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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
AI almost interests
Artificial Intelligence
Haley Joel Osment goes on a mother-finding mission with Jude Law
By BBC News Online's Keily Oakes

The long-awaited AI finally hits UK shores with an, at times, grim foretelling of the future in the form of a fairy tale for adults.

Auteur Stanley Kubrick bought the rights to Brian Alidiss's short story Super-Toys Last All Summer Long more than 30 years ago with the concept of transforming it for the screen.

He always had Steven Spielberg in mind as the director and on Kubrick's death Spielberg set about writing the script and directing the movie.

And the marks of both men can be seen in the finished product.

Set in the mid 21st Century, scientists are searching for ways to make robots even more like humans.

The one thing they have been lacking is the ability to love. But Professor Hobby believes he has come up with the perfect model: A young boy who will unconditionally love.

Artificial Intelligence
Frances O'Connor transfers her love to robot child Haley Joel Osment

The endless money-making opportunities from selling the product to childless couples is not lost on the scientist.

Haley Joel Osment plays 11-year-old mecha David who is brought into the home of the Swintons as an experiment.

Their own son is cryogenically frozen following a fatal accident. David enters the home and desperately needy mum Monica, poignantly played by Frances O'Connor, immediately turns all the love and affection she has for her real son onto David.

Charisma

When their real son returns to life, David is discarded to fend for himself with just a mecha teddy to guide him.

The cute teddy is the robot's sidekick and is amazingly adept at thinking and moving for what is essentially a toy.

Action hero teddy is a starring role but it is at times too quickly deployed as a device to move the plot on and bring in the rare laughs.

Artificial Intelligence
Osment's search leads to danger

The homelife David first enters appears only to be different from now by its labour-saving devices and the slightly futuristic architectural designs.

This is in stark contrast to the exciting and tawdry world inhabited by the mechas and the lower classes.

Jude Law's Gigolo Joe mecha was created as a love machine and his looks and charisma fit the part perfectly.

David sets himself a quest to get his "mother" to love him again and believes if he finds the Blue Fairy from the Pinocchio tale she will grant his wish.

He brushes with death and the law as he and Gigolo Joe escape torture at the Flesh Fair and stumble into an underwater Manhattan where David thinks he has at last found his holy grail.

Moral

One disappointment was that the fascinating world of the mechas who were free of human rule was not given enough screen time as so much was stuffed into one story.

The film at two-and-half hours did not drag but there was a point where it could have satisfactorily finished.

Instead, the world moves on another 2,000 years and the film really gets the Spielberg treatment with an ending that sits uneasily with the rest of the film which at times is brutal and bleak.

It turns into a moral tale of love conquering all and if you wish hard enough your dream will come true.

AI is a hybrid film for true sci-fi fans who want to view the potential of the future and a Disneyesque picture that will not send the younger viewers home to nightmares.

The special effects are fantastic and the film as a concept is truly amazing but it seems to have lost something in the translation to the big screen as it tries to capture audiences of all tastes.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Science writer Colin Tudge and critic Nigel Andrews
discuss Spielberg's AI
The BBC's Sue Nelson
reports on the real science behind Hollywood fiction
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