A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Rating: ★★★☆☆

A.I. starts by introducing us to a time where the world has gotten smaller for mankind. Water has risen and has engulfed much land. But as resources depleted, technology increased, and humans have found a way to cope with the circumstances. “Mechas” have been invented. They are robots that resemble our appearance and were created to perform many of our tasks.

“Mechas” would be useful for our economy and industry because they consume no food and need no sleep. Their purpose is to serve, and it is in our convenience that we don’t need to repay them nor serve them back. Maybe a few oil changes and an occasional trip to the carwash, but that’s about it.

A.I. offers intriguing ideas, and Professor Hobby of Cybertronics aims to expand that idea by proposing a new robot, a new product: A child. He explains to his colleagues that this Mecha child would be designed to look, act, and love as a child, and that he would love unconditionally. Twenty months has passed, and the first of its kind is created. His name, or should I say “its” name, is David.

David is taken to a married couple who is grieving over the disease of their son, who is, at the moment, frozen until a cure is discovered. At first, they are unsure of the notion of having a machine for a child, but because of their current emotional distress, and because David and his cute little robot eyes is played by the adorable Haley Joel Osment, Henry and Monica decide to welcome him in the family.

Things are going well for dear David, and Monica is unconditionally loved. But things change when a cure is discovered for Martin (Monica’s biological son), and is brought home. After an unfortunate accident within the family, Monica is forced to give up David, and is left alone in the woods. David is sad, and as he reminisces about the story of Pinocchio which he heard in bedtime, he goes on a quest to become a real boy, and win Monica back. A.I. is largely about David and his goal, which is what prevents the movie from achieving its greater potential.

A.I. asks its audience to lay the majority of their attention, emotions, and opinions on David. There are scenes and moments where our response to them requires us to forget that David is still the machine that he is. Remember that Mechas were created for people, and that their existence is to make our lives more comfortable. During Martin’s absence, wasn’t Monica’s pain relieved during David’s stay? We know that David was created to love, but was he designed with the desire and the need to be loved back? It is rather hard to involve ourselves with a hero who is driven by a love that is programmed. People are driven by emotions and the decisions that result from them, and there lies a better movie.

In movies like this one, people are generally more interesting than the machines. Even if the movie follows the “life” of a machine, it should ultimately tell something about people. One of the most captivating moments in A.I. involves a sequence where young David ends up in a show where failing Mechas are destroyed. For entertainment purposes, a Mecha is shot out of a canon, burned through a ring of fire, and shattered through spinning blades. So much for recycling.

It’s been said that humans act negatively towards things that they are threatened with. In this case, they violently deactivate machines that are capable of lasting much longer than humans if provided with the right parts and replacements. The movie could have stayed on that path and gone deeper, but it always finds its way back into David’s territory, as it prepares us for an ending that is too contrived and sentimental. The movie falls apart in its final minutes.

Despite its problems, I can’t seem to give A.I. a negative rating. It has enough ideas to appeal an audience. It projects many visuals that will cause fascination and wonder. It contains actors that are competent. It was created by filmmakers (Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick) who are ambitious and intelligent. There’s a greater movie in here, and it can be found somewhere outside of David and his cute little robot eyes.

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A.I. Artificial Intelligence