You need to watch Spielberg's misunderstood sci-fi masterpiece on Amazon Prime ASAP

You need to watch Spielberg’s misunderstood sci-fi masterpiece on Amazon Prime ASAP

Pinocchio is hot right now.

Or at least tweak and tweak the Italian fairy tale for modern audiences. Pinocchio received a live-action treatment with Tom Hanks and Cynthia Erivo on Disney+ in early September, and Pinocchio will return to life, reimagined as a stop-motion animated musical fantasy drama by Guillermo del Toro, for Netflix.

But long before Pinocchio remakes were cool, Steven Spielberg delved into uncharted stylistic territory on a leap of faith granted by Stanley Kubrick with AI Artificial Intelligencea futuristic version of Pinocchio it was both disturbing and loving.

Film legend has it that Kubrick began adapting sci-fi author Brian Aldiss’ short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” in the late 1970s, but the film languished in purgatory. Kubrick didn’t believe special effects technology was advanced enough to fulfill his dreams for the dystopian Pinocchio story come true, at least until Steven Spielberg jurassic park made its debut. Finally, AI Artificial Intelligence was finally jumping from the page to the big screen.

But legend also has it that not even iconic couple attraction Spielberg and Kubrick, or Haley’s childish superstar Joel Osment fresh out of M. Night Shyamalan The sixth senseor even Jude Law’s enduring sex symbol status, could keep the film from being woefully underrated and misinterpreted by critics and audiences alike.

On its surface, AI Artificial Intelligence don’t back down from inspiration. A boy sculpted from a tree by a lone craftsman is traded for a brighter model: David (Osment), a prototype boy-robot given to couple Monica and Henry Swinton (Frances O’Connor, Sam Robards), who mourn their son comatose, Martin, in the midst of a rapidly declining human population in a world ravaged by climate change. David is designed not only to impress on his human parents, but programmed to love Monica and Henry fiercely above all others, effectively overriding their emotional need for Martin.

But the artificial love embedded in the code is a shadow of genuinely lived, given or received love. David finds out when Martin (Jake Thomas) miraculously wakes up from his coma, and David is thrown to the side of the road like a worn-out toy.

David tearfully begs his “mother”, Monica, to let him join the Swinton family. Warner Bros. Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures

Cursed with an undying desire to secure Monica and Henry’s love, David becomes obsessed with becoming a “real boy” so he can be as wanted as Martin. His journey takes him to anti-robo “flesh fairs” run by a cruel carny (Brendan Gleeson), to robo-sex work quarters occupied by the likes of dishonest charm, Gigolo Joe (Jude Law), and to anthropomorphized Google search bars voiced by Robin Williams. , all in the hope of finding the blue fairy of Pinocchio which will convert it from mechanical to organic. The question of whether David receives his happiness forever at the end of AI has divided critics and audiences for two decades.

If an angry tale of Pinocchio isn’t a draw, or if the eco-horror genre doesn’t appeal to you, then maybe watching a movie that’s utterly unique due to its production is enough to get you running to Amazon Prime Video. AI managed to blend the seemingly disparate storytelling sensibilities of Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick into a cohesive piece that was neither too stereotypically moody for a Kubrick film, nor too stereotypically cutesy for a Spielberg film.

Gigolo Joe: part-time robo-beau, full-time robo-nanny. Warner Bros. Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures

Spielberg repeated several times that as soon as Kubrick mentioned his AI adaptation to him in 1985 and persuaded him to take the reins, he knew it was essential to do justice to Kubrick’s ultimate passion project.

“I felt it was a breakthrough in our relationship,” Spielberg told the Los Angeles Times in an interview before AI Released theatrically in 2001. “The story wasn’t as important to me as the fact that for the first time since we met in 1979, he was telling me a story he envisioned for himself as a filmmaker. ”

When Kubrick died, Spielberg went against his own directorial impulses to create a film that honored Kubrick’s original vision. Spielberg may have been the one behind the camera, handling the casting and overseeing the final edits, but all the storyboards he referenced in AI the creation had been supervised by Kubrick in the early 90s.

Spielberg and Kubrick combine to create a strange and unsettling future.Warner Bros. Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures

AI Artificial Intelligence was nominated for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Score at the 74th Academy Awards and received numerous critical accolades. Roger Ebert gave the film three stars, calling it “wonderful and maddening”. A decade later, Ebert revisited his initial assessment, tacking on the last star. AI ultimately ended up on Ebert’s list of “great movies”.

The American public, on the other hand, had mixed opinions, giving AI a C+ rating when surveyed by CinemaScore. Audiences may have expected something more overtly “adult themes with a child’s point of view”, like Spielberg’s Empire of the Sunand less superficially focused on “childlike naivety and wonder” than Spielberg’s To hang up Where AND the extra-terrestrial.

Screenwriter Ian Watson speculated in an interview with Moon Milk Review in 2010 while AI was quite successful worldwide, the film was “too poetic and intellectual in general for American tastes”. Ouch. He also said that American critics mostly misunderstood the film because they thought the last 20 minutes “were a sentimental Spielberg add-on, when those scenes were exactly what I wrote for Stanley and exactly whatever he wanted, filmed faithfully by Spielberg”.

In the AI audiences, you see it either as one of Spielberg’s (and, posthumously, Kubrick’s) best films, or as an unfortunate cinematic collaboration. Watch it yourself and find out where you stand in this ongoing dispute.

AI Artificial Intelligence is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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