Artificial Intelligence : AI

Artificial Intelligence : AI (Steven Spielberg, 2001)

A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother.

Written by Stanley Kubrick and directed by Steven Spielberg, AI has divided diehard fans of Kubrick and Spielberg aficionados in two distinct camps. Many did not liked the reinterpretation of the Kubrick vision by Spielberg. Being a diehard fan of everything Kubrick, AI isn’t such a disaster as many stated.

Set in the future of our society, mankind has been replacing and fulfilling its needs with artificial humanoids. In a family where the son is ill they decide to substitute their son with David, an artificial boy capable of feelings and especially an endless love towards his mother. However, when the ill son comes back when a cure is found the life of David takes a unexpected turn of events.

Following the dark vision of Kubrick on the humanity’s future and the vile that society has been going towards, the path of David (Haley Joel Osment) takes us into a world of futuristic excesses and vices. Many elements of the plot remains from its creator. But the way it is told and done is Spielbergian by far. Both filmmakers were/are adepts of the use of special effects. However, the way it is shot and done in AI clearly is too aesthetic and plastic. Kubrick always wanted his special effects to be more than just beautiful. They had texture, depth, and had some kind of dirt or grit about them to get them to feel more real than CGI computerized visuals. Just look at 2001: A Space Odyssey’s special effects were top of the art visuals and the vision and visuals make them still hold the test of time. They bring something to the movie and become a part of the charm. In AI, it is tacky and too eye popping for the future that Kubrick envisioned.

As for the plot points, I haven’t read Kubrick’s script. But it is clear that it is a Science fiction adaptation of the tale of Pinocchio the little puppet boy who wanted to be a real little boy. The rendition of the source material is pretty good and there is a real effort in the journey of David that makes it very true to the original without being too obviously stuck to the events.

Overall, with the Kubrick issue aside AI could easily be a very strong effort from Spielberg and his team. Even myself should stop saying : “imagine if Kubrick directed it himself” “Or Kubrick died too young he had so many films to do” etc. But I cannot put the SK factor aside for long and remember that Spielberg did it and may have let the hopes and expectations in the air instead of stubbornly adapting it to the screen. I still suggest that you should see it for yourself and get your own opinion because it is still a very good film directed by Steven Spielberg.


  1. Very well written, mate! AI undoubtedly serves to be a unique experience. Being an ardent Kubrick follower I understand that his direction would have done wonders to the movie. But, I believe that Spielberg did a decent job with his limited understanding of Kubrick's vision. Technically the movie is brilliant but it somewhat lacks on emotional front. As Roger Ebert rightly puts it: "The movie has perfected the artificial but not the intelligent."

    1. I did not knew this quote from Ebert but I think it sums up the film very well. Thank you Murtaza Ali.

  2. Nice review! I think you did a good job of delineating the difference between Kubrick and Spielberg's visions. It's difficult to watch AI and not wonder what might have been, if Kubrick had actually directed it.

    I've always been one the fence about this film, myself. I think about two thirds of it works, but the final third is a mess.

    1. Thank you Barry! I think you're right about the messy ending... But that's a clear problem that many filmmakers have a hard time to finish their Sci-Fi films. It could be a nice discussion about Sci-Fi, how to end a film without messing the first two thirds or so!

  3. Kubrick made some very good movies, but he made some bad ones, too, so I never worried about the whole Spielberg vs. Kubrick aspect of the film.

    I liked this movie up to a point. I feel that it would be a much better film if it had ended at the underwater scene. The entire last section of the film felt tacked on, almost like it didn't belong with the rest of the movie.

    1. Kubrick never did a bad movie but Spielberg made some bad ones.

      The ending is widely disliked as you mentioned Chip!

      Thanks for your comment!


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