I saw A.I. in the theater with a friend (hi, Sarah) when it first came out, and I haven’t seen it since. As the credits rolled, I looked to my friend and asked, “What the hell was that?” I certainly hated the movie for just about every reason a person can hate a movie, but that was a long time ago, and this is why I chose it as a Second Chance Review.
- I didn’t remember exactly what happened in the movie after all of this time, so I’ll recall what I do remember disliking about it. Firstly, A.I. was mind-bogglingly boring. I was close to getting up and walking out at a few points – something I saw others do in my theater.
- I don’t remember why exactly, but I do remember not liking the main character, David. I didn’t care about him, and his death wouldn’t have mattered to me at all.
- I liked Jude Law.
- I loved Teddy.
- It was very weird.
- The movie just wouldn’t end! It reaches a couple of points at which I thought it would be over, but nope.
So, those were my thoughts then, and these are my thoughts now…
It appears that A.I. didn’t quite fare as well as my first Second Chance Review. My initial thoughts on the movie were not only verified, but amplified. Every bullet point I made above is still true, so let’s explore them a little deeper.
The movie is definitely boring, but that’s because I just don’t care about anyone in it. Well, okay, not quite. I think Jude Law brings a lovable charm to his character, and little Teddy was adorable and fun – but they were it. I would have liked to have seen the movie starring them – they were the only likable ones in the entire thing. Sadly, though, we have to endure the lead character, David, taking us through the movie. He wasn’t cute or fun, he was annoying – and more than that… he was just darn creepy. What the heck is the point in making a little boy robot so unnerving if I’m supposed to be rooting for him? Nevermind that the entire movie is a horrible tragedy for this character, but even that fact can’t make me care. At a fair where he is almost destroyed for the amusement of people, I really wished he was. Other, more likable robots are destroyed, and it’s kind of sad. Seeing David’s head explode would have been highly entertaining :-).
David wasn’t the only horrible character, either. The family that adopts him consists of people who I have no interest in watching. The mom, who becomes the quest of the entire movie, comes across as a robot, herself. I do remember watching it for the first time and believing that she actually was one for quite a while into the movie. The dialogue she shares with her husband or David is stilted and odd, and her reactions are so bizarre that I felt like the movie was TRYING to make a point about it. I can’t really decipher what kind of point WAS trying to be made, however.
So, not only did I not care about these main characters, I also couldn’t tell you exactly what the purpose of this movie was. I know the director and writer, Steven Spielberg, can say what his intentions were, but they sure didn’t come across to me at all. That’s funny, too, because he is a very surface level director as far as personal motivations in his stories go. He has said that he wanted the audience to question how much compassion they could feel for a sentient robot, and that perhaps the poor reviews were because people were angry at being posed such a question. No, Steven, I think the audience’s reaction is because you made a bad movie.
Now, about that ending. I can say that I remembered it being much more painful and long the first time around. Likewise, what most originally assumed were aliens (as did I), actually seem to be a highly advanced race of technology. Spielberg has confirmed this himself, but it again was a horrible choice to leave it so visually confusing. I know a large factor in what this movie is supposedly about is the advancement of technology, so leaving something like this open to such interpretation is foolish. Perhaps that actually WASN’T a large factor in Spielberg’s mind – who knows. I know my complaints are often vague and general here, but that’s because the problems are made up of the little things… the details and Spielberg’s poor handling of them. These “advanced beings” that appear at the end of the movie are a perfect example. When we first see them the movie employs subtitled dialogue to show that they communicate through some non-verbal means. They even touch each other and are able to share one vision between one another in this way. However, a short while later, as a group of them are alone watching David, one of them speaks to another out loud. Why? Not only is the movie itself filled with odd directorial decisions, but the story is also filled with character choices and motivations that seem completely unnatural and bizarre. Heck, the entire starting point of David’s journey comes when his “mom” decides it’s better to dump him in the wilderness, horrified and alone, than to let him simply be shut down and destroyed. We can’t blame her, though – her rational human sanity has already been put into question earlier… not that it seems to be done on purpose ;-).
A.I. isn’t nearly as bad as I remember… it’s worse. With The Notebook, I was at least able to come to peace with my prior distaste of the movie and find some decent understanding of what the movie was. I attempted to do this with A.I., but I simply couldn’t do it. Every time I began to feel like something good was coming out of the movie, it took a bizarre turn or left the moment empty and unfulfilled. I haven’t been able to recommend the movie since I first saw it, and I still can’t.
So far this semi-personal semi-social experiment of giving Second Chance Reviews is 1 for 2. I didn’t like The Notebook, but I’m now able to dislike it for the right reasons. I wonder what’ll happen with the tie-breaking third review ;-).