Thursday, 4 November 2010

A.I: A Fascinating Mess.

It's fair to say, that if you wanted one director to make a film Stanley Kubrick wanted to make, then Steven Spielberg wouldn't be an ideal choice. Sure, Spielberg is probably second only to Kubrick himself when it comes to his track record but their styles were completely different. Some say Kubrick's films are cold and even heartless, I would say they are detached. Spielberg's biggest fault is his sentimentality that despite his best efforts, he has never completely been able to reign in. As such, the directed-by-Spielberg, imagined-by-Kubrick A.I. Artificial Intelligence was always going to be a clash of two schools of thought.

The result is a mess. But it is a fascinating mess. I hate to sound harsh but the faults most people find with this film do seem to stem from Spielberg's own flaws. The completely needless tacked on ending, the overly cute teddy bear sidekick - things you wouldn't see in a Kubrick film. But it's not as if Spielberg made a hash of things; his flair for visuals and emotion shine through, arguably showing a side that Kubrick could not.

At the centre of the film is Haley Joel Osment's David, a truly underrated performance that, whilst bordering on annoying hits the uncanny valley of portraying an imitation of the real thing. The best way to think of it is like the creepy motion capture characters in Robert Zemeckis films; impressively real, but not quite human. Osment nails this.

Other characters are not so great. Jude Law's Gigolo Joe is apparently far removed from what Kubrick conceived. I am not surprised. His light hearted, cartoonish nature just doesn't seem to fit into Kubrick's conception of this world. Robin Williams cameo as the holographic Dr. Know is more distracting then it is engaging.

So how did a film with great visuals, an interesting concept and input from two of the greatest directors of all time turn out to be such a mess? Well, simply that; it was born of two directors. This film could have been Kubrick's last hurrah, an epic story of what it means to be 'human.' It could also have been an upbeat Spielberg fairytale, minus the darkness and menace that Kubrick would have wanted. Simply put, this film could have worked if it had been the baby of either of these two great men alone, but with Spielberg trying to carry on Kubrick's legacy it does not. It will still always be a fascinating lesson in what happens when two very different directing style clash.

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1 comment:

  1. Yo, dumbass. Both the ending and the teddy bear were Stanley Kubrick's ideas.


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