People with reasonable intelligence, maturity, and patience should thoroughly enjoy this great work from director Steven Spielberg, while people possessing opposite characteristics may loathe it. Both of these audience types will have no problem sparking conversation about this worthy film starring Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, Pay It Forward) in a superb performance as David, a revolutionary product made by Professor Allen Hobby, well played by William Hurt, and his company Cybertronics. This “mecha” boy has new human like abilities that surprise the “orgas” he encounters. Mecha stands for mechanical as humans are referred as “orgas”, short for organics. David exists to provide families a social alternative amid a futuristic world hindered by pregnancy limitations.
Spielberg uses several film methods and techniques, such as a graphic match, throughout A.I. which heighten the existing drama to new heights. Memorable images in a pool sequ,ence and camera shots showing characters through altered glass combine with carefully planned lighting and set designs to produce some great moments in this film. Note how Spielberg uses his camera in detail during the urban sequences and how he focuses on David during his “initiation”.
David’s simple dialogue, the tension of completing seemingly safe daily tasks, and his affectionate and logical notes put several moral and ethical issues into the plot as David struggles to find his place in the world. Notice Osment’s acting skills especially during interactions with his new family. David finds a home with Monica and Henry Swinton who yearn to fill the void of the absence of their son, Martin, who exists in a coma. Frances O’Connor plays Monica who has a hard time adjusting to David at first, but then creates a bond with him, even after some jolting experiences. Henry, played by Sam Robards, initiates David’s entrance to help Monica get on with her life, but then becomes disenchanted with him after tense situations stemming from innocent situations that turn out badly.
Enter Jude Law’s character, Gigolo Joe, who introduces the audience into a wider scope of this futuristic world. Joe represents a tour guide of sorts who encounters David for duration of the film’s remaining exploits that take them from dangerous “Flesh Fairs” to “the place where lions weep”. Law doesn’t get much character development because his character functions to give you a basic insight to the world from the “mecha’s” point of view which pushes David to discover himself even more as he finds an ultimate conclusion.
Notable talents Janusz Kaminski, cinematographer, and Stan Winston, special robotics effects, put an amazing amount of effort into their crafts. The entire film crew, especially creative artists, makes the film so emotional and realistic because the visual elements in the film have such a great impact on the audience. The environments and settings, both interior and exterior, make a compelling portrait on the screen.
After several writers took a crack at A.I. while the late Stanley Kubrick (who received as concept credit) was developing the film, only one person from this group got credit for the finished product, Ian Watson for screen story. Spielberg himself came up with the screenplay, his first writing credit since Close Encounters of the Third Kind, based on the short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” by Brian Aldiss. Notice how most elements presented in the beginning (character observations, shapes, and dialogue) help bring closure (explanation of all elements presented) in the last part of this two hour and 25 minute sci-fi epic.
Narration talents from Ben Kingsley and Robin Williams coupled with the voice talents of Meryl Streep and Jack Angel, as the unforgettable Teddy character, strengthen the film’s sense of wonderment in the already appealing plot. The musical score from famous composer and frequent Spielberg collaborator John Williams puts together an incredible score mixed with heart pulling movements that enhances the strong emotional impacts on the audience.
Spielberg amuses the audience with bonuses such as an entertaining entrance into Rouge City and a few notable cameos, but concentrates mainly on David’s journey through the intricate plot and how his existence lifts the film into intellectual debate, imaginative scenarios, and unpredictable experiences. Some foreshadowing elements in the first half of the film are predictable in the short term (particularly one warning that’s repeated more than once to the audience) but you probably won’t guess where that element will ultimately lead you to in the plot.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the world” says one of the characters during an emotional highpoint. How true. It would’ve been nice to get more insight into how mechas and humans existed, especially social rules and background, but would only provide interesting details not essential to the steady paced plot.
A.I. presents awe-inspiring visuals and colorful backgrounds with many religious, philosophical and economical overtones shown through the mechanical and organic characters. Highly recommended and rated PG-13 for sexual content and disturbing images.