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Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama
Country: United States
Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Brendan Gleeson, Frances O’Connor, William Hurt, Sam Robards, Jake Thomas, Adrian Grenier, Ben Kingsley (voice), Robin Williams (voice), Chris Rock (voice), Ashley Scott, Kathryn Morris, Ken Leung, Michael Mantrell
Director: Steven Spielberg
Run time: 145 minutes
DVD distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
A.I. is one of those movies where the story behind it, for movie nerds, might actually be more interesting than the movie itself. A long-in-the-works project for Stanley Kubrick that was shelved when he died, the film was resurrected by Steven Spielberg and given…as it were…new life.
There are lots of moments in the movie that will feel very familiar to Kubrick fans, and many others that are quintessential Spielberg. Which kind of gives A.I. a bizarrely schizophrenic feel that I rather enjoy. While the tone of the film and the subject matter is dark and bleak and very Kubrick, the sentimentality and schmaltzy silliness (and there’s a fair bit) are vintage E.T. Spielberg.
The story of A.I. is basically an updated Pinnochio story in a Soylent Green world. Haley Joel Osment is David, a robot boy programmed to love unconditionally, and when his “parents” discover that their real, flesh-and-blood son is still alive, they abandon David in the woods like an unwanted dog. He thinks that all he must do to be accepted back into his family is become a “real boy”. His travels take him through a robot-hating torture performance a-la-Thunderdome, and a sex-for-money city populated by other robots, and he befriends a robotic gigolo (Jude Law).
I like A.I., but maybe more for the story behind it and the flashes of Kubrick than for the movie itself, which gets bogged down in sentimentality and tear-jerkiness a little too often for my liking. But whether it’s Kubrick OR Spielberg, the one thing I know is that a Blu-Ray of this movie is essential. When I got my new HD TV and Blu-Ray player last year, I bought two Blu-Rays on the way home – Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. Both these directors demand to be seen in high definition.
And now that Paramount Home Entertainment is giving us a chance to see A.I. in HD, it’s well worth it. If you have it on DVD already, it deserves an upgrade and looks absolutely amazing. If you don’t, there are better Kubrick movies (2001, Full Metal Jacket) and Spielberg movies (Saving Private Ryan, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) to get on Blu-Ray first. But I hope everyone gets around to A.I. eventually.