Please distribute this URL as you see fit. By Ted Baldwin
Amusing, isn't it?
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A. I." It is

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Very much anticipated Kubrick-Spielberg melange'. The two stars is for anyone looking for serious Kubrick-like sci-fi. It rates four stars of five for production quality. (Minus one for using HK's from Terminator as flying vehicles and Robin Williams as voice of wacky know-it-all computer.)
Weak and shallow. I liked it. With reservation. It just needed to do more, be more. It is like a film looking for a serious plot.
A.I. is really nicely done, but i wish it had been released 20 years ago, when the ideas were fresher, more fictiony.

Where I wanted a kick-ass story about evil artificial intelligence and hw humans are destroying themselves with it (Terminator) I got a smarmy victim film about how a little "boy" computer wanted only to be loved (like a real boy), and the self-destruciton of humans has nothing to do with the AI kid.

He/it interacted with humans, giving the illusion of life, but his limited intelligence, locked-in programming, and pre-programmed soul made growth and change - two vital elements of love - an impossibility.

They did manage to get the co-dependency issue down pat, though, but that is not healthy, just like it is not healthy for a kid to sit around 2000 years waiting for the Blue Fairy to make his mom come contrivedly "home" and love him.

And I do not even want to explore correlations to the Second Coming of Christ, though I am sure I could work some variations on the Madonna and Blue Fairy.

I have been trying to write something cohesive about the film for almost twenty days, but I have not been able to summarize my problem with the film until now.

The Problem: There just is not much to talk about!

The boy has a limited intelligence, so he is never any threat to the humans, his "love" is the result of careful programming, but it never seems to be anything other than that, and his final wish, to have a perfect day with his mom, is realized and then he dies? It was not clear what happened then, whether he obtained a soul or consciousness, or just turned off.

I think Spielberg was trying so hard to make a nice film that he forgot all about making an interesting or controversial one. Even the sex robots are sort of mundane, and do little more than set themselves up as comically relieving patsies for evil people.

And people are the real villains here, no doubt. More of that earth worship crap - man is hostile to Mother Nature, etc. (Tell that to the Sumatran Volcano which wiped out all but about 5 thousand members of our species 75,000 years ago).

Nothing is really done with the idea of AI until the end, and then it makes no difference because all humans are already dead.

There is some pseudo-scientific quantum mechanical mumbo jumbo that is clearly contrived to explain how they can only bring back a human for one day. Totally out of place. It would be like putting a 2 minute explanation of how accounting works into Schindler's List, so that we'd understand that Ben Kingsley was justified in being there.

 
Someone on TV said they already heard of a story where an android/robot looked for its lost parent - Bladerunner, 1982. It got me thinking about themes and scenes in AI.
"I already heard it"s.


1. Robot that wants to be a person (Twilight Zone)
2. Machines that think the wrong things. (2001: A Space Oddyssey and Metropolis, 1927)
3. Robots as despised underclass (Star Wars, Twilight Zone)
4. Robots that look too much like humans (West World)
5. Man wiping himself out (Most sci-fi movies since 1975)
6. Scientist using science for wrong reasons (Most sci-fi movies since 1925)
7. Commercialization of scientific discoveries is bad (Every Spielberg film).
8. Global warming is gonna kill us all (Internet 20 times a day)
9. Pinocchio's Story (Disney, of course!)
10. Manhattan underwater (WaterWorld anyone?)
11. Dr. Know's tricky "Is that a question, here's your answer you were not looking for (Green Acres, 1970, Mr. Haney charges 50 cents for information, for which he charges for answering the question "Is this information?)
12. Sex bots (Some sci-fi short story or so)
13. Horny teens needing an escort (teen sex flicks)
14. Megacity sleaze (Total Recall, Metropolis)
15. Mother abandoning her child (The Bible)
16. Jealous sibling (botling?) (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
17. Un-interested father (Outer Limits)
18. Villagers with torches. (Duh.)
19. Child on bottom of pool (The Graduate, sort of)
20. Scientists plotting with pats on back all around (Austin Powers)
21. Robin Williams in an off-camera role. (Disney films)
22. Teddy Bear with a mind of its own. (Twilight Zone TV)
23. Gigolo Joe does a little thing and music starts to play (saw it somewhere)
24. Contrived quantum mechanical mumbo jumbo (Forbidden Planet) (PS - I have a degree specializing in the use of Quantum Mechanics for Chemistry, so I know QM mumbo jumbo, and I write screenplays and I am available as a technical advisor...coastfilm@aol.com)


With Kubrick, the genius of all of the above would have been in its deliberate, thought provoking retread. He had a way of making us look at old things new, like the retro 1985 hallways in A Clockwork Orange - dressed up for the future to look like they were the dead decay of the past, with greek graffiti and whatnot. AI is not clean, cold and clinical like 2001, warm and flustery like Eyes Wide Shut, or introspective like ACO, but I think Spielberg wanted it to be all of those things - if for no other reason than to honor his friend and mentor. (Note: Mr. Spielberg - you have already surpassed Mr. Kubrick in many, many ways, which is not to say anything negative about S.K.)
From Hook to Schindler, Spielberg has bought us whimsey and dread, adventurers and a cute little alien - but he has not handled the "big picture" that well. If anything, the future of Humanity is that.

The reasons for that may be varied, but I think he wants us to do so well as a species that he is prejudiced to a single vision of how that might be. It suffused his Seaquest series, and so many of his other projects that it leaves little doubt in my mind. Capitalism bad, socialism good.


 
People that can't understand it won't understand any of it, and those who do will know it is baloney.

And what bugs me is that it is so easy to invent a scenario that works. One better idea immediately is have the boy be the only human on the planet, brought back by the Robots, and they don't know how to tell him he is the only one. We of course, would not find out until the end. If they can keep the fact that Bruce Willis is dead from us for two hours (and out of the press) (Sixth Sense), they can keep that a secret too. It would work, and be a little scary.

If I can invent a better plot, why can't they? Here is my politically paranoid answer. Working scenarios for AI involve keeping humans on the planet, admitting they can overcome their problems, and that the end result of capitalism is not total destruction of the earth.

So, to keep it all nice and PC, the true conflict is missing between human and ai. And humans have to all die off. Cheery, huh?

There are so many things wrong with AI, I can hardly contain myself.
  • The love is co-dependent
  • There is no capacity for change.
  • The kid is not a real boy, and He/it can never be one
  • He/it wants only what it wants through sick need implanted in it by sick scientist
  • Kubrick's genius framed this, but Spielberg has different eyes.
  • Movie feels pc, new age and unreal.
  • Needs grit
It is like a lame horse. Pretty to look at, just don't get on it to ride...
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