on 27 July 2011
Okay, let's get this out of the way, this is a grainy film, one of the grainiest I have bought in fact. Now let's get something else out of the way, it's supposed to look like this. Spielberg shot an at times washed out, dreamy and soft looking film, and it is shown here, warts an' all. It is not a bad transfer as some may think, a bad print wasn't used, nor could any "remastering" have been done to improve it. Applying DNR to "smooth" out the level of grain here would have probably created one of the worst Bluray releases so far. It would have removed every detail and texture and left us with a very bland picture. As it is the grain does dampen things a little, such is the speckly nature of it, but there is still far more detail shown here than on any previous release.
However, intentional or not, it is very grainy, this is more noticable at the start of the movie where it's mostly daytime scenes. It can be a bit distracting, but it also adds to the feel of the film. When things go a bit darker, in tone as well as in lighting, things do improve. The Flesh fair looks very good, the special effects hold up well, and that continues for the rest of the feature as they venture into the city and beyond. By the halfway mark the grain for me wasn't a problem, my eyes had adjusted, the grain had settled due to the darker scenes and more often than not, it looks very good. If I was to compare it to another bluray release, it would be Minority Report. If you were happy with the look of that film on Bluray then you should be fine here, if you thought it was too much then maybe pass on A.I.
We have a nice supply of extras on the disc. They cover many aspects of the movie from AI's creation, design, lighting, special effects, the robots, the actors, the soundtrack etc. Plenty to get your teeth into really.
Finally, if you can overlook/don't mind the level of grain here, then this is a good release and definitely a step up from the DVD. I saw A.I at the cinema and remember it well, it was never going to look silky smooth, and what we have here is a faithful representation of the Directors vision. It won't be for everyone but hopefully this review helps a few people in their decision.
on 8 March 2005
This has to be a contender for one of the most disturbing films of all time. This is because it addresses a central question of existence - what is love? Can it be created? Does it have to be earned? Is it it always unquestioning? The answers it comes up with are painful and incredibly sad. Ironically, I don't believe this film is about 'what happens if we make machines too human?' just as pinnochio wasn't about how we would feel if wood could talk. The main subject was that of belonging and identity. How far would one go to be approved of? Would you change yourself completely to be loved? (in the case of David from a robot to a boy - and it wasn't his fault he was a robot). What if the changes and sacrifices you made were not enough? Some have said that the ending to this film was too fairy tale like. I disagree; it also was profoundly sad. It highlighted that despite the lengths to which we might go for love/approval, it is all still impermenant. Tragedy in the extreme, but thought provoking and moving.
This is a review of the two disc dvd edition of the movie. As ever the amazon system will link all the reviews of various formats together into one, so apologies if you read this on the blu ray page.
A.I. is a science fiction movie which had a few big names involved in it's genesis. Based on a short story called 'Super toys last all summer long' by the writer Brian Aldiss. Which was a long gestating project for director Stanley Kubrick. Which director Stephen Spielberg brought to the screen in the end. As with most films of short stories, it takes the basic idea and plot of the original and does lots of it's own things to get it to movie length. But does still keep the theme and idea intact.
In the near future, the world is a bit different following ecological disaster. Robots and androids are now prevalent. David [Hayley Joel Osment] is an android child. And a rather special one. First of a new kind. Who can be programmed to love. unconditionally. Taken in by a family whose son is no longer with them, David loves his new mother very much. But when her biological son returns, there's only room for one child in the household.
Abandoned, David sets out on a quest to become real. Thinking that if he is, then his mother will love him again. A remarkable odyssey awaits...
A.I. is a film that tries to do many things. And succeeds very well at all. Near future science fiction should create a world that is still recognisable as one not desperately far removed from our own, but still different at the same time. This certainly does that. It also considers some of the big questions of stories about robotics. Such as what is real life and is the mechanically created kind any different really? It gets all this in in a manner that doesn't lecture, and leaves you food for thought. Doing this by making the main artificial characters very strong, well acted and likeable.
Hayley Joel Osment does a great job in the lead at making David likeable, and also convincingly not quite human at the same time. He gets great support from Jude Law as android Gigolo Joe. And Teddy, a CGI created teddy bear with a wonderful voice, some great acting from the voice actor for the part making him old and worldy wise.
David's quest takes in some fantastical locations, and memorable set pieces. But it never loses focuses. Never slipping away from him and always keeping the focus firmly on him and his desire. Which, even though we know it can't happen, is never not touching anyhow.
This leads to an ending that you won't forget for quite a while. If at all.
This is a twelve certificate film because some of it may be too disturbing for the younger viewers, such as the emotional moments and some rather strong imagery of robotic destruction. But it's a film that does it's director proud. A very memorable bit of science fiction movie making, and a film well worth a watch.
The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:
Languages: English, French, Italian.
Subtitles: English, French, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, Portugese, German, Romanian, Bulgarian.
The two disc edition, coming from an age when dvd buyers got lots of extras, contains quite a few features about the film:
Acting AI; A portrait of David. A portrait of Gigolo Joe. Nine and six mins respectively in length, both about the two lead roles and stars.
Designing AI: From drawings to set [seven mins] and dressing AI [five mins].
Lighting AI: Four minutes all about the lighting.
Special effects. Seven minutes about those.
Robots of AI; thirteen minutes on the acting production and visuals for these.
A five minute overview of this.
The robots: three mins on these.
The miniatures: Four mins on these.
Sea scene: two mins on this.
Animating: eight more mins about it.
Sound and music of AI: Six mins on the sound design and five on the score.
Closing: Steven Spielberg on our responsibility to artificial intelligence. Two mins, over which the production credits for the extras play, of Steven Spielberg making some good points about our relationship with technology.
Then there's the AI archives:
Two of the film's trailers.
Seven sets of drawings from one designers portfolio.
Nine more from the production design portfolio.
Six more sets of other production designs.
Two sets of behind the scenes photos and the production.
All the above are viewed by using the main keys on the dvd remote to move left or right through the pictures.
There's also the filmography of the eight main cast members.
And the filmography of many involved with the production.
So if you like extras, or remember two disc dvds as they used to be, it's the edition to get.
on 11 July 2015
This is a really underrated film that explores a currently emerging problem as human and machine intelligences collide - I think an inescapable part of our future and probably the most significant stage in our evolution. I like the poetic, fairytale quality the story has, drawing parallels with Pinocchio. Even the twin towers arising from the ice, now gone of course, lend an eerie otherworldness to this enchanting tale. I love stories such as this that explore what it is to be human.
on 10 October 2007
Stanley Kubrick was right to identify his long-gestating A.I. project as being more aligned to Steven Spielberg's sensibilities. But it's a double-edged sword: the result is a muddled concoction of the latter director's tautest emotional drama, his most sumptuous visual excesses, and his most turgid sentimental stargazing. In that order.
The film is inspired by the short story Super-Toys Last All Summer Long by Brian Aldiss. The first reel of the film - an eerie family drama with an undercurrent of creeping techno-horror - bears most resemblance to the original text. In spite of key questions going unanswered - literally, what will a robot child become? - it's also the most successful section of the film, with effective performances from Frances O'Connor (as Monica Swinton) and Sam Robards (as Henry Swinton) and a chilling one from Haley Joel Osment as their adopted robot son, David. When Monica and Henry's real son wakes from his coma, Monica cannot face the idea of David being destroyed, and so she dumps him in the woods with his companion Teddy (probably the cutest CG creation ever).
And so A.I. broadens its horizons and loses its focus. David and Teddy find themselves at a 'Flesh Fair', where human hicks go to trash their robot counterparts. Here they meet love machine Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) - he's fun, although it's somewhat tan of Spielberg to present him so sexlessly. The fair itself is the one of those slightly cringeworthy depictions of futuristic hedonism where people listen to obnoxious electroclash music and dress in luminous armour. The ensuing adventure takes the robo trio to the sumptuous Rouge City and beyond, to the soggy New York City of the future.
From the above it may sound like I loathe the film, but that's not the case. It's themes are expansive and are presented via a fiercely intelligent script. Spielberg not only nails concepts arguably too large to be nailed down - love, loneliness, and mortality - but he also wraps them up in a satisfying five-part narrative structure. The fifth part is as bold as can be - Kubrick would have approved of the 2,000 year leap into the next age, just as he would have appreciated Ben Kingsley's determinably old fashioned opening and closing narration. (There are further cameos from Robin Williams, Meryl Streep, and Chris Rock - keep an ear out.)
Like Professor Hobby's (William Hurt) lifelong ambition to manufacture a child capable of love, perhaps the film's ambitions are out of its reach. It will always be the runt in Spielbergs litter. For while films such as War of the Worlds and Hook were of depressingly low quality, both achieved a level of global popularity on which Spielberg has always thrived but which would apply to A.I. How could it? It's too baffling, beautiful, and ambiguous. It's art.
I loved this movie. It may be not as magnificent as other Spielberg and Kubrick works, but it is still a great moment of cinema. I watched it with a great emotion and I was afraid for the little hero (or rather two little heroes - let's not forget Teddy...) from the beginning to the end. It made me cry twice, no matter how much I tried not to. It really reached deep into my heart as no other movie managed to do in years... So, there is no other possibility - five stars.
I agree however that AI is clearly a patchwork of ideas rather than one project. It is because this story was worked in all successively by four very talented but very different men. It began as a short story ("Supertoys last all summer") by Brian Aldiss, a great name of British SF, known mostly for his magnificent "Hothouse" novel. As most of SF writers from 60s and 70s Aldiss was very pesimistic and his writings are usually rather sad and gloomy. His mark is clearly visible in the movie.
The short story was rewritten in a scenario by another great name of SF, Ian Watson, who of course left his own personal inprint. The person who had the idea of making a movie about a modern SF version of "Pinocchio" was the great Stanley Kubrick. He never realised it however and when he died, according to his last will, the project went to Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg inherited a very sad, depressing and dark tale of suffering and despair and he simply couldn't realise it like it was. He changed the story, mainly removing the "horrible bad ending" and replaced it with a kinder "not so happy end" which so many reviewers didn't like. Well, me for one I think he was right because ending AI differently would give a movie that only a really bad person (and by saying this I really mean "a sadistic sociopath") could like...
You probably already know what this story is about - a robot child, who was programmed to love his foster parents and who wants just to be their child, nothing else... but even that little will prove to be too much to ask... No other spoilers. Haley Joel Osment gives here a performance as brilliant as the one he gave in "Sixth sense". Jude Law and William Hurt are good in second roles. A great "star" of this movie is Teddy, a little teddy-bear robot, once a very expensive and cool toy, now obsolescent and falling in pieces... The scenes in which he is fixing himself with a needle and some yarn will probably touch the coldest hearts.
This is NOT a movie for children! I strongly warn you against watching it with them, unless they are at least 12. Some of the scenes are very disturbing (like the execution of "strays", robots which were abandoned or chased away by the owners) and even after the little Spielberg touch, this movie is still terribly sad.
All in all, I believe you should watch this movie, at least once - you will not regret it. And you can also use "A.I." as a medical test - if the final scene doesn't have any effect on you, you should see a doctor...
on 29 November 2014
The "12" viewing certificate does not mean that there is material not suitable for younger audience, but clearly has to do with the more adult-oriented overall theme of the film, and their understanding / appreciation of it. The story of a young boy-robot programmed with emotion, as naive and simple as it may seem, proves a most complex and demanding affair. Yet, it makes for a riveting tale of how the feeling of love is overpowering his robotic programming. Not coincidentally, just like Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "The little prince", "A.I." is also a universal piece of art, with the youngest, yet, most wise protagonist. "The little prince" taught us that the essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart. "A.I.", respectively, tells us that children give us the truthful wisdom we seek. This impressive bluray presentation is most satisfying with the often massive audio and visual improvements (the much talked-about grain issue is finally put to rest), contributing to the movie's conceptual and executional excellence. Only let-down is the absence of any new extras, as those featured on here are the exact DVD bonus material with nothing new added. Still, a must-have item. Incredibly inspired, immaculately executed, spectacularly entertaining, utterly sublime, "A.I." is Steven Spielberg's (and Stanley Kubrick's) hidden masterpiece, a breathtaking contemporary fairytale.
A.I. is a futuristic fairy-tale, an enchanting story of a boy mechanoid ("mecha") called David who embarks on a journey because he wants to be loved by the woman he calls his mother. With parallels to the story of Pinocchio, Spielberg takes us on a spellbinding exploration of love, hate, friendship, prejudice and ultimately what it is to be human, and what it is to be without humanity.
Told in three vastly different acts, the story takes us from somewhat familiar home settings, through the grittiness of the Flesh Fair; the glamour, glitz and sleaze of Rouge City; to a final half hour in the most imaginative and dreamlike vision of the distant future.
This film communicates on many levels, and is held together by a gloriously unique concept, a cast of interesting and well-portrayed characters (including excellent cameos by Robin Williams, Ben Kingsley and Meryl Streep), a simple and beautiful musical score by John Williams that - for a change, had me guessing for a while and didn't sound like Williams at all - and excellent visual direction by Spielberg.
While it must be said that I found the first 50 minutes unnecessarily slow-paced, and not entirely successful in conveying the emotions and motives of David's parents, the last two acts more than make up for this imbalance. The character of Teddy, a semi-intelligent robotic soft toy who is essentially playing the part of David's conscience, also has a vital role of stitching together the broken scenes, smoothing out the storyline, and adding moments of much needed comedy.
Every time I watch A.I., I come away with a new message, another meaning in the story I hadn't spotted before, and it never fails to fill my eyes with tears at the end. The finale is pure magic, and can only be appreciated in context with the first two acts.
It is a tragedy that Kubrick, the great film visionary revered by Spielberg and who had wanted to make this movie for over 10 years, died before it could be made - although Spielberg incorporated many of his concepts and worked closely with his production company. For once, Spielberg avoided being over-sentimental, having struck a fine balance between emotion and reason, and I think has succeeded in bringing to life a story that is as accessible and relevant for adults as it is for children. I believe he would have made Kubrick proud, and it is a fitting dedication to his memory.
on 17 October 2011
Surely this must be one of the most beautiful films ever made. The robot boy simply wants his adopted mother to love him. The ending is so sad, a real tearjerker. And this from someone whose other favourites are usually bloodthirsty or action films.
Technically I didn't find any of the defects mentioned in other reviews, but I only have a 37inch 720 Plasma, although at the beginning I was not aware that I was watching a Blu-Ray disk. However later on in the film, in the night sequences, the Blu-Ray showed much of the detail, previously hidden.
In my top ten films, looked good to me on Blu-Ray, glad I bought it, while still available.