielberg had to jump around between different protagonists, Matthew MCConaughey's lawyer, Hopkins John Q. Adams, Morgan Freeman's abolitionist, and manufacture embarrasing moments like the "Give us, us free" scene to give Cinque something to do. The result is a confused and ineffectual story. Although certain prominent black filmmakers might have disagreed, that story should have been from the POV of the white lawyers, because they are the ones who had to make the dramatic choices. Of course that would have made it like a hundred other courtroom dramas but, that's the bottom line. Always doesn't work either. The biggest problem there -- Dreyfus's character comes across as a jerk, and when he's dead, we never feel strongly enough his desire to be back in the world of the living. This is the one thing Ghost got very right.
June 21, 2001, 9:33 a.m. CST
by Brian 2000
June 21, 2001, 9:34 a.m. CST
by Heywood Jablowme
Hey, it could be worse, it could be Tomb Raider. Come on, this is going to be the only decent film this summer, at least until August, W/Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. Don't even mention JP 3, what the hell's the point in that (besides the obvious drive for money)? AI sounds like a refreshing calm in the middle of explosions, tits, and "buy the soundtrack and movie tie-ins" that usually accompany summer.
June 21, 2001, 9:34 a.m. CST
by drew mcweeny
I knew it was going to be this way immediately. "He didn't understand it." "People never understand Kubrick movies up front." Did you go look at my review of EYES WIDE SHUT on this site? My unqualified adoration of the film upon first viewing? And this is NOT a Kubrick film. No matter what, no matter how long he worked on it, in the end, it is not a Kubrick film. It doesn't have any of the emotional complexity or resonance of a Kubrick film. And I understood it just fine. Part of the problem is that it makes all of its points in the first 45 minutes, then spends the whole film making them over and over again. SEE THE FILM before you start telling me that I didn't get it. And to the guy who thinks he's clever bringing up the TOMB RAIDER stuff, it's lovely how you didn't bother mentioning my final review of the film. You can distort my opinion all you want, and you can resist hearing what I had to say about A.I. all you want, but many of you will feel the same, and when you do, remember where you heard it first.
June 21, 2001, 9:36 a.m. CST
Don't get me wrong, I've liked some of his movies, and when they are good...they are amazing. But they were not always good, and I have known for ages that this movie would blow. I think Spielberg is the better film maker, but the two styles just don't mix. For some reason film snobs have convinced themselves that Spielberg has changed since the seventies...he has not. They convince themselves that Jaws is something it is not. It is NOT an art film since it is trendy to like it these days (and yes, it is one of my favorite films of all time). Jaws is a big action/suspense spectacle movie. That is what Spielberg makes. I hate it when people say, "spielberg has the chance to get back to his roots as a film maker." He has grown since Jaws, and is unquestionably a better film maker now (Schindler's List). So...what we have is two of the all time greats colaborating on a film...and it sucks...why? Because they make different kinds of movies. And they have BOTH made SHIT before..(Eyes Wide Shut, Lost World).
June 21, 2001, 9:40 a.m. CST
Any movie that leaves the mind wondering..is obviously a movie that will be classic. Many people don't know what to expect when they are going into A.I. Moriarty obviously thought that he'd be going into a family film that would bring back memories of E.T. That's why I think some people are going to be disapointed. I'm looking for a haunting and sad story. I don't expect a warm lovey feeling...I want to wonder in my mind what I just saw. I know when I have to think of a film afterwords...It's gotta be good!! People worry that the vision of the future isn't correct with the neon lighted cities and "Tron" like outfits. But it's not intended to be correct. It's a futuristic fairy tale!! Fairy tales set in the past are not historically correct for that reason....they are fairy tales! As is the same for the vision of the A.I. future. It's not intended to be an accurate vision...but a setting for a fantasy dark fairy tale story. When I see the film...I will have to use my own judgement. Plus, I'm not a big Kubrick fan (other than Full Metal Jacket). If the film seems more like Speilberg and has his "Speilbergian" styles...I can't wait for this film. I will see this film as soon as it comes out and judge for myself. And I will review it as a fan..but will give my honest opinion as well.
June 21, 2001, 9:40 a.m. CST
Was one that most 'so-called' critics made: they had over-blown expectations. And Moriarity can say whatever he wants about the movie, the fact is he was expecting Kubrick, when in fact this is a Spielberg movie. It's sad really, people like Moriarity become so jaded that they are unable to simply sit back and enjoy a movie like this.
June 21, 2001, 9:42 a.m. CST
by jak flash 2000
HA! The big M replying to the talk backs. If it is the Real Moriarty then what a hoot. M is right though. It isnt Kubricks film. But, thats not to say that Spielberg isnt a good director, but he aint got nothing on the excellent Kubrick. Who knows, this might be on of the first legendery disscussions of one of the greatest flops ever made. Afte all the Berg didnt impress anyone with Hook did he? Nice try though. I just see this film before I judge it. And to M's defence. Though I am unsure of his current opinion of Tomb Raider (I assume you dislkie?) Morairty only saw a test print of some sort (I think). Good day to all.
June 21, 2001, 9:51 a.m. CST
by Fatal Discharge
But then again, you liked Amistad ? Hmmmmm. Oh well, I don't really like Clockwork Orange so...different tastes for different folks. From your descriptions though (depressing, unlikeable, inegmatic) this sounds EXACTLY like a Kubrick film. And your writeup also reminded me of Blade Runner - robots and humans disliking each other, voiceovers, weird endings, etc. That film was badly reviewed when it first opened too.
June 21, 2001, 9:54 a.m. CST
by drew mcweeny
I did not expect a Kubrick film. He is, after all, dead. I did not expect a family film like E.T. What I expected was a coherent piece of film that delivered on whatever premise it set up. I walked in without expectations beyond that, and it was on that level that the film failed. No other. Now stop putting words in my mouth and thoughts in my head.
June 21, 2001, 9:54 a.m. CST
I really liked Hook. Still do.
June 21, 2001, 9:57 a.m. CST
Hey Moriarty, is it at all possible that, as one talk back mentioned, you were expecting a totally different movie than what you saw? You mention other movies, ie. ET, and how they worked versus AI and how it did not. Also, will you see the movie again when it opens? If so, please post your thoughts on seeing it a second time. I can't stand the thought of another disappointing movie. However, I will still see it. Thanks.
June 21, 2001, 9:59 a.m. CST
The best thing about this site is not that people tell you weather they like a movie or not, it's that they tell you why. You can read why they liked it or didn't, then decide if you want to see it or not. For example, Harry liked Fast and Furious, but I don't think I would. Mori didn't like AI, but I think I will. This site beats the shit out of commercials because they only say it's great, or I loved it, without justifying it. It's the justification that matters.
June 21, 2001, 10:01 a.m. CST
June 21, 2001, 10:04 a.m. CST
by dexter cornell
The man couldn't make quality if his life depended on it. I respect Spielberg's attempt at a memorial, but Stanley was just highly overrated. Full Metal Jacket was nice the first hour, but then it turned to shit. Shining, not bad, but wayy too long. He's made overrated movie, one after the other, and now Steve's trying to emmulate him, what da' fuck is that about?! I didn't want to see this as soon as I read it's based on Kubrick's idea, and now I'm satisfied to know that it reflects every other Kubrick film, substandard. All you fanboys need another director to drool over, cuz this guys is a hack, dead or alive. dex out
June 21, 2001, 10:08 a.m. CST
I always held my adoration for Always from others, because people didn't seem to like it as much as I. I didn't see his being a jerk as a bad point of the movie. In fact, I thought it was the point. He could accept being dead, he just couldn't let go of Dorinda, which is what was making him a real jerk, and hurting Dorinda. When he did let go (in the airplane, scene that still leaves me blubbering like a little girl), then the release came, for Hunter and Dreyfuss. And since I'm on it too, another movie head and shoulders above ghost is Truly, madly, Deeply. As for AI? I really hope the big M was over hyped on it. Actually his review may make the movie seem better for me, he has tempered my excitement for it so if I get anything from it I'll be happy. ZB
June 21, 2001, 10:24 a.m. CST
Kubrick's legacy is over. He's dead. It died with him. I think this film is more Spielberg's than Kubricks. And although I'm somewhat dis-enchanted with Mor's review, I'll probably see it anyway. The visuals look interesting enough for me. I'm going to form my own opinion. I'm going to have faith in Spielberg. I suggest everyone else do the same. At least the premise is more original than Tomb Raider, or any other schlock out there right now. And may I make a critical suggestion Mor? Please write a review, not a novel.
June 21, 2001, 10:32 a.m. CST
If this review is close, then that totally sucks. Momento is the ONLY good film I've seen all year. What the f***? Planet of the Apes looks dumb too. I though last year's films were weak...is there any hope for this year at all?
June 21, 2001, 10:33 a.m. CST
M, you got balls of mithril for laying it on the line like that... when exactly did hollywood lose everything? *Sigh* I suppose this will be one of those that I download and watch at home in the next week or so... no point in going to the theater supporting the system. You must be VERY disappointed to be posting responses like this in talkback. My condolences. Get the hell out of here, you're too good of a reviewer to waste your time fuming over the people in talkback who throw shit on all movies regardless of their merit. Go grab your DVDs of Kubrick's best and enjoy those. Go to some art-house cinema and see a movie you never even heard of before. Relax. Thanks for breaking the damn open.
June 21, 2001, 10:34 a.m. CST
...is the fact that the depths of idiocy herein manage to CONTINUE to astound me again, and again, and again...
June 21, 2001, 10:37 a.m. CST
Its funny how some of the people on this chat can critisize a director when they have never directed a movie in their whole entire life, we all know people once in a while put out bad movies, kubrick (eyes wide shut, speilburg (the lost world) but you cannot expect these guys to make top notch movies every single time, and you guys are bashing A.I. when most of you assholeshavent even seen the damn movie and when you do your going to have a totally different outlook on it just because you guys have a stick up your ass about the movie right now doesnt mean that your going to have it once the credits in the movie role, so if your trying to act all big and bad about a certain movie....dont talk until youve seen it because frankly no one gives a shit .later.
June 21, 2001, 10:37 a.m. CST
Once again, I don't understand why people feel the need to have expectations for a film. Why can't people just walk into a theatre, not expecting a Kubrick, not expecting a Spielberg, not expecting an Oscar-winner or a Razzie-loser or an eye-opener or a snoozer or a pice of gold or a pice of crap. Just, walk into a theatre, and expect to see only one thing: A FILM. That should be the only thing you should expect to get. That way, your expectations are filled, and you'll enjoy yourself that much more. Now, how the film influences you to likeing it or not likeing it is up to you after you see it. But then it will be an HONEST dislikeing or likeing- one not hampered by petty expectations. That's what I think. But I'm just rambling.
June 21, 2001, 10:37 a.m. CST
...so what the hell does he know? Any review that long has to have been for something worthwhile ( I didn't read it ).
June 21, 2001, 10:44 a.m. CST
by Invisible Loki
Go Moriarty! Thank you for a review that simply delineates exactly where Spielberg failed in his attempt to helm the runaway train of overblown expectation and conjecture that is A.I.. While you weren't the first the point out the film's vacuity, (both Shenjanno of geeksonfilm.com and the Slant magazine review on rottentomatoes.com panned A.I. earlier this week), you undoubtedly won't be the last.
June 21, 2001, 10:47 a.m. CST
As a fan of both Kubrick and Spielberg, I worked my to the top of the AICN homepage with escalating anticipation. Thanks for the kick in the ass, Mori, it didn't push me over a cliff but it certainly rolled me down a hill. I will still see this movie and form my own opinion but not with the same sense of urgency I held previously.
June 21, 2001, 10:47 a.m. CST
Damn, I don't wanna be severely depressed, I have been waiting for this film all damned summer long, ever since April, I have been sweeped into the hypnotic eye candy, and the elegant story and characters, and I thought once I saw this movie, I would be in film perfection heaven. I haven't felt that since I saw The Iron Giant. Damn, Moriarty, you hafta be wrong! This is the ONE and ONLY movie I ever wanted to see this summer!! Damn, it has to be good!!!!!!!..it hasta..(sniff)...
June 21, 2001, 10:50 a.m. CST
June 21, 2001, 10:50 a.m. CST
June 21, 2001, 10:56 a.m. CST
by drew mcweeny
No, I didn't walk in with 2001 tucked under my arm, hoping to compare it to this film. A.I. is an epic sci-fi film that is divided into three clear acts, the last one dealing in imagery that is largely abstract, making it an almost direct mirror of 2001's structure. The comparisons are valid AFTER seeing the film. That's when I made them. Not before.
June 21, 2001, 10:57 a.m. CST
First of all, let me ask you one simple question: Do you really think that giving out the whole polot of a movie IN DETAIL makes your review better? Yes, it allows you to point out more things that you liked or disliked, but this is suposed to be a review. Not an essay, not a companion commentary. Now, I steered clear of the latter part of your text because I actually want to see the film without knowing every little detail (despite the fact that I've read the ending a long time ago, long before spielberg was involved and just right after Kubrick died and I think it is verry fitting and thought-provoking in the usual Kubrick fashion). However, I need to point out a couple of points from earlier parts of the movie that I believe you're wrong about. Firstly, about the horrified look on Francis O'Connor when she imprints David on her. Well, David is essentially a toaster, a machine and he calls her mommy and loves her. I don't know about you, but I think any normal person would find this hard to accept and, yes, even terrifying. Secondly, about Brendan Gleeson's character hating robots for no apparent reason. There's a word for these persons, they are called racists. Do you think KKK members have a reason for hating blacks?
June 21, 2001, 10:59 a.m. CST
Thanks to Mori for that great review! I will have to wait a few months before i will finally be able to see it for myself (they have to show it at the Venice film festival before it can open in Europe - sigh!) so it was a relief to get the whole story rolled out in front of me. After all this months of online teasing, mystery sites and hype i finally know what it is all about. Wow so it is a disappointment. I will see it anyway but at least i will go in expecting exactly what i will get. No disappointment that way. And let us all pity those geeks who spent days and weeks of their lives on the A.I. mystery trail. Wasted time!
June 21, 2001, 11:01 a.m. CST
Has Spielberg lost touch with the family audience? That's what I'm asking myself after reading M.'s review.
June 21, 2001, 11:18 a.m. CST
I mean come on!! These guys have no clue sometimes. The only reviewer I respect is Ebert. Mojority will be among the thousand of reviews coming back later this summer saying this movie is a classic.
June 21, 2001, 11:20 a.m. CST
I was interested in this review when I saw it advertised on the first page. When I clicked in and scrolled down to see how much text I gasped. As a writer myself I know that a pitfall of writers is normally, "too many words." This review is a victim of someone who does not know what he wants to say and how to say it. In response his review goes on, and on, and on, and on with no signs of relenting. I am a Spielberg fan, except for Hook and Always he has done no wrong, IMHO. The fact that A.I. has generated this huge response [above] says to me that it's a film worth seeing. Lastly I'd like to point out how odd it is that the reviewer is telling us the readers that this film is a dissapointment, as if we should all take his word on it and skip it. I'd like to read a mature and well written review on this site once in a while. There's always hope. James M. Prater
June 21, 2001, 11:21 a.m. CST
...based on an idea by Roger O'Brannigan. Who? No one - no one at all. Because of the names attached, certain expectations are going to be sitting in the seats right next to film fans and insiders. First - Moriarity - a wonderful piece. Bravo. You obviously put a lot of thought and work into it, but I have a simple question for you. How will A.I. play to somone who doesn't know or really care who S and K are/were? Based on your review, I think it will play very well indeed. You admit some of the visuals are amazing. There are some very "heartstring" moments. The little bit of the soundtrack I've heard sounds great and I trust Williams to deliver for 2.5 hours. It sounds like the Thinkers in the audience will come out discussing the problems sentient AIs will have in a human world, and the Emotionals will come out wiping away a tear because David finally got what we wanted all along - confirmation of his mother's love. Like the Enigma above - your review re-doubled my desire to see this film. I enjoy and respect both Spielberg and Kubrick, but I'm not "in love" with either man - just some of their work. From what I've read, this is a film that will contain elements of what I've admired about both. At two and a half hours, maybe a "Phantom Edit" will help tighten the film (fewer mentions of the word "ambiacopter"), but I have the feeling that this movie will have my brain swimming in both images and questions for a long time to come. And *that* is the mark of a wonderful film in my book, no matter who's names are attached to it.
June 21, 2001, 11:23 a.m. CST
by Barry Champlain
Whatever! I hate people who have to overanalyze a movie so everyone knows just how smart they THINK they are.You either liked it or you didnt! Shutup and move on with your life. I love movies and I know I will love this one...because every movie offers something different. Even the worst ones have something I appreciate. Im so tired of long winded, convoluted reviews like this one....if your so damn smart Moriarty...when is your next Academy Award winning film coming out?
June 21, 2001, 11:32 a.m. CST
You know...I don't usually get in to these sort of arguments..but I believe MORIARTY gave his honest opinion. Why is everybody giving him crap? Huh? Pointing out little flaws in his review? Him comparing A.I. to other movies..come on idiots..It's his opinion and he's seen the movies which is more than any of you fanboys can brag about so shut your faces. Why would he say the movie is a dissapointment if it's a good movie? We've all respected his opinion before so why not now? Why, because he's bashing something that Kubric wrote and had next to nothing to do with the movie? Well wine on then..it's actually kind of funny! GO MORIARTY post back and rip them a new one! YAHOO!!
June 21, 2001, 11:44 a.m. CST
It's funny how people want to read reviews, and come to a site like this that contains reviews, then bitch about the reviews they get. If Moriarty had written a one paragraph review basically just saying that he didn't like the movie, everyone would call him to task for writing a non-review. Instead he clearly outlines what, in HIS opinion, works and doesn't work in the film and why, and he gets lambasted for being too wordy and thinking he is smarter than everyone else. What exactly do you people want? Obviously you don't want an honest opinion, so why do you read them? If you don't want to read a review, you don't have to; there is no reason to insult a reviewer for taking their time to give you some perspective on the movie before it comes out. I plan on going and seeing this movie, and hope that it is better than what Mori says it is. I thank him though, for giving us his honest opinion on the movie and think that you all should take some time and gain perspective on what you're ranting about before you start off on your little tirades: in this case, an early look at a highly anticipated movie, brought to you for free in the comfort of your home (or office, in my case). Calm down.
June 21, 2001, 12:01 p.m. CST
That is to say that I aborted reading it as soon as I learned that MO intended to spoil the movie for me. There truly is no Santa Claus when someone who claims to be a "film critic" can't engage in a discussion of cinematic production without revealing the whole story behind the film. There is a certain convention of profession journalism that is being overlooked here, Moriarty. Perhaps I will read your review AFTER I have had the chance to see the film and draw my own conclusions when it is released to the rest of us citizens.
June 21, 2001, 12:13 p.m. CST
It seems like Moriarty is really getting a kick out of being the bearer of bad tidings on this. I mean, not only did write a spoiler filled review before the movie comes out (which is not something he "likes" to do normally), and secondly he hangs around the messageboard after the fact to see what kind of shit storm he's stirred up. Wasn't your review long enough to defend itself evil one? I respect his opinions for the most part, but it's certainly not above him to reverse them. I don't think its unfair to point out his Tomb Raider reversal. I understand that the stuff that he first commented on was in no way complete. But it seemed like his actual review was one long excuse for reversing himself. Maybe he should spend more time thinking about how to effectively express his opinions and less time worrying about what "talkbackers" are going to think about him. Once again, I respect his opinions, but they are only that....opinions. I'll judge for myself, or at least get my review information from a site like rotten tomatoes where they do review comparisons.
June 21, 2001, 12:15 p.m. CST
having just seen a screening, but here I find Moriarty has made the very same points I'd have made, and a few dozen more. "Heartbreak" is the right word. Call it "A.E." for artificial emotion. I'm too damned drained from disappointment to go on.
June 21, 2001, 12:16 p.m. CST
Big shout out to Mr Pink and Enigma!!! You tell 'em! Mori, thanks for the thought and effort, but personally (and I emphasize THIS IS JUST ME) I was going to wait for video anyway. Why? Because what I've heard of AI so far reeks of Bicentennial Man. After watching BM (hmm, initials a coincidence?) in the theatre, I came away thinking "Damn, that's 130 minutes of my life I'm never getting back!". And to the idiot who suggested Spielberg lost touch with family- WTF does ET have to do with AI? I've heard they have different actors, soundtracks, hell I hear they are even 2 DIFFERENT STORIES! These talkbacks often remind me of the Seinfeld where he heckles the heckler on his job. I'd love to see Spielberg show up at the McDonalds where some of these fanboys work and lean over their shoulder and yell "You call that a BIG MAC! That's SHIT! and, and you're shit too! Kubrick is the Big Mac MASTER you little punk!" ...wait a minute, was that all out loud?
June 21, 2001, 12:18 p.m. CST
by The Founder
After seeing the disappointing Tomb Raider I've said it before and I'm going to say it again JP3 AND RUSH HOUR 2 will be our last best hopes for the summer.
June 21, 2001, 12:18 p.m. CST
I'm just going tp throw caution to the wind now and see all the movies I want to see regardless of what anyone says! (As if I've never done that all before!) I am going to see AI, Tomb Raider, Atlantis, Jurassic Park 3, and Planet of the Apes. Why? Because I want to. I want to make my own judgements about these movies. All I have been given from people are conflicting opinions of the movies I've had on my Must Watch List and I've had enough. But anyway, I think AI will be interesting.
June 21, 2001, 12:22 p.m. CST
Please note that the book versions of both The Shinning and A Clockwork Orange (especially the later) are FAR superior to the films....so Stanley isn't that good. And don't even get me started on the 2nd half of JACKET. A good director takes a medicore story like Do Androids Dream etc. and turns it into Blade Runner.
June 21, 2001, 12:27 p.m. CST
Who here thinks that Spielberg sees A.I. as a piece of crap film, that never quite worked?
June 21, 2001, 12:30 p.m. CST
by Wee Willie
And I'm calling this a Kubrick film because he was so heavilly involved with it's development -- is that whenever they are released the critical reception is always split. There's still idiots around who say 2001 was boring and "unemotional", same with the brilliant Eyes Wide Shut. You get from a film what you put in. This is one review out of millions that will be written about A.I. Personally, I've found that the films Moriarty and Harry tend to like are films I tend to HATE (in general, exceptions abound). For example, Gladiator, which was the cause de celebre of this site, was a total, mindless wank. The only thing that really bothers me about this review is that I have to wait A WEEK to see the film and decide for myself. I'm glad there's been bad reviews. Eyes Wide Shut got lots of bad reviews, so did some Spielberg films that I loved (Hook, Always, Color Purple). Bad reviews means DEBATE. Debate means people are thinking. People thinking means... Well, it means more debate. And so the dialectic wheel spins... But as for anyone saying Kubrick is overrated, check the reviews over the years. Usually his films are panned by critics who just want to see nice, neat literary adaptations like the godawful English Patient. I'm just rambling now, so I'll shut up.
June 21, 2001, 12:31 p.m. CST
I wouldn't presume to know the mind of Spielberg...
June 21, 2001, 12:35 p.m. CST
Since when is a movie great because most people don't understand it? I've never heard BS like the Woody Allen flip flop, first hating 2001, then realizing that he didn't like because he didn't understand it? The point is , there are a lot of complicatied films out there that simply aren't good films, and as a matter of fact, are not enjoyable to watch. The fact that they are complicated or hard to understand, in itself doesn't make them great. And as M points out, not directly talking about Kubrick, if your not telling the story in a comprehensible way, then maybe your not telling the story the way it should be told. What makes a great film is pretty simple: a great story combined with great images. Kubrick probalbly is overrated, and not all who think so are fans of the Mummy or Tomb Raider. However, you'll never get the elitists and snobs to admit it.
June 21, 2001, 12:44 p.m. CST
2001 is nothing more than a DaDa painting brought to life. So empty and void that people HAVE to see something there, which isn't. It's got some nice visuals and the 2nd half is entertaining, but overall it's bunk. I would like to hear anybody give a symbolic or synoptic view of the film that isn't guilty of non-sequitor.
June 21, 2001, 12:45 p.m. CST
You're right Tom. I don't presume to know what goes on in his head either. However, I did read a comment from him about the film that made him sound quite proud of it.
June 21, 2001, 12:50 p.m. CST
Man this is depressing...first TPM is a bag of shit and now THIS. I've been hyped for this film for so long - I desperately wanted Kubrick to make it way before he bothered with EWS. How far along could the script have been if Spielberg mostly wrote it himself? What were all those years in development spent doing? If the problem is with the original adaptation itself I don't see how even Kubrick could have made a good film out of it, but if the fuck-up is down to Spielberg he needs to start remembering some things he used to know pretty damn well.
June 21, 2001, 12:50 p.m. CST
Wah, Haley Joel Osment isn't an actual robot Wah, this isn't E.T. Wah, some really hot chick in the promo pics isn't a real character. As I read through this "review" the more I liked the idea of this movie and the less I trusted this site. By the way Knights Tale was the first movie I ever walked out on THANK YOU AICN!
June 21, 2001, 12:53 p.m. CST
are they on the net? ive already read "supertoys"someone please post or email me if you know where they can be found. DIG
June 21, 2001, 1:14 p.m. CST
This reminds me of Weird Al Yankovic's quote on the making of "UHF": "With this film we were trying to record a series of images which, when played back, would give the illusion of movement. And on that level, I think we succeeded." Yes, I expect the projector to work and that I'm just going to see A FILM, but I also expect a MINIMUM level of quality. Cheers to Moriarty for discussing in detail why the film does and does not work - though I'd be interested to hear why he likes Spielberg at all, based on his disappointment in Hook and A.I. (Not slamming Moriarty's review; just wondering if he could provide commentary on Jaws, E.T. and other supposed "classics" of Spielberg.
June 21, 2001, 1:20 p.m. CST
June 21, 2001, 1:22 p.m. CST
I find it amazing that so many people care THIS MUCH about a movie - what have any of you invested in this movie? As of right now, nothing - except that which you willingly gave of yourselves - your time and your devotion to the IDEA of this film - certainly not to the film itself, since, until recently, it only existed as an idea, a concept. But in the end, it is still simply a film - 2 1/2 hours of time spent with images and sound coming from a screen. Now, I can understand the interest in a film like LOTR, since many people have invested hours and hours reading the books - but this makes no sense - except that I HAVE A THEORY - its just like sex - the pre-production time is foreplay - "will they make the film or not? who will star? what will the script be like?" Then comes the sex act - the filming - now we are building to something definite and concrete - we see pictures from the set (oooooo...that feels nice), hear reports of budget overruns (oh baby!!) and interviews (uuggghhh!! yeah!!) - then come the teasers, the trailers and the commercials - now we are really building to something (oh! oh! oh!...) and finally come the climax - the film itself (ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!.....zzzzzz). So what is wrong with that? I'll tell you - sex (at least the western notion of it - not tantric) is built around the orgasm - the orgasm defines the experience - if the orgasm is crappy, then the overall experience feels wasted - so fanboys put all this pseuado-sexual effort into following a films production, then have all this invested when it finally comes out. And so, a situation like AI is like prom-night sex, wedding night sex, or sex with that really high priced hooker that you've been saving up for since you were 12. If it sucks, it sucks even worse because of the expectation. And what is really interesting is that all this following of pre-release details can't possibly increase the enjoyment of the film itself. I clearly remember my four favorite filmgoing experiences - Schizopolis, The Usual Suspects, Orgazmo and Pulp Fiction - films of varying quality which I loved because they surprised the shit out of me - they were like that time you were drunk at a party, found some girl and while ou were outside, she just dropped to her knees and blew you (well, maybe that only happened to me...) - the surprise made it more enjoyable. I am not saying that following film production is a bad thing (we all love you Harry!!) - but rather that to do so in an effort to prolong the filmgoing experience is futile and will never result in a better experience - I say go in raw, without any expectations - and in general you will find yourself pleasantly surprised..................Be Seeing You
June 21, 2001, 1:36 p.m. CST
You made me wait up for negativity? I thought you were only going to give it the shoulder shrug of death!! Damn you!!
June 21, 2001, 1:38 p.m. CST
by The Yattering
If you're scrolling down the talkbacks looking for one from someone else who has seen it, stop here. I saw the picture at the same DGA screening. There is not one frame of this movie that has anything but Steven Spielberg's worst sentimental impulses stamped all over it. The reason I'm adding my voice to the fray is to stand up and applaud Moriarty's willingness to speak the truth about a movie that has already been "given a pass" by legitimate critics like Newsweek's David Ansen and most disturbingly, the only voice of reason you can usually trust - Variety's Todd McCarthy. McCarthy's review is the first seriously troubling reminder that we live in a culture where serious film criticism is by and large dead. Moriarty's review, on the other hand, is one hundred percent accurate. I feel as if, or any of the five people I saw the movie with, could have written it - though not written it so well. All five people were adults with sophisticated though commercial tastes. They all loathed and despised it. A few actually left quickly after the film, so as not to have to grind their molars while listening to anyone who may have bought into it. I've read that some talkbackers don't like the fact that Moriarty's review is lengthy. Be sure to avoid any serious film criticism, then, if you can find it. The New Yorker is a huge no-no for you. Even McCarthy's review may tax your patience. And when you see the movie, you may not agree with Moriarty's opinion. That's okay. Movies can be culturally important or successful, and appealing to you. Or you may the one of the few who can see through culturally important or successful movies, and see them for what they truly are and will come to be regarded as in the future (e.g. Roberto Begnini or Marisa Tomei's Oscar.) This is called being right. And history will show that Moriarty is sadly right and McCarthy is outrageously wrong about this movie. We are all the worse for having so few critical opinions to steer the culture, perhaps in part because there are so few consumers left in the audience with the reading level, genuine interest and patience to seek those critcs out and reward them with a considerate and thoughtful read. I'm grateful that Moriarty is still engaging movies with this level of active passion and writing talent, and that he has a pulpit from which to speak. He will be vindicated in a year, when Entertainment Weekly publishes their "What Were We Thinking?" review of the A.I. dvd, and the movie has come to rest near the bottom of Spielberg's otherwise historically unprecedented filmography. So go check it out next Friday, and if you think he's right come back and say so in another talkback. If you like the movie and think he's wrong, please don't come to Los Angeles and try to make more like it. The freeways are already clogged with hacks and bullshit movies masquerading as classics. Just like...A.I.
June 21, 2001, 1:40 p.m. CST
If you love Kubrick, Spielberg did a nice hat's off, final farewell. If you hate him, you've just been fucked in the ass by a ghost. Ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha....! Senatah Beetlejuice loves you!
June 21, 2001, 1:46 p.m. CST
is more like it, Flap. The problem is you're confusing your subjective opinion with cold facts. So you're supposed to be the "uber-afficianado"? Is that why you spew so much venom at fanboys, because no one else wants to listen to your one-sided rants? Guess what ego-boy: you didn't write the Good/Bad movie Bible that everyone must consult before we can watch a movie. Go fix me another Big Mac, loser...
June 21, 2001, 1:50 p.m. CST
I can't tell if I'm more angry at Moriarty for writing this or disappointed in myself for reading yet another depressing, spoiler-filled, film-wrecking, cynical piece of shit review. I've frequently wondered why certain films dont fill me with the same wonder I felt when I was younger. I've figured it out, I think and come to a decision... I'm finished with spoilers and over-long, bitter reviews. I want to get back to a place where I can walk into a theatre to see LOTR, Episode II, The new Wes Anderson flick, or even Minority Report and experience a film without this posion shooting through my brain. I'm afraid it's too late for that with AI, but I'm through making the same mistakes.
June 21, 2001, 1:50 p.m. CST
June 21, 2001, 1:51 p.m. CST
I feel sorry for Spielberg. The man has made some good films in the past (E.T., CLOSE ENCOUNTERS). He has also made some really bad movies in his time (LOST WORLD, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN). That is fine. Not every film can be an instant classic. Not every film is going to be a masterpiece. And like I said, I feel sorry for the guy. He has become so hyped and so highly rated that before people even see the movie they have it stuck in thier head that it is going to be awesome. I have been watching the talkbacks for this movie closely for the last couple of weeks and it amazes me that people so adamantly defend this movie without seeing it. Does the fact that Spielberg's name is on the movie make it great. No. This is Spielberg trying to be like Kubrick. Now, I'm not saying that either one is better than the other. Its irrelevant. When a director tries to be like another, to finish a film, or whatever, it doesn't work. Both Kubrick and Spielberg are good directors (good artists too) but, they aren't enough alike to finish each other's work. Kubrick wouldn't be able to finish a Spielberg movie. What would happen if Spielberg had passed away halfway through E.T.? Kubrick would involve the alien in a sex-crime. But, that is not the point of this. Talkbackers who support Spielberg blindly and wholeheartedly are getting upset over someone else's opinion. I could say E.T. was the worst movie ever. People would get mad because they forget its my opinion. I hope Moriarty never meets one of these Spielberg worshipers on the street. I don't know what he looks like so I wouldn't be able to identify the body. Moriarty, there are alot of crazies out there, watch yourself. Magnolia2000
June 21, 2001, 2 p.m. CST
maybeone that ended up on the cutting room floor? http://www.ugo.com/channels/features/ai/
June 21, 2001, 2:07 p.m. CST
Hey, here's a question, did anybody actually see 2001 or Clockwork Orange in a theater during it's initial release? Did it frustrate you? Would it have a chance today, in the age of spoilers and fan-boy expectations?
June 21, 2001, 2:21 p.m. CST
by Captain Fantasy
Sounds to me after reading this review that I should save myself the trouble of seeing this film and go rent a real movie about a robot that learns to love and go rent Bicentennial Man. At least that's based on a sci-fi classic and has an ending that has a real message and makes my heart burst every time I see it. It's also great because he wasn't programmed to love, he was programmed to be a slave that discovers real love through that commitment. It's a great story that so many people have not discovered yet. Please for the love of God after seeing A.I. go out a support a movie that is a true piece of cinematic marvel and performance. Also, this goes out to the Evil One, good job on the review, much appreciated.
June 21, 2001, 2:25 p.m. CST
by Captain Fantasy
Love the new Spy Kids animation!
June 21, 2001, 2:27 p.m. CST
"But the dream
June 21, 2001, 2:33 p.m. CST
Does anybody remember a time before sites like AICN existed? Now think, has your movie going experience improved or become more soul destroying since every tom dick or Harry could pretend to be amoive critic, give away key plot point of movies tat aren't due out in over a year and appropriate/steal scripts, designs etc that take al the surprise and joy out of going to sea a film cold and deciding for yourself whether it's cool or not. When was the last time you actually made up your own mind about a film completely without some dick telling you how to think months before hand? Maybe we should fuck AICN and get back to thinking. Just a thought
June 21, 2001, 2:38 p.m. CST
So, this a disappointing, sappy and incoherrant flick? Big suprise. From day 1, this has seemed like a tired and very dated story that Kubrick kicked around his mansion for decades before finally giving it to Senoir Spielbergo because HE is the one who makes schmaltzy kiddy sci-fi where the spaceship makes a happy rainbow at the end. Was this a compliment? I don't think we'll ever really know. It doesn't matter because by the time AI got made, the concept has only been done to death a billion times. God, I am so tired of the whole androids learning to feel, androids wanting to be human, cry little android cry donkey caca papsmear!!! There was really no reason for this movie to be made, other than for Spielberg to attach his name to a great and quite dead director. If you are losing faith in Hollywood this summer, I don't blame you. Here's hoping that at least FINAL FANTASY will be the balls-to-the-wall CGI anime we've all been screaming for. (To hell with mixing "live" action/actors with CGI anyway). It looks it, I'm just hoping there's a coherrant and interesting story. This weekend, I think I'll see the Alan Cummings/Jennifer Jason Leigh indie, THE ANNIVERSARY PARTY and Tom Tykwer's follow up to RUN LOLA RUN, THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR.
June 21, 2001, 2:48 p.m. CST
I happen to like Moriarity's lengthy set-up in reviews, it helps you understand the man whose judgement I've come to trust . I stopped listening to Ebert when he gave "The Shadow" thumbs up back in 1994. And you know he'll like this film. I really wish they would pass a law that made it mandatory to have your verified age posted next to your username/screenname on the net. I could pass over so much shit that way.
June 21, 2001, 2:49 p.m. CST
Albumman makes a good point.All this business of reading test audience reviews loaded with spoilers--it ruins the moviegoing experience.I chose not to read Moriarty's review until I've seen the movie.If the movie sucks,then Oh Well...but at least I had the experience of watching a film for the first time...unspoiled.These days,I refust to read reviews full of spoilers.I wonder sometimes if AICN is doing more harm than good in its mission to cover all things 'film'
June 21, 2001, 2:52 p.m. CST
...but we have to give a big mia culpa...we read the spoilers, AICN and other sites warn us about them over and over again, but we read anyway. Personally, I'm going to start heeding the warnings, not read the spoilers and enjoy movies more, I think. I just dont understand what Moriarty's motivation was for writing this review. It isnt necessary to ruin the whole fucking movie to give a review, good or bad. The only purpose this particular review serves is to ruin the experience of other moviegoers. I appriciate AICN, but I dont like having my moviegoing sabotaged...but again, I have only myself to blame.
June 21, 2001, 2:59 p.m. CST
...but we have to give a big mia culpa...we smoke the cigarettes, AICN and other sites warn us about them over and over again, but we smoke them anyway. Personally, I'm going to start heeding the warnings, not smoke and enjoy breathing more, I think. I just dont understand what Moriarty's motivation was for writing about the dangers of smoking. It isnt necessary to ruin the whole fucking smoking experience to give a review, good or bad. The only purpose this particular tobacco serves is to ruin the experience of other smokers. I appriciate AICN, but I dont like having my health sabotaged...but again, I have only myself to blame.
June 21, 2001, 3:02 p.m. CST
this review contained his reasonings behind his opinions. And valid reasons they were. I agree with M and his comments on some of Spielberg's past movies. I do love Close Encounters, JAWS, Empire of the Sun and Raiders. Also - Duel. Duel is a great movie. And I agree, Spielberg's efforts of late have been without that sense of wonderment. That sense of "ah, wow, if only that could be real...". Ever since "Hook" - which I consider to be a utter bore, Spielberg just hasn't had "it". Ya, Jurassic Park had some elements of previous brilliance, but that's it. Schindler's List was a exceptional accomplishment. BUT, I want that sense of wonderment again. How I miss that! I will see A.I. only due to a huge amount of curiousity. I am curious to see what a Kubrick concept can do in a Spielberg world. Hmmm. Moriarty - a good review. Very well done.
June 21, 2001, 3:03 p.m. CST
all i wanted was one good summer blockbuster this year and it looks like i won't be getting my wish. I bet it all on Moulin Rouge at the beginning of the year and then, er, it wasn't good. And so I decided to anxiously anticipate this and I have a sneaking suspicion this will suck too. perhaps they should hold a summer oscars and a winter oscars each year a la the olympics, ha. at least we wouldn't have to wait until october thru january to see wall to wall good films.
June 21, 2001, 3:07 p.m. CST
This movie was a drag. It's a beautifully shot, mildly interesting drag, but it wasn't very enjoyable. Leaving the theater, I didn't feel changed, different somehow, like great art always makes me feel. I wasn't left to ponder the film's ambiguities, because any ambiguity had been suffocated by tedious voiceover and the beat-you-over-the-head Pinnochio references. I didn't feel engaged by the film's emotional content, and I had problems with its logic. Unfortunately, at times AI was awful, reminding me more of THE RUNNING MAN Schwarzenegger fiasco (particularly the lame neon motorbikers and the whole "Flesh Fair" sequence) than of BLADE RUNNER, which I felt it resembled a bit. Yes, there are homages to Kubrick that are interesting, and Teddy is a wonderful character - I was amazed at the technological prowess that allowed his charm to come through so clearly. But the quest of Osment's character really didn't grab me, and it went on forever (it felt like 2000 years had passed while waiting for the film to finally creep to it's end). The likable things about the movie were lost in the murk of its tediousness. I wanted more of Jude Law's character, just because he brought some jazz to the picture. I have a lot of respect for the filmmakers; this is definitely a movie made by grownups. It's got some flavor, and it's nice to look at. But man, they didn't get me where they seemed to want me to go. I hate that this well-made movie was so boring and predigistible. But it was. Regarding the discussion of this movie on TalkBacks, I think that people that are Kubrick and Spielberg fans should put their knives away. No one's going to keep you from seeing the film and forming your own opinion. I know that I wouldn't have missed it, and was lucky enough to see it early. Maybe you'll like it more than Moriarity or Shen did. But I would throw all of these comparisons to ET or 2001 out the window. I wasn't even slightly reminded of those pictures while watching this one.
June 21, 2001, 3:09 p.m. CST
June 21, 2001, 3:16 p.m. CST
I got that off of a poster. Anyway, I think Mori's review was superb. Will it reflect everyone's opinion after viewing this film? Of course not. The impression im getting so far from the myriad of reviews that have been released is that there is no riding the fence on this. You are going to be sorely disappointed, or you are going to be blown away with jaw loosely agape. Of course we are all going to see this movie. This Spielburg vs. Kubrick debate has been a passionate spot for alot of folks here, and despite the adolescents who are suffering from...well...from being young, there have been some incredible points made on either side. We all need to see this just so we can settle it for ourselves. Personally, the review ill be waiting for is from Paul Tatara, a critic from CNN. His reviews dont make or break a movie for me, but it is definitely an educated and insightful read. Anyway, see you all next weekend. Here's to hoping that Memento will have some company...
June 21, 2001, 3:27 p.m. CST
Dead-on about McCarthy's mindless blow-job in Variety . It's almost as if the mainstream reviews are part of a damage control effort before the AI release, resorting to the "ambitious" and "not for the average viewer" tricks in an effort to mask the conceptual and structural cracks which Moriarty highlights. You wonder how frenzied the spinboys have been since the test screenings. They definitely got to McCarthy, whose reviews are always keyed to commercial potential anyway.
June 21, 2001, 3:40 p.m. CST
Who knows, maybe you'll end up eating your words twenty years from now like critics of "2001 A Space Odyssey" did, or maybe you won't, I intend to find out for myself. I'll do my best to go in and watch this film without thinking about Kubrik's or Spielberg's style, it's called being in the moment, and it's the only way to be honest and truthful to yourself about the viewing experience, much like a good actor. Deep Huh, or just FOS, anyway.
June 21, 2001, 3:52 p.m. CST
by Wee Willie
Doesn't know anything about either one. Pick up a book once in a while. As for you who say Kubrick is over-rated, I have this to say to you: Kubrick's films aren't great because they're complicated. They're complicated because they are great. It's called sophistication, it's the ability to recognize patterns and motifs in a piece of work that give us insights into the human condition. Comparing something like the Mummy to 2001 is like comparing DICK AND JANE to TOLSTOY. It's about being an active, intelligent participant in a film. Not a natcho-munching passive viewer. Anyone who need their films spoon-fed to them is just not sophisiticated. it's hard to take, I know, but we 'cultural elitists' like to unravel good cinema like a puzzle. Unlike you other morons, we enjoy the process of viewing and interpreting a film. But it's okay, there's plenty of WWF action on cable. God, I'd hate to see a talkback about someone REALLY deep like Bergman of Fellini on this site. It would be blank. All of you would stare at your computers, wondering what it all means. Good cinema ain't just about 'cool' you know.
June 21, 2001, 3:55 p.m. CST
Everything seems to have gone downhill in the Wood over the years. Everyone's lost their touch. OF COURSE this movie is going to be a let down! Why not? Everything else has been? So now, Spielberg has lost his touch as well. Does it surprise anyone after seeing Lucas totally lose his? What a sad waste. The past twenty years has seen such a steady decline in quality. It gets harder each year to find the diamonds in the rough. This should have been one of them. What a $#%^ing waste...
June 21, 2001, 4:05 p.m. CST
So, Spielberg and Lucas can't both write good stories to save their asses. This was Spielberg's Phantom Menace and here's why: Unchecked ego and arrogance. No checks and balances in the form of other writers and studio heads. No one would dare question Spielberg, just like no one dared to check off Lucas with TPM. Supposedly that's changed a little bit with Episode 2. You can bet when AI tanks at the box office, or at least underperforms considerably, people are going to be looking at Spielberg in a different light. The light is going to be: Are he and Lucas both has beens? Starting to wonder...
June 21, 2001, 4:22 p.m. CST
Just thinking of some MAD Magazine titles for this movie. Artificial Ingredients, Absolutely Irritating
June 21, 2001, 4:41 p.m. CST
that can inspire a > 6000 word essay "critiquing" it.
June 21, 2001, 5 p.m. CST
based on m's review and without having seen the film, could the ending be making a comment about what 'real' is? machines have evolved to the point where they can create humans; the roles are reversed from the beginning of the film so who's to say what 'real' is?
June 21, 2001, 5:06 p.m. CST
To say that "I think people's race should be posted next to their user names so I know who to skip over" is not far from "I think people's age should be posted next to their user names so I know who to skip over" is pathetic. This is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Twelve year olds that masquerade as thirty-one year olds and try to equate race with age to prove some "bigotry" correlation. Well ain
June 21, 2001, 6:57 p.m. CST
woke up at midnight, had coffee, watched some omen-rip off on tv, wrote a couple of e-mails, read moriarty's review of ai. it was pretty good. now the sun is rising. a bit cloudy outside. probably going to rain today. i feel like watching 2001, but there's a scratch on my dvd. pisses me off. oh well, i ought to get some work done anyway. later.
June 21, 2001, 6:58 p.m. CST
woke up at midnight, had coffee, watched some omen-rip off on tv, wrote a couple of e-mails, read moriarty's review of ai. it was pretty good. now the sun is rising. a bit cloudy outside. probably going to rain today. i feel like watching 2001, but there's a scratch on my dvd. pisses me off. oh well, i ought to get some work done anyway. later.
June 21, 2001, 7:03 p.m. CST
isn't this movie based on kubrick bear a striking similarity to the late creator of "ASTRO-BOY Tezuka Osamu.
June 21, 2001, 7:46 p.m. CST
I didn't read all of the review because I'm trying to keep myself as spoiler-free as possible. On huge hyped-up flicks like this I usually read all the press because I'm so anxious to see it and therefore find out so many plot details I would rather not have known. There's such a huge build-up for "A.I" that of course it's going to be a big letdown. No matter how good it is, it will suffer the same fate as "Episode I" (which wasn't a completely BAD film) in the sense that the hype and speculation will be more fun than the end result. Tons of people have romanticized about how great "A.I" will be because of the talent involved. I want to see it because it's that final touch on Kubrick's filmography -unless they end up making his unproduced "Napolean" script or anything else he had on his plate. I dig the ad campaign because if you're already interested, it really makes you salivate. Trailers today give too much of the movie away. Besides being P.T Anderson's follow-up to "Boogie Nights," the other big factor that got so into "Magnolia" right quick was it's elusive teaser trailer. The same for "A.I," it gives you just enough to know what you're getting into without giving you any of the movie. The TV spots were different, but those are 30 second snippets. I have no doubt that I'll be let down on the 29th, but I still want to see it because I'm hoping that all the reviews are wrong. But they're suffering the same fate I will. The movies I think I've enjoyed the most on a pure entertainment level are the ones I had no expectations for and was thus pleasantly surprised. There was no hype around the Nic Cage "Gone in 60 Seconds" and when I finally did see it I had zero expectations and actually dug it because there was absolutely nothing for it to live up to. I had high hopes for "A.I" - and that will be it's downfall for a lot of Spielberg and Kubrick fans or anybody expecting a great film. It might be a good ride, but from what I understand it would be easily forgettable if it weren't for the creators involved. Based on the reviews I also think Spielberg should have gotten someone else involved on the writing of it - because he isn't a writer, he's a director. Often they go hand-in-hand but Spielberg's gifts lay in the visual storytelling, and not necessarily on the page. It seems to me that if you can do one, you should be able to do the other, but sometimes it just doesn't work, and perhaps it's easier for Spielberg to visually convey characters and personality when it's already been thought out by the writer and fleshed out by the actor. Spielberg failed (I haven't even seen the movie and I'm already saying he failed - that's the mindset!) because it seems he's trying to hard to be Kubrick, who had a really good quote which I might be fucking up: "One man writes a novel. One man writes a symphony. It is essential for one man to make a film." That's just not Spielberg, he's always been more into filmmaking as a collaborative process. He's more Hollywood. Kubrick was more of an auteur, like in EWS it was Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and him with a camera in a room filming some of the scenes. Kubrick was a one man band who didn't seem to give a fuck about demographic because he knew the audience he wanted to reach would respond to his films. I may be wrong but I think that Kubrick had an artistic confidence and independence that Spielberg lacks. Spielberg has experienced little failure, and that pressure builds up. Now he's got all of this on his shoulders to keep Kubrick's vision alive and at the same time make a blockbuster film. And it seems to be all on him. The main thing is getting "A.I" on the screen and making it great. Kubrick's vision of the film may not have worked for Spielberg, and it seems that Spielberg went against his instincts to be like Kubrick. People shouldn't expect a Kubrick film - he's dead - but if Spielberg doesn't at least deliver the goods like he has in recent years and the result is less than great - "A.I" is a failure, no matter how much money it makes. Kubrick-philes won't be happy, Spielberg fans will be disappointed and casual viewers may be left in the dark. Kubrick had and still does have a select audience while Spielberg has always tried to appeal to the masses. The reaction to the film seems to be disappointment turning into anger. Maybe we'll see "A.I"-related theater violence.
June 21, 2001, 7:53 p.m. CST
by The Cars
Best reviewer? Are you people nuts?
June 21, 2001, 8:18 p.m. CST
At this point, I generally expect any movie that I look forward to to flop. I am PRAYING this doesn't happen with Lord of the Rings!! Until then, let accept only being entertained by surprises like Memento.
June 21, 2001, 8:37 p.m. CST
Oh man, that was cool ... don't know if I'm as hopeful about A.I. as you are but that post you wrote was pure cool. Kubrick may have been the greatest but you have to remember that Spielberg did this one and looking at Moriarity's review here it looks like his flubbing the job may be a strong possibility. But I think I can enter the movie objectively enough to determine for myself whether it's cool or not. bye-bye
June 21, 2001, 9:08 p.m. CST
Why are so many of you people carping over one man's opinion? So many of you telling m'man he must be on the sauce and that he needs to piss off? Take M's novella for what it is. This is one man's idea of A movie (not a Kubrick movie). This is point by point analysis of where exactly it went wrong for him. Is everyone so insecure that they can't share in a friendly little exchange of dialouge w/out fear of having their own opinion changed? Read the review (all of it). Get off of your ass and go see a movie. Any movie. Afterwards make up your own mind about said movie. Nobody's insinuating that you should do any differently. Get off of the defensive people. Summers just started. Go have some fun. Buy your Mom an icecream cone. And when the fun is over come on back b/c we'll still be here and there will be plenty more for you to bitch about, and plenty more lessons to be learned.
June 21, 2001, 9:19 p.m. CST
I'm not going to look through your abyssimal search engine to find it, so if you don't answer, I understand. The idea of Spielberg doing Kubrick never seemed to sit right with me, but after reading the last couple of reviews I had hope...and now YOUR REVIEW! I saw Kubrick bringing to this project another cold reflection of the human condition (I agree that a part of his films is the expectation for you to project yourself onto them). I have never seen a film of his without it having a lasting effect on me. But Spielberg is almost the opposite side of the coin, and knowing the premise going in, I had a sinking feeling when Kubrick died and Spielberg continued with the project. Given what you saw, is your innate feeling that Stanley could've done a better job?
June 21, 2001, 9:21 p.m. CST
Who gives a shit what Lesseriarty has to say about this. Go see the film yourselves!
June 21, 2001, 9:24 p.m. CST
Because I hate those things. It made Private Ryan seem trite to me. Moriarty's review mentions the #1 do-not-do rule in screewriting, and that is to explain everything to the audience instead of finding a way to show it. That may sound pretentious to some of you, but the fact is you're watching a visual medium, not reading a book. IMO, voiceovers are indicative of a movie that failed to do its job and they're trying to fix it in post.
June 21, 2001, 9:30 p.m. CST
Spielberg tries to make a film appealing to the masses. The masses usually like what feels comfortable. Kubrick has never been about that. I don't fault Spielberg for being that kind of storyteller, but given the subject matter, I don't see how it can possibly be comfortable in the Spielberg fashion. As I stated a few posts before, Saving Private Ryan was hindered by those silly "emotional" bookends framing them. Kubrick was not afraid to hurt his audience, and Spielberg is.
June 21, 2001, 9:38 p.m. CST
Billy Wilder said that in three lines of voice-over he can convey ten minutes worth of material. Voice-over by a protagonist isn't a cop-out as long as it isn't telling the audience what they're already seeing. It's not there to guide the viewer through, but to add to the image. If it's an entirely visual medium, why is there sound at all? In futuristic movies an eloquent third party voice-over to establish a foreign time and place is much more effective and dignified than lame expository dialogue. It outside party narration sets up the movie at the beginning, that's one thing, but Ben Kingsley throughout telling us what we're seeing is quite gratuitous. Spielberg is enough of a visual storyteller not to need third-party narration throughout. But when done right, first-person voice-over can be great. More recent than many of the famous films noir it was done so well in, I think "Fight Club" is an example of very well done first-person narration.
June 21, 2001, 10:08 p.m. CST
I'm not discounting it entirely, I'm just saying that, as a rule, you should show it before saying it. Again, the whole "bookends" thing bothers me, as if the audience is not intelligent enough to understand what is going on, or if the story is so incoherent that the viewer can't possibly make heads-or-tails. And you're talking about Wilder who comes from an age when it was about the story and not special effects or set pieces.
June 21, 2001, 10:13 p.m. CST
definitely hindered Saving Private Ryan, especially the very end. Just shots of the cemetary would have worked, but it would have echoed Schindler's List too much. I much prefer voice-over to schmaltzy bookends. I hope "A.I" isn't Spielberg warm, Kubrick was never what you might call endearing.
June 21, 2001, 10:47 p.m. CST
by Billy Talent
You can call me the guy who thinks that 'Barry Lyndon' was Kubrick's second best, the guy who thought that 'Eyes Wide Shut' was his best since then. This is the film that not everyone is going to like. And it's not like 'Pearl Harbor' or something where some people will kind of like it. A lot of people will be quite fascinated by this, as I am even by 'Full Metal Jacket', his most uneven film I think. As for Spieberg, I suppose I would conclude 'E.T.' was probably his apotheosis. His historical dramas often leave me with a very bad taste in my mouth. I like the comment that Frederic Raphael attributed to Kubrick, "'Schindler's List' wasn't about the holocaust, it was about success." His subsequent fantasy and adventure films, while often entertaining (and often not), have felt increasingly cynical. 'A.I.' looks at least to be a very different film. A 'serious' fantasy film, a vastly expensive Hollywood movie that could not be less interested in making people feel good about themselves. A film that's vastly superior the second time that you watch it, and life changing the third, except you'll probably hate it the first time and you'll never want to see it again. I've been prepared for the worst since this film was announced. I know that this will polarize audiences, I'm just not sure yet which side I'll be on. I really haven't been out to many movies this summer (lots and lots and lots of videos though, don't worry), but next Friday I'll be treating myself to a double bill of 'A.I.' and 'Crazy Beautiful' (although maybe I should switch the order on those). It's such a strange thing to see one of these movies for the first time, in time they just come to seem as if they've always been there. It's pretty hard to imagine you've never seen '2001' or 'Close Encounters', or you're going to watch 'Clockwork' for the very first time, having no idea what you're in for. Kubrick's films are the first I can remember that just scared the hell out of me, and still do. Yeah, I think in '2001' he probably made about the very greatest film ever. His others aren't half bad either. 'A.I.' sounds very vey Kubrickian, which can be very perplexing. I have to see it.
June 21, 2001, 10:55 p.m. CST
by Billy Talent
It's not 'The Mummy Returns'. I don't think you're really supposed to just 'Sit back and enjoy.'
June 21, 2001, 11:28 p.m. CST
by I'ay Bo-Bo!
It means, most likely, I will enjoy it. I'm guessing EW will grade this as C+ or worse due to the fact the "geek ideal" is already prone to disliking it. Unfortunately, it might not be a box-office blockbuster I would have hoped. But people liked the Sixth Sense and it was a quiet, centered film. I can only hope people view this film the same way devoid of the "geek ideal" of "this film is, like, totally gonna rock and shit." People apt to say that are the people apt to dislike this film. I usually hate critically successful films of the 90's, whereas, Moriarty would surely praise the fuck out of them. But Moriarty (I think I'm spelling it wrong) is a good person and film lover - not a greedy, overly articulate piece of shit like the EW critics. No Kubrick film has ever been well-received by the masses until YEARS after it's been released. I have no idea if this works on this same principle. I'm fucking smarter than Moriarty, but sometimes I do value his input into films. However, I don't understand critics for one reason: if you love film so much, then why not try and make it yourself? Hell, my aspirations are to make films far superior to Citizen Kane on a critical level. If Orson Welles was to become a film critic, I'd have respect and value his input. Of course this is impossible, seeing as how he is "no longer." Of course, this poses a paradox. If Orson Welles were alive, I'd still rather see him make films than critique them. It'd be depriving the world of a great mind if he was to critique film. My point is: don't follow the ideals of a "geek nation." Ignore Moriarty's review and see the film for yourself. Until Moriarty has made a film worthy of my affection, I won't value his thoughts more than I value anyone else's except actual filmmakers. I'm just rambling and it's late. Maybe A.I. does suck, but I'll be the judge of that. But I should only value one person's sentiments, my own. I think all of you should too. Just say, "okay, Moriarty. Your opinion sucks because it's not my opinion!" Moriarty can say the same. So don't get your panties in a wad. But to wrap it up, I leave you with these thoughts in my late-night stupor. If reviewers like Peter Travers are complaining about the condition of film in America, why the fuck isn't he doing anything about it? I, for one, don't understand how you can be so passionate about something, yet have no interest in pursuing it. It's been said those who can't do teach. I say, those who can't make films criticize them.
June 21, 2001, 11:48 p.m. CST
For me it was Meg Smith(I still love you, ya nutcase). She was my girl and all was right in the world. I say was b/c there comes that one day in every failed relationship wherein one minute you're enjoying a picnic in the park and the next you turn around to find yourself all alone. You start wondering what you did wrong. What did I do to run her off? W/a little time and alot of help from the friends you had before the relationship you realize that you didn't do a thing. People change people move on, end of story. I hope it's obvious what I'm getting at here. If it's not then Harry, cue the V.O. Moriarty has had an ongoing relationship w/one Stephen Spielberg for a good 20+ years. They've had their ups and downs but managed to stay together. Tonight they had a rather innocent date at the local cineplex and when Mory turned around Stephen was gone. Alone and frightened he found his way back to this talkback submerged place, hoping to find a sympathetic ear, someone to let him know what he did wrong. And here he'll sit for (by the account of the experience he had tonight)what will probably feel like 2000 yrs, waiting for the answer. Let me bookend it for you. M's critique is not a cheap slam on one of our greatest filmmakers, it's a love letter. A love letter he'll never get to send b/c it hurts too bad. Hold on to it Moriarty. It will help put things in perspective one day.
June 22, 2001, 5:05 a.m. CST
June 22, 2001, 5:17 a.m. CST
I'm really gonna have a field day come mid-December, when everybody starts whining about how disappointing LOTR really is, no matter how good it actually is. Since it is a given that you are going to be disappointed and bitchy about the whole thing, better start whining right now. First it was TPM (which is actually a great Star Wars movie. So, it's juvenile and the plot is paper-thin. I hate breaking it to you but ANH was no Tolstoy). Now I am quite amused to see everybody depressed and ready to cry because of Moriarty's review. A review with which I have a lot of problems, firstly because he seems not to like the movie because it is different than what he expected (Whoa! TPM flashback!) and secondly because he seems not to like the movie because the motivation and actions of the characters appear to be, gulp!, based on reality and not some fantasy world where everybody thinks sentient machines are no big deal (See my original post). But the biggest laugh is that you all keep forgetting that this is a review! This is not God's voice telling you A.I. is no good, it's just a guy with a computer. Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong. There's such thing as individual taste. One man's masterpiece is another man's piece of crap.
June 22, 2001, 6:02 a.m. CST
Why don't you idiots find some anti-Kubrick board and rag on him there! You have no place here at all! Sure, everyone's entitled to their opinion, but let me just say this....IF THIS MOVIE SUCKS, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO BLAME IT ON STANLEY KUBRICK! Kubrick didn't do jack s**t to make this movie what it is, whatever it is, in any way except the fact he gave Spielberg the idea! And let's forget he's DEAD, for chrissakes! If Kubrick made this movie, everything would be SO different. All you people who hate A.I. would love it, because Kubrick would bring to the movie everything sorely missed. Maybe the whole cast would be replaced, too. But Spielberg, a great director (or once-great, if the occasion calls for it), filled in for Kubrick after his untimely death....and there are mixed reactions to the result. Kubrick didn't get the chance to write this movie, direct this movie, do ANYTHING at all to this movie. So to all you Kubrick-haters, do you see now how pointless it is to insult Kubrick for something he didn't even do? If all you're doing is playing the blame-game here, blame Spielberg. All Kubrick said in a nutshell to Spielberg is: "Hey, this A.I. story is good. You should make a movie out of it." Everything after that was entirely up to Spielberg. And if this movie blows, let's not forget that not every director is perfect! Everyone's entitled to ONE mistake! I hope we can find it in our hearts to still respect Spielberg and not throw him in the "director dumpster", with the likes of Brian DePalma and Joel Schumacher, two directors who both made just one mistake on film nobody forgave them for. So let's save Spielberg and STOP DISSING KUBRICK! Please!
June 22, 2001, 6:46 a.m. CST
June 22, 2001, 7:07 a.m. CST
Moriarity has the unmitigated gall to see a film that bloody well every film-geek has been making trouser-messes over and honestly dislike it. He then proceeds to get shredded by both talkbackers and Harry for having A)unrealistic expectations, B)Writing too lengthy a review, and, most importantly, C)Shitting on the sacred cow. To my mind, a long review was warranted because, unless he gave extensive detail on where the movie didn't work for him and WHY he would have been accused of just being cranky or unfair. What is truly funny is that he gets accused by all and sundry of being unfair to Kubrick/Speilberg, who must have come up with an awesome movie, because he obviously had far too high expectations for the film. This of course shows that all of his critics also have extremely high expectations for the film, despite protestations to the contrary, because their own expectations for the film won't allow them to believe that it could be a poor film. Look, we've got Spielberg writing a script after years of non-practice based on a treatment from a filmaker whose movies are vastly different in tone and style. Plus, Spielberg has had several missteps in his career, Hook, Always, Jurassic Park (Look, had the FX been poor, would anyone say that it was a great movie except for the lousy effects? Hell, no, they would have said it was a piece of crap) I and II, etc. He can make bad movies. Never mind that the majority of the trickling reviews of AI have been negative, they must not get it, they're not as smart as I (you), the guy living in his parents's basement. For your information, Kubrick's movies made lots of money, his appeal was not limited to the self-styled film "elite". Lots of those horrible and uncouth common men liked his movies as well. If you want to see it, go see it, I will simply based on its pedigree. However, don't beat on Moriarity for giving a firm and definitive personal review. Isn't that why we come to this site in the first place? Matt
June 22, 2001, 8:35 a.m. CST
It's not like he wanted to hate it. It just didn't work for him. Big deal. However, he confirmed a lot of my apprehensions about Speilberg's involvement, and was pretty specific about the problems he had with the film. Not to mention that a few of the "positive" reviews have also hit on these points.
June 22, 2001, 9:13 a.m. CST
by Fatal Discharge
Firstly, 2001 is not boring or meaningless. Watch it on a big screen with big sound a couple of more times. The whole film is about ideas....possibilities of humankind, spacetravel and the existence of beings higher than ourselves. If you like science fiction at all or were ever curious about the universe then this film speaks a lot to these questions. For people with limited attention spans or no curiosity then I'm sure it will be boring to them. As for Kubrick's The Shining being better than the book....no. Firstly anyone who considers all of King's books to be crap either hasn't read them or is a major snob who is not in touch with the average person. King writes about common people in extraordinary situations. In The Shining, you care about Jack who is a sympathetic person led astray by temptation (it's really about alcoholism and the harm it does to families). In Kubrick's film you get no sense of caring about any of the characters especially Jack. As for the topiary animals...the only reason they were replaced with the maze was that Kubrick could not get the effects for the animals to look the way he wanted. The tv adpation of The Shining did use the animals and it worked quite well and Jack's character was much better done (a reason why King redid the film to correct). I still like Kubrick's film for it's beautifully filmed scenes but the novel is far more scary and emotional.
June 22, 2001, 10:26 a.m. CST
by dexter cornell
I get so sick of people of talking about the brilliance of Kubrick. How brilliant is a director when most of his movies could serve an insomnia clinic better than any drug known to man?? He's boring, not remotely interesting or 'deep'. I don't see the 'intelligence' of his work, I see hardware store clerk hack. Kevin Smith direction (I said DIRECTION!) with a sleep inducing script. To say that he is brilliant is simply nuts. Sell crazy somewhere else, we're all stocked up here. Dex out
June 22, 2001, 10:38 a.m. CST
it had no ambiguity at all. It worked well for me.. no 'levels of meaning' - if anything.. the movie resolved too much.. it could have ended a half hour earlier and left more to the imagination.. but I though it was all briliant.
June 22, 2001, 11:11 a.m. CST
1) Mori, you're a damn good writer and thinker when it comes to cinema. You also have your head up your ass. I know this not because of the review, but because of the length of your piece, written as a review for AICN. With several more viewings, a little more thought, a better handle on grammar, and a bit more formality, you could have written a damn good "think piece" -- critical analysis, man, that's what people like you need to be doing. You'd probably be great at it if you learned to set aside your feelings for a little while. Writing like this has its place, but you're way too talented a writer to be cavorting with the rest of us assholes on this site -- Harry, of course, is the leader. 2) Which brings me to point 2. Harry, you suck. You just really, really suck. For the past four years, not two days have gone by that I haven't at least perused AICN's content. After today, though, NO FUCKING MORE! Harry, my intor to this site coincided with the release of Dark City, which you loved. And Ebert loved. And, damn, I think it's one of the most brilliant pieces of filmmaking I've ever come across. Reading this site's content re: Dark City turned me into a fan -- of AICN, genre films, and geeks. Then came The Faculty. Amazing goddamn film. Sure it's flawed, but how am I going to get upset over a film I can't stop watching. Only unwatchable part of that film is Harry, not because he's fat, but because he's not nearly as cute as the little cartoon guy on the website. But I digress. Once again, Harry, your 'news' blurbs and your review were right on. Love you for it. But Harry, oh, Harry -- you have become what you despise: A HACK! You are a hack, harry. You no longer are the reviewer or even the presence you were four years ago. You are like some sort of irradiated version of yourself. You are the corn flakes I eat each morning, holding my nose because I can smell and taste the fucking lye. Seriously, man, I'm so disappointed. I don't even think I want to contribute to this shittiness by sending in a talkback, but what the fuck happened to you? FIX YOUR SITE BEFORE IT DIES, MAN. I MISS THE REAL AICN. I know I'm not being specific and just a little bit abusive, but you don't seem to be interested in what true fans of your site want anyway. 3) A.I. Well, let's see. I think Jaws and Raiders are brilliant movies. But I've never seen them in a theater and I've never swooned over them either. But I'll tell you what Spielberg film makes me shit: DUEL. That's the pinnacle, man. Young, renegade Spielberg before he turned fag working from a script by Matheson. Pardon me while I go jerk off all over myself. But (here's where I get elitist) even DUEL ain't shit when compared to the crowning achievements of cinema. Know what they are? Well, if those "M"/DMX talkbacks are any indication, some of you do, most of you are stupid, and therefore suck. One day, those of you who are actually reading this and are open to new things, watch (in a theater, whenever possible) The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer), L'Avventura (Antonioni), Persona (Bergman), Menilmontant (Kirsanov), and maybe even The Red and the White (Jansco). Then maybe we can have some discussion on this formerly great but now shitty site. Until that happens, though, and it won't, I'm going to check out A.I. in sunny San Luis Obispo and, even if it's not good, I'm going to like it cause, hey, at least the little robot isn't played by Jonathan Lipniki.** ** Three thousand bucks to anyone who brings me that little kid's head. Sanjuro out.
June 22, 2001, 12:36 p.m. CST
The discussion in the referred links about the proposed ending hold much to ponder. The future AI's give David his wish - to be happy with his mother - based on his memories (not cloning), and it presumably lasts forever (not til sleep), if only in his mind... that has a far more wrenching, ambivalent, thinker to it. Hal asking if it will dream. Is David loving? Do we? Is it a higher reward, heaven? Will robots care about each other's dreams and aspirations?
June 22, 2001, 12:41 p.m. CST
by The Pardoner
Give Spielberg an idea, and he'll fuck it up in every possible way.
June 22, 2001, 12:58 p.m. CST
by Kid Z
... The"Summer of Stool" will continue through July. NEVER thought I'd ever say this, but September can't get here soon enough!
June 22, 2001, 1:28 p.m. CST
by The Little Tramp
For what its worth, Andrew Sarris (one of the legendary film critics), seems to revere A.I. passionately...http://www.nyobserver.com/index_go.html. That's the kind of review you almost never see for anything.
June 22, 2001, 1:50 p.m. CST
by Fatal Discharge
Coming from a guy who thinks The Faculty is amazing [a boring by-the-numbers hackjob of filmmaking...unless I didn't pick up your sarcasm] as well as Passion Of Joan Of Arc and Persona, who are you to criticize the large guy? Sure Harry's reviews are sometimes idiotic and completely way off sometimes but what other sites mix fanboy culture with a like for arthouse and classic films? Lighten up Sanjuro.
June 23, 2001, 12:42 a.m. CST
Well, to sum up my deleted effort: Visions get very hazy in Hollywood, especially once they've left the hands and mind of the creator. This is Kubrick's vision, but Speilberg's film.
June 23, 2001, 12:50 a.m. CST
I kind of feel like Michael Douglas watching his novel fly away.....lol Oh well, to sum up my deleted effort: Visions get very hazy in Hollywood, especially once they've left the hands and mind of the creator. This is Kubrick's vision, but Speilberg's film, and the two are just not of the same tastes or esthetic reputations. Peace out.
June 23, 2001, 6:29 a.m. CST
I also think that the site has seen better days. The quality has detiriorated in the last couple of years and that is a feeling I believed many of you share. But have you ever though why this is so? I have lately developed a pet theory, it might be right, it might be crap, but let me share it with you- and Harry, please take notice. When the site started out, Harry was just a film geek with a good idea and enough enthusiasm to pull it through. However, as time went by and Harry became some sort of media celeb, the stakes got much higher but Harry remained the same geek he always was. Therefore, we've had such obviously bogus postings such as that dreaded "Transformers: The movie" rendering which Harry actually believed it might be true, the "Secret Tarantino film at Cannes" story and various long, spoiler-heavy, way too personal reviews. I think the problem is that Harry hasn't realised the responsibility of mantaining a site which is no longer read by a couple hundred guys but is considered a mainstream Hollywood news source. He should grow up and start acting like a real journalist. Because right now he is no longer just a film geek. For all intents and purposes he is a journalist and right now not a very good one. I would start by cross-referencing my sources before posting any crap they send me as a news item and by cutting down on the personal stuff. No one is interested in your life, they are here for the movies.
June 23, 2001, 6:31 a.m. CST
KEVIN'S IDEAS ABOUT THIS MOVIE unjaded by actually seeing it until June 29, 2001:: I've ramped up a lot of info on this movie, and as usual with all Kubrick movies none of it makes any kind of sense. Here are some highlights, since one of my great skills in encapsulating ideas:: AI is an 18-year obsession of Kubrick unfinished at the time of his death. Kubrick had a 90-page scriptment according to Spielberg which implies some dialogue worked out, the general scope and extent of the story, and some footage he was trying to prototype, like a kid floating in water clinging onto an oil derrick, and New York City underway. He had a Rouge City worked out, a decadent Moulin Rouge place where the whole town was bad. This scriptment evolved from Brian Aldiss's short story, DO SUPERTOYS LAST ALL SUMMER LONG about Monica Swinton and her son who is lost to them, frozen until a cure can be found. As a temporary relief, she gets a supertoy, a robot kid that looks and feels like a real kid, and if she imprints him he will be her kid, and all that that entails. When the real kid is magically cured, she dumps play kid as if he is a supertoy. Everything is not "lovely" in her pleasant garden. I use the word "lovely" deliberately because the opening line of THE UGLY DUCKLING by Hans Christian Anderson mentions their world as lovely, and AI the movie appears to be an ugly ducking story. (In Literature stories with the same formula are called prototypes). The ugly duckling story is a story set in a marshland (filled with water) and a mother of ducks finds a "turkey" egg which hatches late, and out comes an "ugly" duck. Why ugly? He's not one of them, he doesn't fit. They don't know how to handle him. Against all the advise and criticism the mother gets on this duckling when he shows he can swim like the others, she accepts him and treats him as one of her own. In other words, the ugly duckling imprinted to her, and she carried out her genetic responsibility. When spring comes around and the warm sun melts away the cold winter the ugly duckling grows up into a beautiful swan. What I hope Kubrick is saying in this movie is that man has tried with AI to Frankenstein his brain, to make a better man. But, as in existentialism (Man has killed God, and we are the assassin), now Man faces an awesome task to behave properly and accepts the mantle of responsibility. As we evolve to the next level of intelligence (as in the black monolith), do we jump? And we can only jump if we play fair. Goethe talks about the eternal redemption of the feminine. The last frames of this movie apparently allow David (the robot) to square away his feelings with his mother. One reason Kubrick stands head and shoulders above many directors is that artistically he has always tried to define the human condition. This is essential to any writer, of course as Kubrick was "the writer" of his movies, a true auteur if you like that concept. Let's rephrase it. It is always Kubrick's vision. But he was a cipher, an enigma. He didn't give away too many clues. 2001 only makes real sense if you know Nietzche, or how to spell it. Nietzche had the concept of Man and Superman, that when Man killed God, he would have to become a Superman to be reborn with all the responsibility for being Man. Hence the child is the Earth, after this long trip of discovery. By Jupiter. I think, and these are 100% my ideas, that each of Kubrick's movies dealt with a defining thing about Man. Man is a violent animal and used his intelligence to advance/evolve (2001). Man is violent, but this violence can't be meddled with, without understanding how it functions (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE). Man gets into stupid wars where his training and prep do him no good at all (FULL METAL JACKET). Man is violent, but isn't a relentless killing machine devoid of feeling or moral imperative. In war if you don't kill are you a coward? (PATHS OF GLORY). Man is violent by nature, but also needs to protect his kind. Man protects a child as his own. Trouble is he wants sex with her, because a strong impulse is having sex (LOLITA). Man resists being protected or owned by another Man. And can't be enslaved. (SPARTACUS). Man has sexual needs, but has a need to socialize. As part of socialization, he commits to a woman for life. But sex is offered in many ways: to the wife a desirable man that will deny the husband. Hookers and "street sex" can prove dirty and deadly so buyer beware. Helping a woman in your bathroom dying of a heroin overdose may not to a good move. (EYES WIDE SHUT). Man will get severely unhinged if this need is not dealt with. Man strives to better a "better mousetrap", of himself. But he must deal beyond Frankenstein and accept what it is he's created. Not a monster and kill it, but a human and then treat it as a human. Only when he does can he evolve to the next stage of Man. (A.I.). Man has to move beyond Man & SuperMan to Man & Supertoy. In conclusion, I hope and respect that Kubrick achieved his goals (if this indeed was his goal), to define, in his movies to the world, the essence of Man.
June 23, 2001, 7:49 a.m. CST
I've now read your review for the third time. Whether I end up agreeing with it or not (like most average Joes, I will have to wait till the 29th to see the film), it is an honest and deeply felt review. I just have one question. Your assessment seems largely plot-centered. I would be interested to know how you felt about the *tone and texture* of the film. Spielberg is usually very plot-oriented. Kubrick was generally not, with some exceptions. To use Ebert's overused dictum, "A movie is not about its plot, it is about the way it is about it." This was never more true than for Kubrick's films. People who dumped on "Eyes Wide Shut" for its plot made me laugh. Is this another case of someone looking to a movie for plot satisfaction and coming away disappointed because the plot was the furthest thing from the filmmaker's mind? Now, there are shitty plotless films (**coughcoughtombraidercough**) and there are great plotless films ("2001"). Does this FEEL like a Spielberg film or a Kubrick film? Or does it feel like Spielberg unsuccessfully aping Kubrick? Or, weirder still, does it feel like what might have happened if Kubrick had tried to make a Spielberg-type film, and failed because he couldn't work up the conviction that Spielberg could for the manipulative scenes...I suppose I will answer many of these questions for myself when I see the film, but it would be interesting to see Moriarty address them, and also to see if Moriarty feels that this may be a film that improves on repeated viewings (did he talk about that though? I forget).
June 23, 2001, 8:44 a.m. CST
Moriarty may be right. But even if he is, I'll still be seeing AI sooner or later. At least this movie represents some attempt to create something more than your usual Hollywood popcorn fest from within the system. For that AI deserves our support, even if it is a failure.
June 23, 2001, 11:11 a.m. CST
I won't read Moriarty's review until I've seen the movie, but I look forward to it; he's the most articulate writer on this cite 9with the possible exception of the lady who reviewed "Left Behind"). Regardles, I love the idea that I need to "beware of thorough criticism." Actually, I'd like to be alterted of it!
June 23, 2001, 11:29 a.m. CST
while i've only read this review, as well as the review in the June 25 issue of time, it seems that A.I. is caught between fairy tale and sci-fi. much hoopla has been made over the role of science fiction in film and fiction as a legitimate form of human and artistic expression. some contend that it lacks a basis in reality, which is the disqualifying measure of fairy tales and fantasy stories. science fiction, however, is supposed to offer something more. while it's reality may be skewwed, it should be potential. A.I. seems to be wandering far off into the land of fairy tales and illegitimacy, blatantly alluding to Pinnochio and the blue fairy. for A.I. to be a sad and moving story, it has to be recognizable to us, an early 21st century audience, with cognitive bases we can connect with. otherwise, every emotion and feeling this film is supposed to invoke in us is faltered, because it comes from a wonderful land of make believe. stories of robotic evolution are prime sci-fi material, and the proposition was around before Kubrick and Aldiss. execution in the sci-fi genre is key, however, and demoting the movie to a fairy tale is damaging and misleading. of course i haven't even seen the movie. make a deadpool movie with vin diesel, dammit, not this fast and furious crapola.
June 23, 2001, 4:33 p.m. CST
by AICN fanboy dork
Then again, having something on a website doesn't make you a journalist or writer either.
June 23, 2001, 6:48 p.m. CST
At least this movie wasn't the acting debut of Britney Spears and her boyfriend Justin or the directorial debut of Freddie Prinze Jr. for that matter. I think Kubrick must have liked the Spielberg of 1981 that made E.T. Unfortunately the Spielberg of that time period is no longer around. Sometimes on your way up in life you forget about what got you their, the dreams that inspired you and the dreams you shared that inspired other people, you lose sight of the beauty you create that so many love. I really had my hopes up for A.I., in that the magic Spielberg had created could be combined w/ a Kubrick story and vision that would in turn produce something the likes of a Wizard of Oz for todays generation. I praise Moriarty for writing such a truthful and though provoking review and for being one of the best writers out there writing in the world today.
June 23, 2001, 7:37 p.m. CST
by Indiana Jones
Isn't Spielberg allowed to make one film you don't personally agree with??? Get over it!!!
June 24, 2001, 12:01 a.m. CST
Part of the problem many have with Kubrick is that they can't relate to his definition of the human condition. It is based on the false premise that man was able to successfully kill God. The problem is, once this premise is assumed as true, no objective morality exists. That's what leads to Nietzche's theory of the Super man turning into Hitler. The true logical conclusion of this definition of the essence of man is rising above the herd, and gaining power over them. Hitler actually took Nietzche to his logical conclusion. However,to say that "Man faces an awesome task to behave properly and accepts the mantle of responsibility" after he kills God does not logically follow. How does one define behaving properly in a world with no objective morality? How does one "play fair" in world with no objective morality? Such terms are subjective in the Godless world, and are terms only used by the "herd", or the weak. The only logical "moral imperative" is power. Therefore, many are confused as to how the next step from killing God is evolving to the next level of intelligence. How does treating the "monster" we created as "human" instead of killing it logically follow, and more importantly, how does this help our intelligence as humans evolve? How is artificial intelligence even potentially superior to human intelligence when it can only know what we put into it? By the time we are intelligent enough to create artificial intelligence that can think for itself, much less have the ability to feel and love, we will already have evolved to the next level of intelligence, and be far ahead of what we created. The next stage of man can't be found in artificial intelligence, because a.i. wouldn't be man, but a creation of man. So, both Man and SuperMan, and Man and SuperToy are both not logical. I think that's why large portions of our population who either don't want to kill God, or those who are unable to kill God, cannot buy into the world of many of Kubrick's films, and many sci fi films for that matter, where it is assumed God will simply disappear because many want Him to.
June 24, 2001, 1:26 a.m. CST
Steven Spielberg has always been the consumate studio filmmaker. Nobody seems to compare him to the filmmaker he was most influenced by: Walt Disney. From his early efforts to this day Spielberg has made films that the masses would shell out the price of a ticket to see. He is a business savvy guy with a creative bent. Both sides of the brain working at once. Duel and The Lost World were made by the same guy, just like Fantasia and Pocahontas were made by the same "guy". Spielberg moves with the times and is damned if he's going to make a film that makes your brain work overtime. Sorry but as visually poetic and emotionally gutwrenching as Schindler's List was, I did not leave the theater with my mind altered about the horrors of the Holocaust. That being said, anybody walking into this movie with Kubrikian expectations will be sorely disappointed.
June 24, 2001, 5:30 a.m. CST
For all it
June 24, 2001, 12:38 p.m. CST
by MOVIE WRITER
Who Cares if this is crap. The Corleone family is coming to my tv in DVD style.
June 24, 2001, 6:39 p.m. CST
June 24, 2001, 8:32 p.m. CST
I am so sick and tired of everybody and their mother bashing "The Mummy" and "Tomb Raider" relentlessly. Although I have not yet seen Tomb Raider, I have come to the conclusion that everyone thinks they are Ebert & Roeper. All of you people seem to be under the dilusion that every film ever made must appeal to your "greater intelligence". Every once in a while, especially during the "summer season", films have to appeal to everyone. And by the way, the Mummy Returns was the second best movie I've seen this season (Shrek is easily numero uno, and Evolution and Pearl Harbor really sucked) So leave the lowest common denominator alone already. And to prove I'm not a complete idiot, my favorite movie happens to be Dr. Strangelove the greatest black comedy of all time.
June 24, 2001, 11:08 p.m. CST
by Oliver L.
Speaking about Pinocchio as some kind of pattern for A.I. and about CLOSE ENCOUNTERS
June 24, 2001, 11:10 p.m. CST
by Oliver L.
But, seriously: I think there are 4 ways that a movie working from the Pinocchio- pattern could work: 1. Collodi
June 25, 2001, 2:34 p.m. CST
by The Squrl King
Let me start by saying, great review Moriarty. A.I. is a dream we all once had. All of us have a unified fantasy that somewhere in the future a movie will come along which will define our generation. Citizen Kane did it. Lawrence of Arabia did it. Star Wars, ROTLA, and Jaws did it. These movies hit so hard that it rillped for years through tinseltown. It's been too long though. All of us are looking to the Mount Rushmore faces we hold so dear, asking them, "Please, rock the boat!" But no dice this time. We all shivered in anticipation when we heard Steve and Stanley would share a vision. We all dug through endless reports, waiting for some sliver of hope. We all prayed to the mighty Orson Welles, "Please! This is too much! Just give us some sign that this will be the movie to end our suffering!" But no. Now we can shed a tear, because it seems like our prayers have been shunned. This is not the movie we are waiting for. This is not the second coming on the Hollywood hills. This is a false prophet. Steven and Stanley just didn't mesh like we had hoped. Oh well. It's time for all of us to sit back, curl back our fingers, and sit and wait for the next shining star to deliver us to a true masterpiece. But don't fear!Just because A.I. wont relieve the world of it's hnger and hatred, does it mean we should picket the lines with signs reading, "A.I.= Artificial Intent?" No. I will stand in line for as long as it takes, with my eight dollars in fist, waiting to get my ticket. This may not be the film we have all hoped for, but none-the-less, it is something we can all enjoy. Don't worry those of faith, the film is coming. None of us truly know where it is. None of us truly know when it will happen. But we ALL know, deep down inside, that it IS coming. I have faith. -THE SQURL KING
June 27, 2001, 5:11 p.m. CST
I say it jumped the shark when David and Gigolo Joe go to visit Dr. Know. The film was never quite the same after that.
June 29, 2001, 4:37 p.m. CST
...for saving me $5. AI sounds even more worthless than I figured for months that it would be. Curiousity almost made me fork up the money, but your review reached me just in time. Thanks
June 29, 2001, 7:19 p.m. CST
I don't know what movie the rest of you saw - but I thought A.I. was GREAT! I saw it today, first showing at 12 noon. I'm recommending it to everyone. My favs - I LIKED TEDDY! "You will break". Also, I loved the underwater scenes. My fav quote from the flick - "Don't imprint unless you are entirely sure."
June 30, 2001, 1:35 p.m. CST
I too kept from reading Moriarty's review or anyone else's until I had seen A.I. and I couldn't be happier with myself. The movie is indeed great; it's entertaining, it takes you away and wraps you up in it's own world. Mori, you r being petty and with enough time you will realize that. It is obvious u went into the theater jaded, expecting something only for u if for anybody. I am glad u r not in a position to have rejected the screenplay, or even have executed it. A.I will stand on it's own as a wonderful sci-fi fairy tale long after your rants have ceased to irritate. To everyone, see the movie, make up your own mind.
July 1, 2001, 3:33 p.m. CST
I saw A.I. yesterday and i agree with most of Moriarty's criticism. The movie fails on many levels, despite the first-rate special effects and the masterful performance of lead actor Osment. Large flaws with A.I. are painfully present in two of the great pillars of story-telling: action (what happens) and character (who does it happen to). The narrative never settles into an organic flow of activity because it relies on too many set-pieces that feel hermetically sealed from one another. The re-introduction of the human son into the family's life is done abruptly and jarringly. We are just as confused as David as to where this sudden change came from. Of course, Martin's return is an essential plot device, but like so much of the film's narrative mechanics, it is accomplished seemingly without concern for how it affects the way the story unfolds for the viewer. To borrow from the language of A.I., the story itself can be "mecha," but the effect the story has on the viewer must be "orga." The movie's greatest flaw is with character. At the very beginning the the film, A.I. announces, with characteristic lack of subtlety, the theme it intends to tackle: can a machine get a human being to love it? Pretty weighty stuff, but also pretty emotional stuff, especially since the kind of love it chooses to explore this theme through is the deepest and most profound love of all--the love between mother and child. But neither mother nor child are allowed the space, time (despite the two and a half hour length of the movie) or story range to give love a chance. When David accidently harms Martin, we are never shown the aftermath of the incident, just the final decision. Did David realize the full consequences of what he had done? Did his "mother" anguish over her decision? Who knows? Again and again the makers of this movie make the wrong choices in what to show us (and too often, directly tell us), and what to keep hidden. You get to know a fictional character much the same way you get to know a person in real life: you see them do and say different things, in different ways, in different situations. If they do the same sort of things, or do them in the same ways, you never really get to know them: they remain a stranger to you. You can't tell a story about someone who remains a stranger. If they're still a stranger at the end of the story, then no story was told. Where does the "blame" for all this disappointing filmmaking lie? I'll tell you where it doesn't lie: this movie is not the fault of Stanley Kubrick, even though I'm not big fan of his work. Dead men don't make films. The responsibility for A.I. rests squarely with Steven Spielberg, particularly given the enormous creative control he had with this film. He wrote it, he directed it, he co-produced it, and it was his studio that made the film. You don't get much more say with modern Hollywood big-budget filmmaking than Spielberg had with A.I., Kubrick's legacy involvement notwithstanding. However, I think the ultimate fault with this movie is related to the third great pillar of story-telling: reason (why it happens). There is a fundamental flaw in A.I.'s metaphysical underpinnings which seems to have affected all parts of the film's story. Love--true, selfless love--between humans is one of the greatest and most wonderful forces in the universe. Artists of all ages (until the 20th century, which witnessed a widespread death of love) have venerated this love. Judeo-Christian tradition even sees this love as a reflection of the love that inspired creation itself. But that sort of love is a unique love, one that can only be shared by spirits that dwell in flesh and blood (or the heavens). When we seek to create something that will love us, our creative labours are one-sided and selfish--without love. Whatever we create may give us something that looks and sounds like love, but will ultimately only be a simulation of love, and will always be recognized as artificial and empty. Love, true love, is not a toy, and we all sense that, even if we don't consciously recognize it. David's love cannot be real, and our love toward him cannot be real, because it is not the selfless love we have for our real children, who represent our highest contribution to creation, to the world of spirit. I think what crippled this film from its inception is the "A" in "A.I."--the "Artificial." We may be able to show affection for mechanical contructions like C3PO and the "good" Terminator (sort of like the affection you would have for a beloved car of youth), but when we are asked to show the greatest love in the universe for something that ultimately has no soul, we know it can't be done, that it is genuinely impossible. And that emotional and spiritual reality dissolves every effort Speilberg makes to tell a good story, as if he were trying to build a sandcastle in the rain.
July 1, 2001, 9:08 p.m. CST
(I can't tell if there are spoilers or not in what follows, but who cares -- if you read this article, you're already spoiled, in ways that you're not even aware of, especially if you believe it.) This review only makes sense if you haven't seen the film -- if you haven't, then all of Moriarty's analysis seems to have some weight, seem to have some gravity. Once you have seen the film and then return to this review (just like he implores us to in the beginning of the article), all of his arguments fall apart, since he's not reviewing the film, he's reviewing what he wants the film to be and, in turn reviewing his own disappointment. AI is not about story, even though its story can be compelling, it is about ideas -- namely, what it means to love, what it means to be human. The fact that David's love is hard-wired into his very being is crucially important, because, in a sense, isn't that what it means to be a child? Children love their parents, particularly their mothers, unconditionally and never question that love, at least when they're a child. That's the same situation with David, who will do anything to win the love and approval of his mother, who is torn between the creepiness of David and affection for a creature that is devoted to her. David knows that he is not a real boy, but believes that's the only obstacle to his acceptance -- that if he could just leap this hurdle, become real, he'd love her better, purer than Martin (who is hardly sympathetic, and reliant on machinery to walk, which is sort of an important point, as well). That's the central dilemma of the movie -- and, to his credit, Spielberg does not sentimentalize David's plight, no matter what critics may say. David is unsettling throughout the film, not just in his single-minded quest to achieve his mother's love (that, not meeting the Blue Fairy, is the real journey), but in how he achieves it. David is never romanticized, and he is often presented rather scarily, even if you sympathize with the intent behind his actions. He winds up achieving his goal, at least superficially, yet it isn't particularly satisfying for the audience, since they realize its price, just as they realize what the subplots and subthemes about existence really mean. So where does Moriarty go wrong? By assuming that AI is supposed to be clear and explicit, a movie with a very clear purpose and conclusion. Spielberg certainly leans toward that approach throughout his career, but Kubrick never did and here, Spielberg essentially filmed the movie Kubrick wanted to make. That is absolutely true -- check out each of the links that Drew posted in his review and you'll realize that Kubrick WANTED a film with the Blue Fairy, WANTED David to meet with his mother in the final scene, because that's where the emotional and intellectual thread of the story is leading to. And that's what Spielberg has given us. No, this is not exactly the film that Kubrick would have made -- John Williams' score would have been the first to go, along with little flourishes, like Robin Williams' Dr. Know -- but the INTENT is exactly the same. Based on every article, this is very close to what Kubrick wanted to film (yes, Sarah Maitland wanted an alcoholic mother, but Kubrick rejected the idea, and rightly so, since that undercuts the basic thrust of the story), and that removes the central argument of most criticisms -- that AI is a compromise that isn't faithful to either Kubrick or Spielberg. That is ridiculous, because this is Kubrick's story, told by Spielberg, which is what Kubrick wanted, according to almost every report. So, that means AI should be criticized for its ideas and execution of those ideas. Some might say that Moriarty did that, but that's not true -- he simply tries to deal with his own grief and disappointment, which stems from unreasonable, deluded expectations. Frankly, I can't tell what the hell Moriarty wanted from AI based on his review -- all I can tell is that he sure as hell didn't want this. And, since it didn
July 2, 2001, 7:16 p.m. CST
The link provided above doesn't go to a laudatory review by world-class film critic Andrew Sarris. That review is by Rex Reed. Oops. Loses some luster, huh? Sarris has another article (non-A.I.-related) listed on the home page right above Rex Reed's A.I. review. I wish Sarris would review this film -- I'd love to get his take on it. I was quite disappointed and think that Moriarty makes a lot of very valid points, though I take issue with one -- I certainly wouldn't have dropped the Teddy character from the script. Teddy was the one character I felt I could get attached to without getting kicked in the teeth by this confused, reasonably sadistic, nihilist film. The first thing I said when I left this movie (after "did I hallucinate that?") was "I liked Teddy a lot." Probably not what Spielberg was hoping would be the reaction of viewers leaving the film...
July 3, 2001, 11:08 a.m. CST
by The Cars
What movie did Moriarty watch? I though the motivations for the FLESH FAIR were spelled out rather well, and the technician guy didn't gain a "conscience"-- don't you get it? He saw that this robot was different-- something to be examined, not trashed. What a whiney boy "review." And to think Moriarty would have gotten rid of Teddy. Boy, what a genius screenwriter he would have made.
July 3, 2001, 2:35 p.m. CST
I really did(don't read this if you haven't seen the film). I didn't think it would affect me the way it did, but I was really moved. I know that you've put a lot of thought into your review but a lot of it leaves me speechless. I want to say that you missed one very big thing. You didn't like David. I don't presume to know what was needed to make you like him, but for me it was Haley's performance from the moment he asked "what do those words mean, mommy?" I cared about him. You were bothered by all those people that died in the past? Hmm. Well that's just one more reason to hate that narrator. To me, however, that's like not being able to like Raiders of the Lost Ark because the Holocaust is going on in that time period and the movie doesn't address it. Moriarty, you were on a completely different level from this film. I'm not really defending the movie here, so much as trying to explain your hatred of so many things I loved. I don't wish to say your opinion is superior(or inferior) to mine but if you found David to be an unsympathetic and unlikable character then you are lost to the charm of the movie. I'm sorry for you, but it's Spielberg who should really listen. Spielberg failed to get you, and that's to his discredit. For me, the movie was a better experience. The scene in the flesh fair when David escapes the acid actually made me cry! I don't cry in movies, and I am well aware that it was a manipulative moment. Hell, I even questioned why the "Guy Who Hates Robots," was dumb enough not to tear David's face off and prove he was a robot before the scene got ugly. But at that point, I wanted nothing more than to see David escape--even though I knew he wasn't in real danger. I bought it, damn my eyes. I guess I have you to thank in a way, the first part of your acid biting review lowered my expectations and made me afraid I'd hate the film or be depressed by it one way or another. Instead I found it to be the best film this summer, this year even seeing as I have yet to see the much talked about Momento. But I think it's safe to say that AI is powerful if you care about David. It isn't flawless. I cared about him and I still thought there were mistakes in the film. Where do the technician and his daughter disappear to--were they even really necessary in the end other than to establish that no one has ever seen a mecha like David until then? I think David WAS a powerful image, but no one had a chance to use him to promote Mechas by that point. But later, why didn't Dr. Hobby find David under the water? It shouldn't have been THAT hard to figure out! The bit where we learn David had been a real boy that became a robot thanks to Dr. Hobby DID have an impact, Mori, but it came at the wrong time in the film. We shouldn't have seen that until David was in Hobby's office. And is this David's story or not? If it is, and it should have been, the movie should have started with the robots in the future replaying his memory. That way the 2000 year jump wouldn't have been such a kick in the head(although I still think the narrator's to blaim). We didn't need Dr. Hobby at the beginning, the bit where Monica reads to Martin could have been shown through David's eyes, and we didn't even need Giggalo Joe's murder story background since he's taken out of the movie in so arbitrary a way later(imagine if we had never known why Joe was wanted, or if he's innocent or not). And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, why that damn narrator? He fails to make the movie feel like a fairy tale come to life. He's just intrusive. David unifies the story, we didn't need the narrator! I don't know why Spielberg relied on it to tell so much. There is not a single thing that the narrator said that couldn't have been shown with only minor changes. But otherwise, Moriarty, your overall rant about the Manahattan imagery and Rouge City and Robin's Dr. Know and O'Connor's perfromance, it reads like the exact opposite of my reactions. You speak of these things with disdain, where I was enchanted. I know you're evil but I couldn't disagree with you more about this film's worth(ie that no one should have bothered). I think your expectations were a bit high, sure, but I'm sure you've thought of that and my saying won't bring you any comfort. But I think you should see the film again, maybe a few more times, I know I will. I don't know if I'll like it as much on later viewings. Movies that appeal to the emotion do not have as much staying power, usually, as those that appeal to the intellect(which was always part of Kubrick's popluarity and the reason for Spielberg's detractors). You're right, the ending wasn't so much a resolution as it was an ending to David's beginning. His emotional arch with his mother, wanting to be told he was loved, was what that scene was "about," but it was only an ending to his search. I wanted to know what's next for David. Okay, if the damn narrator hadn't said anything it would have been a semi-ambiguous with him closing his eyes as if he were shutting down, but it's all pretty straightfoward. I wanted more, and it wasn't satisfying to be left that way as it was at the end of Field of Dreams or Castaway. But my point, see the movie again, Mori, and if you still don't like it in a few years then, well, sorry you didn't have the experience I did. I think, however, I'm glad I didn't have the experience you did. Being disappointed is never fun. Now go lift your spirits and push Sherlock Holmes off a waterfall after leading him through a series of fiendishly crafted plots of intrigue designed to confuse the shit out of him.
July 3, 2001, 8:44 p.m. CST
by The Cars
The arc of the film is that human (William Hurt) wants to play god and create a robot that can dream, and at the end of the film, man's creation supposedly does dream. By not bookending the film as you suggest with the "aliens" (who Moriarty informs us are actually more advanced mechas), Spielberg is able to pay homage to Kubrick by presenting the film in major sections, a la 2001, CLOCKWORK ORANGE, FULL METAL JACKET, etc. Also, I think Kubrick would have liked Spielberg's use of voice over narration. Check out BARRY LYNDON again and think about it. And Gigolo Joe is set up to be a criminal, just as David is set up by his human half-brother to appear monstrous to his parents. Thus are they further linked as "spiritual" brothers.
July 10, 2001, 1:02 p.m. CST
I agree with everything Moriarty said. And I suspect the real reason Kubrick never made this movie is because -- consciously or unconsciously -- he knew the story wasn't "there" yet. David isn't programmed to "love" -- he's programmed to demand love. Scene after scene, that's all the little techno-tyke does. Love is ultimately about giving. Didn't the Beatles sing, "The love you take is equal to the love you make"? David is no different than an automobile with a voice chip that continually demands gasoline and a wax job. Now, that's a scary thing, and certainly worthy of a story, if you can recognize what you've created. For example, who are the sick humans who would mistakenly program a robot this way and proclaim it "real" and "perfect"? Wm. Hurt's character -- who shockingly deals with the death of his real son by mass-producing plastic lookalikes, and doesn't blink at the sudden sight of a violently beheaded David doll -- is a rich, intellgient, sick and pathetic individual worthy of exploration and, ultimately, pity. But do we get any of this? No. Hurt's doctor is presented as a loving "God" and his creation is repeatedly called "loving," "perfect," and "genius." Kubrick must've known on some level that these issues would have to be dealt with, and he couldn't do it. That's why he never made the movie. There's hardly a special effect in A.I. that couldn't have been pulled off 10 years ago. Spielberg, for all his talent and devotion to Kubrick, couldn't detect the serious problems inherent in this narrative. They weren't even a blip on his radar. He wants us to love David but David is a little monster, a wind-up toy that won't wind down. The movie BLADERUNNER dealt with these same issues (what does it take to be human?) 20 years ago, and did so with grace, intellect, passion, and vision. A.I. feels stale in its first few scenes, and as our emotions run directly counter to what Spielberg intends us to feel, we start to feel like shattered robots ourselves. Wandering a vast and glittering landscape, looking for just a little bit of love.
July 11, 2001, 10:24 a.m. CST
by Wayward Rogue
For me, "A.I." is as close to a perfect movie that I have seen. To me, it was enough story and ideas to make me think, enough special effects to dazzle me and the material interesting enough to make it entertaining. I think it strikes the right balance between thought provoking and sentimental. I disagree with most of the problems Mori has with the film. It is said many times that humans and robots are not having a happy coexistence, so it seems natural that "Flesh Fairs" would exist. Without citing obvious examples, history is filled with groups of people that try to eliminate what they feel is "unworthy" or "not to their liking". David does mention The Blue Fairy very often--kids do that! Especially when it comes to a parent's approval, kids will often be obsessed. How many movies have been made about kids trying to fix the marriage of their parents? If the one person your life centers on leaves you, you would be going to the end of the world to find the solution too. Also, I find it ironic that you say you wanted more things left unexplained and left to the audience, but didn't make the connection that the beings at the end were mecha and not aliens. Gigolo Joe has the memorable speech about robots being there after the end of the world. Their faces were like monitors and their circuits were visible through the skin. The camera kept showing the image of the corporate logo of the robotics company. They knew, just like researchers know today, that the future leans toward stream lining and sleeking of things. There is a reason why "aliens" would have that shape. It is an attempt towards a perfect body. If humans are not around, why keep the human like skin and look? Even when David is first brought to the house, his first image in the door is a tall and slender like image. To me, it was obvious. Also, the ending to me is not a happy ending, it is bittersweet. He is not really getting what he wants, he is getting a kinda "virtual reality". Things are touchable and seem real, but still in a virtual like environment. It plays perfectly with the whole theme of the movie. The super mechas want to give him want he wants (they have compassion for him, something humans did not), but since they can't, they give him an "artificial" one. I don't think David even left the site of the blue fairy in the ice. The mechas did it all there at the site. You never see Teddy getting out of the sub. Maybe the whole thing with the hair is just in David's (artificial) mind. The mechas are trying to put everything on David's "child" level. They say they can give him Monica if they have something, his mind brings in Teddy (in his "mind", he remembers Teddy being there where the hair fell), they have to obey the "child like rules" but give him a restriction. I don't know. Maybe I am reaching. That is one possible thought I have, the most far fetched. But since I know that the material was discussed by Kubrick, I try to read into many different scenarios. Also, am I the only one who noticed that the ligh fixture at the dinner table in the beginning was like a halo over David (innocence)and then at Dr. Hobby's office in NY when he finds out he is not special, a similar light fixture above his head but not connecting -- a broken halo (innocence lost). I haven't heard it mentioned. I love this film. I am a huge Kubrick fan and I think he would be happy with this film. He wanted Spielberg to direct for a reason. I think it is the perfect balance of both film makers. The film to me is very thought provoking and that is not something you can say too often. I have seen "Memento", but I still think "A.I." is my favorite. "Memento" made me think, but it felt more "gimmicky". My second favorite of the year.
Dec. 23, 2005, 7:15 p.m. CST
Dec. 24, 2005, 4:29 a.m. CST
A.I. wasn't a bad movie. Still isn't. Now shoo! Go to other talkbacks
Dec. 27, 2005, 12:03 p.m. CST
by joe b
I'm amazed how no one really liked the extended ending (in the distant future). As if the 'epilogue' should have been entirely left out; it would have been more satisfying to just end it with the submerged 'pinnochio' desparately wishing to become a real boy: cue fade out and credits. But that actual ending puts this film in a unique category. It was a profound new approach to defining the narrative stance in a movie. Kubrick was always exploring narrative problems, so he certainly deserves all the credit for this one as well. As with many of Kubrick's films (particularly 2001, Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining), I am left with the sensation that I have never experienced that kind of story from that kind of angle before. Why? Because that ending introduced a crucial element to the story: this entire story was a fairy-tale style myth as told through the perspective of a far-in-the-future A.I. 'society' who had no direct interactions with the human race. The story was told based upon reviving and restructuring the dreams and ambitions of the first self-aware A.I. creation, David. It puts a whole new spin on the rest of the film: it explains why the human characters seemed so flatly soap operatic, why the story had the Pinnochio tale to it, and why we seemed forced to always have to sympathize with the cutsie A.I. boy and other mecha characters only, portrayed as just being misunderstood pariahs. The whole story was an intentionally A.I.-centric hagiography! The 2000-years-in-the-future A.I. society were already self-aware, and they wanted to be creative just like the distant human creators of their 'ancestors' were creative in those long forgotten societies. Since every society and culture needs historical myths and legends to provide an identity for its members, this film's first two acts WAS their story of their origins. And they cannot invent out of the blue, they borrowed heavily from what they knew about the old storytelling methods of the human race, in whose image they were created, to try to explain how the first self-aware A.I. came about. Thus they borrowed heavily elements from fairy-tales like Pinnochio and mix it with something resembling the plight of the Jews leading up to the holocaust, and also borrow from the bible's narrative to build their own Genesis story. There's even a flood involved (melted ice caps), Cain and Abel (David smashing his replica to pieces), heck its a stretch but maybe even a Jonah fish story -- David, disappointed with his creator, submerges into the deep waters, but instead of dying in anger and agony he's carried about by fish to where he has a vision of the beauty and grace of the Blue Fairy. Quite genius if you think about it. Every great film extends your imagination well beyond the borders of the opening and closing frames. A.I., despite the Spielbergisms, succeeds in doing just that. We are given enough information to imagine a hypothetical era way after human extinction, where self-aware A.I. begin to reconstruct their own past and that through the ancient storytelling tools of humanity. The story is told by A.I. for an A.I. audience, an example of their ways to enrich their own culture through art and other gestures they began to mimic from what they knew of the human race.
Dec. 29, 2005, 9:20 a.m. CST
Moriarty obviously didn't see the same film I saw. I love this movie. LOVE it. With every fiber of my being. I can't think of many other films that have had such an emotional impact on me as this one, and the last scene in the film is one of the most beautiful, bittersweet endings in all of cinema. The "worst ending of Spielberg's career"?? Moriarty, it's truly a shame that you had to judge this film from the perspective of high atop Mount Spielberg. The arrogance of your review, of how "Spielberg just didn't get it," etc. is truly sickening. No, YOU didn't get it. Which is fine. But it doesn't for a second mean that Spielberg failed or that he bumbled his way through trying to "figure out what story to tell." For me, he got it almost exactly right. And I love him for making it just the way he did. If medical science would only make it possible for me to bear more Oriental children that he could adopt, I would germinate myself toot-sweet.
Oct. 25, 2010, 10:43 p.m. CST
just as I remember. ah good times!
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