Silly use of Eliza
June 30, 2001 5:52 PM   Subscribe

Silly use of Eliza for an A.I. review. I just saw it yesterday and I don't see this as Speilberg doing Kubrick as much as Spielberg taking (stealing?) all of Philip K. Dick's tricks and putting together a movie slightly more audience friendly than Blade Runner. (more)
posted by skallas (51 comments total)

 
From the 'what it means to be human' as compared to an android theme to the speaking to the cryogenically frozen scene straight out of Ubik all I saw was a really good Philip K. Dick movie minus a the required schizophrenic character and credit.

It was very good and immersive movie and I'm not going to go into details for those who haven't seen it, but if you've read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" its like some producer said, "Lets get rid of the cop and the female android and go with a woman and a android boy."

I don't have the link but someone described this as Philip K. Dick's Pinocchio and I can't agree more.
posted by skallas at 6:02 PM on June 30, 2001


The group I went with love Kubrick and Spielberg, but this was an awful mish-mash. By the end we were laughing at the plot twists and the stark transitions in mood and atmosphere. Ultimately, we didn't emotionally care about the boy android... so the utterly slow shots of Haley Joel Osment staring at things, while epic music rises in the background, got old after the first hour.

My butt hurts after sitting in a chair for two and a half hours. This was not a butt-worthy film.

Jude Law was good as Gigolo Joe, but I found the most intriguing character to be Teddy (the teddy bear).
posted by fleener at 6:45 PM on June 30, 2001


The whole second half came out of left field, it was almost like two different movies...
posted by owillis at 7:14 PM on June 30, 2001


I just saw AI today myself. What killed me about the movies was the number of scenes that went essentially like this:

"Sit down, David. I have some exposition to tell you..."
posted by Dirjy at 7:43 PM on June 30, 2001


Lordy, I'm tired of the "robot wants to be human" theme. How many times did we have to sit through Lt Cmdr Data trying to do just this? Anytime a *robot* wants to become *human* it absolutely kills any suspense, drama, believability, and any other element that might intrigue or captivate. Worst...theme...ever.
posted by davidmsc at 7:58 PM on June 30, 2001


I just saw it last night at the Tallahassee mall. I don't think I liked it. I'm not really sure, as it sure was one purty movin' picture.

Teddy was, by far, the most likable and enjoyable character. The mother was a throw away character, good only for crying, laughing, crying and then ditching robo-kid. She disappeared. I would have been interested in Henry's reaction to her informing him that she let a robot boy loose in the woods. Feh.

Did any of you pick up on the really heavy Wizard of Oz metaphor with Dr. Know? Teddy doubled as the lion and Toto, alternating between giving David steadying courage with well-placed lines throughout the whole movie and as Toto in his whole tag-along situation. Jude was the tin man in search of a brain, and David sure as shit wasn't in Kansas anymore and Robin Williams as Dr. Know was the man behind the curtain. Or, was it traveling to the dull as shit William Hurt, the trip to Oz?

All I know is that there was plenty of stuff in that movie that was only there for the wow-factor. The nanny giving us a profile shot showing off the groovy (which it was) CGI after we'd already seen the effect with the 'droid plugging in a new eyeball. The 'droid getting drawn and quartered after we (something I'd been wanting to see for a loooong time, actually) saw Chris Rock get shot out of a cannon. David getting swooshed around by a school of fish. Not one of those three scenes were even needed at all.

That amphibious helicopter thing was the absolute coolest vehicle in a sci-fi flick I'd seen in a long time, though.
posted by Spanktacular at 8:16 PM on June 30, 2001


Unfair to dismiss this as an imitation PKD thing. The original story was by Brian Aldiss, who is one of the true greats of SF, and has been doing important and imaginative SF since the fifties. The screenplay was by Ian Watson, who is an accomplished, intellectually rigorous writer with a major list of work of his own. Dick certainly made the theme his own but he wasn't the first writer to do it.
posted by rodii at 8:55 PM on June 30, 2001


Never surprises me just how easily we criticize filmmakers. A.I. was not a perfect film, but neither are any of us.
posted by jacobris at 9:19 PM on June 30, 2001


rodii: I agree, PKD certainly made the "am I one thing, am I the opposite, whats the difference anyway...." plot his own and I think perfected it, eventually, in the slightly different take on the matter in 'A Scanner Darkly'. There are many great stories by others that use the theme though.

By the way guys, why don't you just tell us all the ending, I mean its months till it comes out over here and its not like I've been looking forward to this for years or anything!

[off topic]

I have to say, being a big Sci Fi fan, I really want someone to make a big bucks movie version of one of the culture novels by Iain M Banks and the books of Malcolm Marshall Smith. I think Dreamworks already bought the rights for most of the Smith novels. Anyone else got a favorite Sci Fi novel they think would cut it on film?
posted by davehat at 9:21 PM on June 30, 2001


. The original story was by Brian Aldiss

All three of his Supertoy stories are about 30 some pages long together. Aldiss's influence ends after 20 minutes and the rest, to me, is classic PKD identity crisis and dystopia.

I'm not saying PKD invented the android concept but the movie played out with much more than just an homage to Phil than say the akward cinematic attempt to give a real homage to Kubrick.
posted by skallas at 9:30 PM on June 30, 2001


how easily we criticize filmmakers. A.I. was not a perfect film, but neither are any of us

Whoa, there...whether any of us are *perfect* or not is not relevant here. We are voicing our opinions...and Spielberg is free to criticize our work, if he so chooses. The issue with movies is that they are works of art (or supposed to be be!) and one of the greatest human pleasures is analyzing WHY we respond to certain art in the way/s that we do. Criticizing movies is natural, and don't forget that "criticize" does not necessarily mean "tear to shreds." And when moviemakers create movies, they are, in a sense, omnipotent beings who can create entire worlds...we, as audiences, then ponder, criticize, and analyze WHY they included this aspect, or failed to recognize the impact of that angle, etc. If I created a whole new world and then invited 6 billion of my closest friends to look at it, I'd expect some feedback, too...both positive & negative. My $0.02 worth.
posted by davidmsc at 9:34 PM on June 30, 2001


I think the movie should've stopped before it actually did. The last 10 - 15 minutes bit could easily have been left out, not everyone out there needs a semi-happy ending.

What amazes me is that they built the robots without Asimov's three laws of robotics. I thought the SF community had adopted those laws to be universally true.

Oh in the first or the second Haley Joel Osment scene, he blinks once, while looking at a picture.
posted by riffola at 9:54 PM on June 30, 2001


they built the robots without Asimov's three laws of robotics.

which are...?
posted by jpoulos at 10:05 PM on June 30, 2001


What amazes me is that they built the robots without Asimov's three laws of robotics.

for those who don't know what riffola was referring to, ( I didn't ) here you go.
posted by machaus at 10:11 PM on June 30, 2001


1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

I must retire back to the nerdery now, where I can safely wallow in my porn.
posted by dong_resin at 10:11 PM on June 30, 2001


Damnit, machaus's post happened while I was typing.
posted by dong_resin at 10:13 PM on June 30, 2001


hey dong resin, get me a coke when you get there...
posted by machaus at 10:14 PM on June 30, 2001


the movie would have been greatly improved if it had ended 20 minutes earlier. the "epilogue" tainted the ideas with an emotional fluffiness which greatly reduced the possible impact. the movie is pretty, though.

the story on which it was based, Brian Aldiss's Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, is here.
posted by isildur at 10:31 PM on June 30, 2001


the movie would have been greatly improved if it had ended 20 minutes earlier. the "epilogue" tainted the ideas with an emotional fluffiness which greatly reduced the possible impact. the movie is pretty, though.

the story on which it was based, Brian Aldiss's Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, is here.
posted by isildur at 10:32 PM on June 30, 2001


It's odd... I liked the movie, but I think part of the reason I liked it is that I found even the ending bit sort of weird and disturbing and not-really-at-all-comforting. It reminded me a bit of the end of Brazil.

The movie as a whole came closer to capturing the tone of a real fairy tale (simple, inscrutable, childlike, deeply disturbing and at the same time strangely calming) than anything I've seen in years.
posted by moss at 11:00 PM on June 30, 2001


Everyone that I went with agreed that the movie should've ended far earlier than it did.

*Caution: Might be a Spoiler if you're really picky*

My choice would've been an ending when Haley goes into the Manhattan building. The room should've been empty. Basically, the question the movie raises is "Can computers become sentient?" Since the writer clearly believes they can't (witness the conversation between Joe and David outside of Dr. Know's), this ending would've quickly summed up that answer.

I think that the Kubrick influences are clearly here, though: The ending is *really, really long*, and there are many sequences where it's just music and "think time", which frankly doesn't cut it in my book. When they were in Rouge City, I remember thinking "This is the coolest movie of the year". After seeing the "guest characters" at the end (again, trying not to spoil it too much), I was thinking "Erm...maybe not so much".

Teddy, of course, was the best character in the book.

Oh, another thought: Did anyone else notice that the robot kids came only in "white"?
posted by Kevs at 11:01 PM on June 30, 2001


Thanks machaus & dong_resin for linking to/stating the three laws.
posted by riffola at 11:03 PM on June 30, 2001


*spoiler alert*

Frankly, AI didn't seem to me to be phildickian at all, in terms of its mood and approach. Nor did it seem to me to be at all kubrickian (though it is supposed to be Spielberg melding his vision with Kubrick's).
I thought it was powerful filmmaking, but in the service of a vision, or an underlying idea, that is fundamentally flawed.
What makes the robot character sympathetic, and what is supposed to make him seem more 'human' than many of the human characters, is his love for his mother. But once he is programmed to love her, he really doesn't do anything else. There is no sign of growth or change to David (Haley Joel Osment's character), just a singleminded quest to get his mother back. It's all based on Pinocchio, but at least Pinocchio grows and changes and learns something in the course of his quest; David doesn't. He shows no ambivalence, no complexity, and no growth. It is even the point of his character that he can never grow or change, but will remain a child forever. That, it seems to me, is radically inconsistent with the idea that David is supposed to become humanized, even though he cannot literally become human. So ultimately Spielberg relies on sentimentality about Mom rather than anything more, well, messy in the way human beings actually are. This is why I don't see any similarity between Spielberg's meditations on robot vs human, and Philip K Dick's (or Ridley Scott's in Blade Runner for that matter).
Also--SPOILER ALERT--what's with the scene where David gets enraged and kills his lookalike robot, when he arrives in the building in Manhattan? I absolutely couldn't make sense of that at all.
posted by Rebis at 11:35 PM on June 30, 2001


There were a few moments where the movie should/could have ended.

*Spoilers*
I actually thought it was over when he was stuck looking at the fairy and the voiceover started. Seemed fitting.

The whole thing with him killing the other robot was oddball without explanation, as was the whole "protect me" thing that happened in the pool.

The damn "guest characters" piss me off. It was sort of like a hail mary thing written for a happy ending that had zero connection to the rest of the movie.

It was definitely pretty. When the hell do I get my time off to go visit Rouge City?
posted by owillis at 12:17 AM on July 1, 2001


*** MORE SPOILERS***
*** BUT REALLY, IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET- STOP READING THIS THREAD!!! ***

Who coined the phrase "guest characters"- either way, they were a laughable insertion, including their voices; too human and paternalized. If the point was that "this is what happens, humans die out while the AI becomes in effect the next step of 'human' evolution" it came off not as sci-fi prophetic but unintentionally comic. It turned what could have been a darker, deeper film into an early- Spielberg- style "happy ending" riff. Plus, I thought the whole David & Mom thing was a bizarre backwards step; usually, in mythic stories (as so elegantly outlined by Campbell) the protagonist grows from the infantile fixation on mother into a more socialized acceptance into the tribe, in some fashion (it even has the whole lost in the dark forest with new and unknown terrors motif; classic myth, the immersion into the subconscious preceding a return into the conscious world...). Yet instead, David became more infantilized; a better ending would have stopped with the fairy- where we all thought it would- or the reuniting with Professor Hobby, making some vague point about reuniting with the Creator/ Creative forces.

Oh, and don't get me started on some of the gaffes. Why did David cry at the end? Why was he the only one that was found- obviously, there was a whole slew of other Davids that presumably were adopted; not to mention that they never tracked down this David, presumably by tracing the copter thingie- what, they got AI perfected but no GPS or Lojack tracking?!? That stuff bugs me... :(
posted by hincandenza at 1:16 AM on July 1, 2001



Interesting observasion, Riffola, about the blink. I noticed early into the movie that the Mecha never blinked, and actually tried to keep myself from blinking during certain scenes with 'David' just to see how they did it, but I missed that scene where he did blink. Perhaps it was before I caught on?

When the movie ended, I thought I didn't like it. But now I've been thinking about it all day, and talking about it with folks, and I think I've changed my mind. At least I'm ready to see it again, and then maybe I'll have a better idea about it. I do have to say though, that Jude Law as Gigolo Joe was quite good.

*spoiler ahoy*

Oh, and here's a question: were those things at the end aliens or advanced robots? I thought they were robots who were decendants from the Mecha created by Humans. Many other folks I've talked to said they were aliens. Which was it?
posted by megnut at 1:26 AM on July 1, 2001


*More spoilers*



*Seriously, they're major and detailed*



*BEWARE!!!*

The whole thing with him killing the other robot was oddball without explanation

I thought this moment was about David refusing to be replaced again, as we was with Martin. Plus, it proved the father right, that he was as capable of 'hate' as he was of 'love.'

as was the whole "protect me" thing that happened in the pool

This was showing that David could feel an emotional response, instead of just a physical one. Remember the female mecha in the first scene could not do that ("What did you feel when I did that?" "You stabbed my hand.") But I think it mostly served as a plot point -- the final mistake (almost killing Martin) that got David booted.

The damn "guest characters" piss me off. It was sort of like a hail mary thing written for a happy ending that had zero connection to the rest of the movie.

I got the sense that the third act was seriously underdeveloped when Speilberg took the project over. Although it's not nearly as pat as Spielberg's typical endings, it still felt like he was trying too hard to wrap up loose ends and pull the heartstrings -- despite the jarring difference it creates from the previous two acts. More ambiguity would have helped here.
posted by Dirjy at 1:33 AM on July 1, 2001


I think Spielberg over-reached. This was a BAD movie that left you wondering why you wasted the time... My 2 cents
posted by revbrian at 1:35 AM on July 1, 2001


From the articles I've read, the third act of the movie, set 2000 years in the future, was something Kubrick intended, and not just a Spielbergian addition. I saw one comparison of that ending that isn't an ending, going into weirder and weirder terrain as being somewhat like the end of 2001, but the way Spielberg developed the story up till that point, there was really no point for that "weirdness" -- it didn't fit with the tone.

Personally, the movie was just a horrendous disappointment that I almost feel there's no point picking apart all the little details of what went wrong. There were just too many improbabilities, facile novice writing tricks, hackneyed conversations and plain inconsistencies for this to be considered anything but a pile of crap.

Here's an excellent review that mirrors a lot of what I thought at AICN by Moriarty.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 4:37 AM on July 1, 2001


I'm about to go see the movie (and consequently I skipped over several messages above). I think I'll like it, but I don't think I'll love it, based on reviews and comments I've seen. (Good thing I'm going to a matinee show for $3.)

All I gotta say at this point is that if I never hear or read the word "Kubrickian" again in my whole life, I'll be happy.
posted by RylandDotNet at 6:30 AM on July 1, 2001


How 'bout "Kubrickesque"?
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 6:56 AM on July 1, 2001


I just want to say, damn, I hated that ending with the robots that looked like aliens and stuff. It was incredibly pointless, and without it I would have been closer to getting home on time, and the other people I was with would be less likely to go "that movie was long and pointless..."

The Dr. Know scene was cool, especially when they came to the decision of combining the flat fact and fairy tale and got the poem ("The Stolen Child" by W.B. Yeats, btw.)
posted by dagnyscott at 7:31 AM on July 1, 2001


Haley Joel Osment said somewhere that he didn't blink at all in the movie, but I think he blinks (well it's not a full blink, but it's a blink nonetheless) when they show his reflection in one of Swinton's family photos, right after Henry brings him home.
posted by riffola at 8:05 AM on July 1, 2001


more spoilers, although if you are still reading it's probably too late ...

Saw it last night. I agree that David looking at fairy / voiceover was the logical end of the film. Everything after that was wretched. Although it does make sense for the entities in the the end to be robots rather aliens -- and when they first introduce David they show him in that super soft-focus which actually makes him look like the future robots. And here's a tip, Speilberg: if you're going to put futuristic robots in you film, don't make them look exactly like the aliens you put in each of your other films.

All in all I though the film was pretty good, but the rug-pulled-from-under-you-awfulness of the ending ruined everything for me. And you had to willfully ignore some huge inconsistencies, like a robot that can ingest food (and breaks because of doing so) but doesn't break when immersed in water for 2000 years. Surely someone approached Spielberg at some point and said "dude, this spinach scene doesn't make any sense", and you have to wonder at his dedication to Kubrick's studious dedication to "science fact" (a la 2001) allows scenes like that to appear anyhow.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 9:09 AM on July 1, 2001


SPOILAGE...

Still here? OK. David attacked the "David in the study" because he thought he was "unique and special." Unique like a snowflake, or like a person. That point was emphasized at a few places in the movie. To find that he was most emphatically not -- that there were not only others like him, but others *exactly* like him, down to the smallest detail, made him go a bit nuts.

I agree with the majority opnion; this movie could have stopped with the Blue Fairy, no problem whatsoever. I was two seconds away from getting up when the movie just...kept going! :) The actual ending was *interesting,* if a bit strange.
posted by metrocake at 9:46 AM on July 1, 2001


the movie would have been greatly improved if it had ended 20 minutes earlier

How about 120 minutes earlier? Horrible, pointless, painfully overlong mush.
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 10:02 AM on July 1, 2001


Asimov's laws of robotics are, by the way, only "universally true" to the extent that robots are manufactured with them hard-wired into their brains. A robot which was intended to be "human" would of course not have any such laws built-in, because they are a free-will restriction that humans don't have. When a writer employs Asimov's three laws, he is generally paying explicit homage to Asimov, although of course it is entirely optional to do so.

One writer who did so, in quite a disturbing fashion, was John Sladek. His Tik-Tok has defective asimov circuits, develops free will, and goes on a crime spree, setting out to do the most possible harm to his "masters." The horror of it, of course, is that everyone so believes in the infallibility of the Three Laws that it never occurs to anyone that the robot might be the culprit. In that sense the defective robot actually has more free will than the humans in the story, which, the novel being a satire, is part of the point.
posted by kindall at 10:24 AM on July 1, 2001


metrocake--your explanation for why David attacks the lookalike robot in the study makes sense to me. And yes, jirjy, this perhaps is meant to illustrate the point that if David can feel love, he can also feel hate. But still... in the way the film developed it was weirdly gratuitous--since everything else David has done puts him in a sympathetic light, and since, after he does this, we are presumably supposed to regard him in the same sympathetic light anyway. (The scientist reassures him that he is unique, because of the experiences he has gone through).
posted by Rebis at 11:30 AM on July 1, 2001


Yet more spoilers, but if you've read this far, you don't care.

Okay, when the boy falls in the ocean, a bunch of fish swim around him and take him from Manhattan to Coney Island. As I'm not familiar with New York, I don't know how far that is, but are those real fish? AI fish? I don't get it.
posted by Tacodog at 11:31 AM on July 1, 2001


Manohla Dargis' review in the LA Weekly says it best:
"Kubrick didn’t need happy endings, as his work could brutally prove. That’s one reason why he was so often criticized for being cold, a meaningless judgment that also misses what Kubrick himself understood full well — that human beings, even filmmakers, are complex and ambivalent. It’s something that Spielberg has never grasped, and probably never will."
posted by Rebis at 11:52 AM on July 1, 2001


One thing I find interesting is that despite the general consensus (both here and elsewhere) that "A.I." is a flawed movie, it's been generating lots of discussion. I know I've been musing it over ever since I saw it on Thursday (I very much enjoyed the immersive movie "universe", but as I believe someone said above, the script is painful).. It's not a great movie, but an interesting one.
posted by jess at 1:05 PM on July 1, 2001


Tacodog: I'm pretty sure that Coney Island is in South Brooklyn, though I could be wrong. If so, it'd be a few miles away from Manhattan.

I like the movie, but I really dislike how it leaves it's own question "What is consciousness" essentially unanswered. They keep hinting that they're going to give us something (Joe and David's conversation after Dr. Know's), but they don't.

Also, why did David act like he didn't know he wasn't real at the start? From the scene when he's getting repaired, we can tell that he knows he's a robot. But at the start (when talking to Martin and elsewhere), you'd think he had no idea.
posted by Kevs at 1:24 PM on July 1, 2001


Real fish playing around? A secret AI fish project? Fish sent from the future? Strangely, those dumb fish is all I can constantly think about. Holden Caufield would be proud.
posted by Tacodog at 2:12 PM on July 1, 2001


Another point I saw made in a review was the fact that the "Flesh Fair" and robots running from the Brendan Gleeson character in the "moon" didn't really make much sense given the fact that none of the robots were designed with emotional responses in mind except David. I mean, they had pain receptors, but even with the pain avoidance thing, would they have felt the emotion of fear, to drive them to run away from the "moon"?
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 2:40 PM on July 1, 2001


Why did David cry at the end? Why was he the only one that was found- obviously, there was a whole slew of other Davids that presumably were adopted; not to mention that they never tracked down this David


I don't think there were other David's in the field, it looked like the professor was really interested in the results of this little experiment. Notice how dangerous David was as a Mecha - his DAS was programmed to cower behind mother or whoever was nearest, broke stuff, was easily tricked, etc. Maybe they didn't want too many lawsuits. Or he was the only David to be abandoned.

I don't see a problem with him crying, just toss in programing that when he considers his drives and needs met in a strong way some fluid squirts out of his eyes. Makes him a little more human and demanding human empathy if he did it during high stress. Handy considering his DAS was pretty worthless. He was a machine not so much as to love but as to be totally dependant on mother.

I see this as the most important theme in the movie, Prof. Hobby knew love had to be a two way street so everything about David had to pull at the heartstrings of his family, he had to be stupid, cute, dependant, etc. I think Hobby's biggest surprise was when David proved that his model doesn't necessarily have to be so dependant as to be helpless.

This was the theme that creeped me out while watching this, the boy was completely artificial yet the proper psychological tricks were programmed into him making him a bit harder to discard as an electronic toy as compared to teddy. Its worse on the audience because he's our hero and in the end we really didn't want to see him melted down as the robot he really is. The cognitive dissonance that David produced in the audience and in the characters in the movie was the most successful part of the movie and shows you how well that kid can act.

Why they couldn't program him not to eat or just plug up the hole is beyond me. Even if he didn't eat I'm sure his guts would be full of dirt and insects after a while. Bad writers!
posted by skallas at 2:40 PM on July 1, 2001


SPOILERAMA.

As a hopeless Kuby fan, I spent the entire film (and some time after that) trying to sort out what might have been Kuby's contribution from that of Spielberg.

It seems at first glance that Spielberg tacked on the epilogue, as it's a piece of expository, sentimental trash. And, ending with the kid underwater, caught in what I suppose is meant to be a hopelessly human trap of his own making, seems cynical enough to be Kubrick's original intention. However, jumping 2,000 years is nothing compared to the time-cut in 2001. When the epilogue started, I thought the point of it was going to be that since there were no longer any "real" humans, the kid was now much "realer" than humans, who were simply distant memories. Of course, that was quickly brushed off. But I now think that Kubrick may well have wanted an epilogue, just that it would have taken a different direction.

I do think, though, that the double introduction at the beginning was Spielberg's fault. Since the narrator turns out to be one of the future-bot things, there is symmetry. That's the sort of thing Kuby had no need for.

It's interesting to note that the original story does not draw a distinction between old, non-loving robots and the new, loving David. Rather, it's between mechanical robots, and those with synthetic flesh. In the story, David acts just like a human kid, except the parents can blame any problems they have with him on mechanical failure, and can throw him out if they get sick of him. I have a bit of a problem with the idea that the ultimate achievement in synthetic consciousness would be the ability to love, as I know plenty of people who will tell you that their pets love them, and we don't tend to think of our dogs as beacons of conscious thought. Maybe I'm a bit of a pre-Romantic or something.
posted by D at 3:28 PM on July 1, 2001


It bothered me that there were no sympathetic humans. Humans were portrayed alternately as cruel, aloof, selfish and jealous. Was David's robot character meant to embody all that's good in us? If so, I found it hard to identify with him - I didn't sense the value of his desire to love / be more human when being an AI was shown to be morally superior.

He symbolically died twice by drowning - once in the pool, the other time by suicide into the ocean - and was reborn to a new existence shortly afterward each time. When the super advanced robots observe David living in his "holo-deck" house in the future, they watch him by looking into a table that, too, looks like water. Is this last life of David the end? Does he wake up the next morning even though his mother doesn't? He told the Ben Kingsley-voiced robot "You know what you have to do." ???

Someone here mentioned a reference to Campbell's book "Hero with a Thousand Faces." If David had followed the myth patterns he should have confronted his Maker/Father Figure, I think. There was that scene where Dr. Hobby lingers by photos of his dead son so we realize David is a replacement for him. A sharper, more focused scene where David rejects his identity as a product and maybe kills Dr. hobby instead of a dumb clone might have been better.

Did anyone here read Dune by Frank Herbert? I remember there are references to something in the past called the "Butlerian Jihad" where humans turn against machines that think. It's the reason why Dune has characters called Mentats - computers aren't allowed. The Flesh Fair seems to whole-heartedly ripped off the Butlerian Jihad.

Okay, I'll stop now. Thoughts welcomed.
posted by stevis at 3:37 PM on July 1, 2001


When they first asked if David had DAS (Damage Avoidance System), did anyone else think they asked "Does he have DOS"?
I just about spit out my cola. I thought this was the World Worst Product Placement.

Come to think of it, though, a Danger Avoidance System which is so buggy that he can break himself by eating spinach may very well be a Microsoft product ...
posted by Shadowkeeper at 5:01 PM on July 1, 2001


I loved the movie. Even though many of its themes, and the questions it poses are not original, A.I. does a more thorough job than most movies in articulating the question and presenting a philosophy.

Personally, I think the movie should have ended sooner, when David grabbed the blue fairy statue and it crumbled. That "only coming back to life for a day" thing was cheesy. The alien-looking robots in the end seemed to come straight out of Contact.

Also, I could have done with fewer camera shots of "glowing David", where there is a bright light behind his back, illuminating his edges.

Finally, I wish they showed us how they actually programmed a robot to love, rather than just seeing David proposed in a meeting, then seeing the completed project.
posted by ktheory at 9:32 PM on July 1, 2001


spoiler, etc.

ahahaha, shadowkeeper, i thought exactly the same thing. "DOS? what the hell would he need that for?"

like most everyone else i felt that the movie should have ended earlier... that sappy "one day" bit was too much. and the skinny alien/ai evolution dude had a british accent.

i was intrigued by someone's mention of the loving mecha's potential to dream... wouldn't it have been interesting if, as david slowly ran out of power, trapped under the ferris wheel, he began to dream? and then there was some sort of resolution scene involving his mother, done in such a way that you weren't sure whether it was really happening?
posted by zerolucid at 10:13 PM on July 2, 2001


I got your spoiler: AI will sweep the Razberries this year.

The worst fucking piece of shit I've ever seen. Worse than Titanic. Train wreck. Horrible, horrible, horrible. Evil. Contender with Battlefield Earth for most concerted effort to make shit. B movies can only aspire — I guess that’d be deign — to make such a fabulously terrible film. I’m being too kind: B-movies have some thought put into them. AI, clearly, did not.

Worthless crap which shouldn’t be given thoughtful consideration. Lock this in the Dreamworks vault and forget about it.

What a fucking waste.

metrocake: this movie could have stopped with the Blue Fairy, no problem whatsoever.

I disagree, this movie should never have been made. What a terrible thing to unleash on unaware populace. Now I know why the ad campaign had nothing to do with the movie. Osmont either screeched “Mother!” or blathered about the a Blue Fairy for two and half hours. That isn’t a movie. That’s not even a plot, it’s torture. The joke’s on me though, DreamWorks fucking tricked me into giving up ten bucks so I could be subjected their Ludivco treatment. Thanks Steve/Stan, I was cured all right.

Still not sure what I did to deserve it.

Good Christ, Spielberg. Stick to World War II — those movies are good. Or at least they used to be. The stench from this rotten bullshit is tainting all his other work. That Saving Private Ryan DVD recently contracted the scent of chum. We must do something to save Schindler’s List. I’ll sell my watch, that’s worth one movie isn’t it? We could do more.

How can a writer have an alien — with no mouth or face, and is so tall it doesn’t fit in the goddamned frame —speak “DNA” and “space time-continuum” (in the same sentence!) without the slightest hint of irony? How can Ben Kingsley say it without laughing?

What in the fuck did those aliens have to do with the fucking plot anyway? This movie’s timeline spanned 2000 years; it easily took that long to get from the title sequence til the aliens showed up. This movie aged me. It taught me how to hate.

It’s also further proof that Robin Williams has slid into permanent obscurity. Will we ever see his hairy flesh again, or will he always be cast as the wacky animated character? He used to be fun. Where have you gone Robin Williams?

Anger. Very angry. Wow. Terrible. Amazed at it how fucking terrible that was. Wow. Ponderous. Amazing crap.

The Chris Rock cameo was cool, but pointless, cloying, humorless and ended too quickly. If only the rest of AI could achieve that grace.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:07 PM on July 2, 2001


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