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AI: Artificial Intelligence

dir: Steven Spielberg's Mexican non-union equivalent
[img_assist|nid=1098|title=You can't play spot the robot, because all three aren't human|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=312]
Oh beautiful people, what with the planes falling out of the skies and the burning of empires, and thousands of souls going to meet their makers, is it even appropriate to talk about something as unimportant as a film? A movie, in fact? Yes it is...

Let me create a hypothetical situation for you: You work as a job placement demon, as they all are at those particular agencies. You have two positions to fill. Job 1 requires a qualified person to take the reins at a child care centre. Job 2 requires a highly qualified and experienced person to take control of a whorehouse. Yes, a whorehouse. There's no other adequate PC term that can be used in its place. Brothel always sounds kinda dirty to me. Which is appropriate, me guesses.

You have only two people on your books in terms of wanting jobs. They are both hungry, hungry for the acclaim that comes only from working in a prestigious position. Unfortunately for your Key Performance Indicators, those two people are Steven Spielberg and a very dead and overrated / underappreciated Stanley Kubrick. Let's say that you're in the added unfortunate position whereby they get to decide which jobs they get to go for. Hilarity ensues.

Spielbergo should not be put in control of a whorehouse. But he still wants to,desperately wants to, and you can't say "no" or "know", because it's his decision. Kubrick can't really say anything because he's dead, really. He knows that his alleged protege is not up to the task of being the big pimp/madame on the block, but he can't stop him, seeing as he is currently pushing up daisies, maggots, and other flora/fauna. It's a hard decision, needless to say.

Put simply, Kubrick hated humanity. It's evident in all his films. Dispute me if you will, and you have every right to, but my take on this genius was that he may have individually loved particular people, but overall he saw us as a morass of weak, histrionic flesh that always made stupid decisions that never ennobled us or made us that special in this cold universe.

There is a persistent distance, isolation, dissatisfaction that lingered with his "vision", that alternately made him loved and hated. Compare him with a sap like Spielberg, and you can already see why a high concept film like this would fail in the wrong hands. It persists in being mildly interesting, but never moreso.

But the kindergarten teacher perseveres, and serves us up a steaming pile of pseudosocial commentary and future conceptualisation that misses the mark more often that it hits, which is a desperate shame, truly. The money that must have been spent on this thing, it's simply outrageous. And you can see the money on the screen at many points, but you'll be fucked and fucked painfully if you can hear it in the script or see it in realisation.

Ah, the tales of artificial (ie. constructed "life" forms) people idolising, idealising and aspiring to humanity, it sounds like stirring stuff, doesn't it? Well, if it does, perhaps you're familiar with it because of a bunch of sci fi novels (written by the masters of the bearded, pipe smoking genre such as Asimov, Clarke, Aldiss, PK Dick, Mary Shelley et al) or because of a little known tv show called Star Trek: The Next Blah fucking Blah Ungrateful Generation. In essence, what I'm getting at is that as whizbang as the concept of synthetic "artificially" intelligent life forms is, it has been explored, in many ways and with many permutations. That doesn't invalidate any future attempts at trying to realise it, of course. But for fuck's sake, they could try to make it at least moderately interesting or engaging, eh?

The central problem, or flaw, is that you never really get a sense that our protagonist David (more than adequately portrayed by Haley Joel Osment, wunderkind of Sixth Sense fame) is anything more than a confused robot, with no real sense of self awareness or any ability to really understand what the difference is betwixt simulated sentience and genuine self awareness / aspirations to "selfhood" truly are. And where does the fault lie? Squarely in the arrogant lap of Segnor Spielbergo, who had the audacity to try and run with a project started by a person that actually understood something about humanity, especially the darker aspects thereof, which he should have known he was not equipped to realise. Try telling that to a fucker whose house is bigger than that of Bill "Bring me the blood of many virgins" Gates.

The simple plot, broken down in a form made even simpler than what they themselves achieve: it is the Future! The ice caps have melted! Resources are scarce! People can't fuck and breed indiscriminately anymore, oh no! Cue the March of the Angry Robots, except they ain't angry, or really that interesting. A "Professor", played by perennial fuck stick in the mud William Hurt, decides that there is a gap that must be bridged: he posits,in possibly the films only genuinely intelligent section (the first five minutes), that it would be grand if his company (robot or "mecha" producers) should be able to produce
creations that simulate the experience of imprinting. This new model of mecha is conceived of as being buyable by the sections of humanity that have had children previously who have died, and through breeding laws are unable to have more. Cue the creation of a robot that can say "I love you Mommy" and can fixate on a person in a somewhat worrying pathological fashion. But it's not pathological, is it, because it's just programming. See the problem.

So there's a family whose one child is in some form of cryogenic suspension due to some horrible disease, like wanting to collect all the Pokemon cards. Our little modified synthetic David is delivered to them. Frances O’Conner, a decent Australian actor, plays the reverse-surrogate Mommy, a mother who can't deal with the fact that her child is "dead", who becomes after a while amenable to the idea of having a synthetic child adore her the way that all children are supposed to.

"Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children." Apparently. At least, that's what watching The Crow drunk out of my skull too many times taught me. Our little pseudo boy David acts like a mini stalker around her at all
times, even walking in on her when she's in the toilet. How racy! Watersports and all! No, don't get excited, those of you out there sicker than I realised.

Leaving out little of importance, in a moment of weakness after a time of reluctance, Monica decides to initiate the programming which will cause David to "imprint" upon her and her alone. Soon after that happens, she is forced to ditch her little metal guy in a forest to protect her recently reanimated son.

No real further explanation is warranted, or even really desired, I'm sure. Basically, the animus thenceforth is that David wants to get back to Mommy. He believes, after hearing about the story of Pinocchio, that if he becomes a "real" boy, then Mommy will love him. And adventures ensue.

The fundamental problem with all of this is that even though the less cynical of us can accept the genuineness of his mission, consistently we are reminded of the fact that he's not even close to approximating a sentient, self aware being: he's just a fucked up machine that thinks a woman will love him if he finds the magical Blue Fairy who can make him real. In a way it's sad to watch his desperation and single minded determination, but it reaches such mindless, mawkish, Spielbergian extremes that you're hard pressed caring, even when you want to. There's no ambiguity, no confusion or purpose at all. He's not a confused self-aware creation, he's just a video programmed to tape an episode of "The Secret Life of Us" that he's never going to achieve. Much like the rest of Australia in terms of that previously mentioned program.

On his travels he comes across another mecha called Gigolo Joe, played by Gigolo Jude Law. Jude Law is a fucker, and an actor I have sometimes very much liked in certain performances. He's the sort of guy you resent because he comes across as the sort of guy that would fuck your girlfriend, and then probably fuck you too if you're male without even having the decency to give you a reach-around. He can be perfect in certain roles, and he is more than adequate in this context. He plays a pleasure robot, whose one purpose is to pleasure the ladies out there that are hankering for some real loving. Despite his apparent desire to protect / help David, he comes across as a hardwired mecha who again doesn't realise what the fuck's going on. Which is inexcusable. He's decent enough though.

Set pieces are called for here. Cue a "set piece" engineered to teach us the error of our ways. A carnival organised by a mercenary human played by Brendan Gleason is meant to be a celebration of humanity. Thus, the express purpose thereof is the mutilation and destruction of mechas designed to, in his opinion, take the place and invalidate the existence of humans. It's the Flesh Fair, people, and it has nothing to do with the usual parade of flesh I usually see and brush up against at the various goth clubs around this illustrious city.

Speaking of which, though admittedly it is a tenuous connection, Ministry apparentlymake an appearance playing their turgid generic industrial rock. Woo fucking hoo.

But hark! Do I hear the cries of a child robot about to be liquefied under a few liters of sulfuric acid? Cue the indignant screams of the sort of trash humans that would ejaculate at the sight of a cockfight. Then again, who wouldn't. They were more than happy, and actually paid to see mechas dismembered and destroyed for their delectation, but since they have a totally out of context Spielbergian epiphany, our heroic little toasted cheese sandwich maker connected to a fax machine is spared by the hacky sack wielding crowd. These aren't spoilers, they're more sad admissions on my part. These are the scenes that should have been directed by a whoremaster rather than a crèche supervisor, see and read my lament.

Onward, even more applicably to the nub of my discontent, our heroic mechas travel on to Rouge City, an apparent ho' central part of the new landscape, which is realised in such a sterile way that you have to wonder whether Spielberg himself can actually, like a fern or a sea anemone, reproduce asexually. I'm sure that's all his ego could endure anyway, considering this film. Imagine making a film with a scene in a red light district of the future whereby you make it as sleazy or erotic as the contemporary Disneyland. Sure, I know that many of you fantasise about getting it on with someone wearing a Goofy or Sneazy full body suit, but that certainly isn't the path to glory. Sure the cumshots are difficult to clean up, but still.

The ending, which takes about 15 hours, is that which will cause audiences the greatest difficulty. The dopey audience I watched it with, apart from continuously clacking its fucking chewing gum, collectively let out a more than audible exhalation of "What the fuck?" I don't mind difficult endings at all, I just wish they made some fucking sense, eh? And before the less charitable of you chime in, I certainly understood it, I just didn't like it, and it smacked of cheap resolution the way your sugar daddies smell of Old Spice and cheap Horizon cigarettes.

Is it worth watching? Well, there are some interesting visuals. But interesting visuals alone do not an interesting film make. This film has got plenty of ideas, enough for four films. Just pray that Steven Spielberg isn't in charge of any of them.

I have to admit that my viewing experience may have been slightly adulterated by the presence of some fuckwits in the crowd that kept clacking their chewing gum in a highly irritating fashion. And when my resolve broke and I screamed out "Could you shut the fuck up please?", my call certainly went unheeded, and it didn't help that I couldn't see where the fucker was sitting. More fool me. But more fool me for thinking this film would push all my buttons. And yours. I still have to give it some points for potential ideas. But like all of your teachers kept saying until they eventually gave up in despair, "Has potential, can't focus, smells a bit, is too smart for their own good, pretends to put out without carrying through." Or something like that.

5 fuckbots out of 10. Please make me real, Blue Fairy!