AI: Artificial Intelligence (2 Discs) (UK)
Journey To A World Where Robots Dream And Desire
Running Time: 149 mins
Retail Price: £24.99
Content Type: Movie
The long-awaited sci-fi epic that combines Kubrick`s genius with Spielberg`s magical touch, this is the story of a young robot that wants to be a boy....
Based on Brian Aldiss` short story `Super-Toys Last All Summer Long`, Artificial Intelligence was a long cherished project for Stanley Kubrick. Following Kubrick`s death, the film was inherited by Steven Spielberg and the result is of the most unusual and ambitious sci-fi epics of recent years.
The film follows the adventures of android boy David (Hayley Joel Osment) in a future of enforced single child families and global warming. Programmed with `a love that will never die` by visionary scientist Professor Hobby (William Hurt), he is selected to fill the childless void in the home of Monica Swinton (Frances O`Connor), and finally abandoned by her when her own son recovers from a life threatening illness. Setting out on a quest to become a real boy worthy of his mommy`s love, along the way he escapes a grotesque, televised `flesh fair` where robots are systematically destroyed in front of a raucous crowd. He then hooks up with Jude Law`s ace robot lover Gigolo Joe who escorts David to Rouge City, and eventually to an eerily waterlogged New York where the skyscrapers rear up like monoliths from the sea and David confronts his fate. Part futuristic fairy tale, part sci-fi parable, A.I. is a fascinating meeting of minds between the creators of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
Documentary on How A.I. Artificial Intelligence Was Brought to the Screen
Featurette on Production Design from Original Conceptual Drawings to Building of Sets
Interviews with Steven Spielberg, Haley Joel Osment, and Jude Law
Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes on the Design, Lighting and Costumes
Development and Creation of Robots of A.I. Including Visit to Stan Winston Studios
Creation of SFX on Set with Effects Supervisor Michael Lantieri
Interviews with Dennis Muren and Scott Farrar of Industrial Light And Magic
A Visit to Skywalker Sound
Conversation with John Williams about Scoring AI. Storyboard Sequences
Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Haley Joel Osment
Director of Photography:
Walter F. Parkes
Your Opinions and Comments
Law gives a great performance, while Osment is his typical annoying self.
The story is quite unique, but it suffers from several plot holes and inconsistencies.
The video transfer is excellent. There are no compression signs, which doesn`t come as a surprise, since this is a brand new movie. The visuals are very artistic and the quality of the CG animation is very high. However, my favorite visual effect was Teddy the bear.
The DD 5.1 soundtrack is ok. The surrounds are used occasionally, but I think this kind of a movie would`ve benefited of a more aggressive soundtrack.
The menus are animated with sound.
The extras include a very extensive behind the scenes look, some storyboards and several picture galleries. A commentary track by Spielberg is sadly missing.
Bottom line - definitely not the masterpiece everyone was expecting, but still - a decent movie.
The extras are comprehensive, yet far too "bitty" to really be satisfying.
Picture and sound are both very good, but we`d expect that anyway as standard.
Whilst A.I. may not be everyones cup of tea, it has to be said that on dvd the movie is given a chance to shine and be appreciated so much more. Spielberg and Kubricks stunning vision of the future has a lasting effect long after the credits have rolled, and te performances by all are absolutely top notch. There are some disturbing moments, and some very creepy touches; Teddy the childs toy has a most dis concerting feel, Stan Winstons puppet studio have done a stunning job bringing him to life, whilst the voice cast for Teddy is spot on. The first time you see him move on screen is quietly impressive it must be said!
If I were to go into things this review would be over 100 pages long, so its better you find out the delights of A.I. yourself. If you like Spielberg, then this will definitely appeal, and for those wanting something different from the usual cheese, you won’t go far wrong here.
A decent set of extra material, though nothing stands out as absolutely amazing interms of content. The small featurettes concerning the animation and robot design are goodm, as are those with the set design and special effects.
There`s an interesting interview with Gary Rydstrom, who designed the sound for the movie, followed by a short six minute interview with John Williams.
Overall the extras could be better, but are worthy and watchabel nonetheless.
Spielberg employed the same cinematographer as on Saving Private Ryan for AI, and it shows. The movie has a very stylised ‘dreamy’ appearance, achieved through the use of smoke and soft filtering on the camera lenses. This gives the overall look of the image a very soft and grainy look, but this is intentional, as the film posseses superb colour depth and excellent detail resolution, particularly the scenes during the flesh fair and as Jo (played by Jude Law), and David approach the sunken city of New York. In particular the depth offered by the image lends the many futuristic landscapes an awesome scope, and the many special effects by Industrial Light & Magic are given the justice they deserve with their perfect integration with the real world
There are some small traces of minor edge enhancement, but overall A.I.’s image Is extremely hard to fault, and is bordering on reference quality. Watch in a completely darkened room for maximum impact, and get lost in the most stunningly realises future depiction since Blade Runner.
Spielberg.Williams. Rydstrom. Three names synonymous with movie sound. Spileberg loves to get involved with movie sound, and it’s quite possible that without him we may never have had DTS. John Williams still remians the greatest movie composer to this day. His name has been attatched to a huge list of stunning movie scores, and his mere presence in the production of a movie guarantees a superb accompaniment. And Gary Rydstrom is the quiet guy who makes it all happen. Quite how this man weaves the magic with movie sound nobody will ever know, but every soundtrack he touches is dynamite, again a huge list of amazing surround audio tracks make up his portfolio and A.I. is just the latest.
So how good is the soundtrack to A.I.? Well, if you were expecting a big bang fest you’ve come to the wrong movie, but if you appreciate good sound design then stay and listen.
From the moment David steps into the movie the soundscape is just one big spacious environment. The movie is heavily reliant on the sound to make the on screen events an experience. The dreamy look of the film is echoed in the sublime musical score which ebbs and flows throughout the entire duration of the movie, with there being very little moments of complete silence.
To achieve the desired effect, the sound designers have made every conceivable use of every channel in the system to create a stunningly transparent and spacious listening space. At times the only detectable point source is the centre channel, the rest just seems to come from nowhere, with sound moving between the 6 channels effotlessly. The use of the surrounds is paramount to the atmosphere of the audio, and the emotion drenched finale to the movie demonstrates this perfectly. As the alien life forms explain to David what lies before him, the beautiful score exists all around, with absolutely no detection of where or what speaker its coming from! The liberal and creative use of the .1lfe channel serves to add wonderfl depth to both the score and the many spot effects in the movie. The flesh fair has a potent and aggressive feel, with heavily engaged low frequency effects to add to the gritty on screen events. And as the movie moves to the lost city, the sound moves to a dreamy state to portray the feeling of wonderment and loneliness as seen on screen.
The musical score has been beautifully recorded and integrated into the soundmix, and Rydstroms ‘home made’ sound effects and weird and wonderful noises give the movie a very authentic feel. Those with the provision of surround ex or matrixed rear sound will enjoy stunning spaciality at the rear of the room, with fully encircling audio all around the viewer.
The dts surrround mix delivers a noticeably more spacious sonic environment, with greater ambience in all channels, and a deeper and better inteagrated low end presence. Compare the music at the end with the Dolby track to hear the biggest difference.
With this said though, both mixes deliver a superbly atmospheric surround experience, and once again Gary Rydstrom and Skywalker sound have delivered another exemplary soundtrack. Emotion, exciement and detail. It’s what every soundtrack should be…
Overall this is a bizarre and yet thoroughly absorbing movie, vastly different from anything Spielberg has put his name to before. Try before you buy though, as this won`t appeal to all.
Give it a try?
Undeterred, but with my expectations set, I embarked on a viewing.
Maybe it was because of the expectations, but I found that the film worked for me. The 2hours+ just went past with no hint of clock watching and I was involved in the plot.
The animation of Teddy is certainly impressive, as are the general level of special effects which all blend in seamlessly.
I`m not yet sure if I`ll watch it all through again, and I haven`t started on the 2nd disk of extras yet, but I`m glad I watched it.
I can`t say I`ve read Brian Aldiss`s original story (or if I have its too long ago).
In contrast the bicentennial man which I have read several times, but was sadly disappointed by that film.
All those people at the party should go watch this again! :-)
So please, give this film a second viewing as it will become a `cult` classic, and wouldnt you like to say `I told you so`
Surely the teaming up of Spielberg and Kubrick would be a critical dream. Not so, the film received mixed reviews from critics and only grossed $90million in the US. However it did go on to gross another $150million worldwide. Perhaps we have different sensibilities.
"A.I." sports a pristine 1.85:1 transfer and is the usual high standard you expect from a Spielberg DVD. The transfer is very sharp and edge enhancements remain virtually non-existent. Blacks and contrast are superb. The film does at times exhibits a grainy quality, but this is purely an artistic choice by Spielberg and cinematographer Janiusz Kaminski. Their artistic choices also make colour hard to judge, as the film exhibits quite a de-saturated look. However the colours in Chapter 19, the introduction of Rouge City are very vibrant and stand out from the blacks.
"A.I." is certainly a stunning looking film. Kaminski is one of the best cinematographers around and he is once again on top of his game here. His lighting has an almost sanctified quality and while Spielberg's approach to camerawork is not stylized (his first and foremost ideal is to tell the story), there are some fabulous shots in the film. The introduction of David is suitably and eerily memorable, Rouge City is a usual city, and the end shot is a subtlety, understated emotional pull.
The visual effects are also pretty spectacular. Thankfully Spielberg believes in the idea of animatronic first, CGI if it's not possible. Stan Winston's work is fantastic in this film and so are ILM's CGI effects. There were only two shot that I could tell that I was watching a CGI Teddy and not the robot. The future cities set are also fantastic, Rouge City reminding me of a disco-esque Blade Runner and we get one of those rare looks of county-life in the future.
Audio: A DD5.1EX (no DTS, which is a surprise for a Spielberg release) is definetly not as aggressive as most Spielberg films; then again the film isn't either. Surrounds are used fairly often for ambience and placement. They only really kick in at the Flesh Fair and Rouge City, in which the soundstage is used to create a living 360-degree environment. Dialogue is always clear (even some extras in Rouge City are clearly audible) and I detected no defects.
John Williams' multi-award nominated score suits the film very well, although it isn't particularly memorable. I have most Williams' score on CD, I don't have this. I'm not saying it's bad, it just something I wouldn't listen to.
For someone who hasn't written a full script since "Poltergeist", Spielberg's writing is extremely apt. This proves that not only is Spielberg one of the best directors around, he is also a very good writer and the screenplay exhibits no signs of a man out of practice.
Extras: Unsurprisingly for a Spielberg DVD, all extras are done by Spielberg cohort Laurent Bouzereau and are in Widescreen. Surprisingly for a Spielberg 2-Disc, there is an extra on Disc 1, the 12-mintue featurette, "Creating A.I." This feature delves into the story behind "A.I", from Kubrick's idea to Spielberg's decision to direct it.
Disc 2 starts off with "Acting A.I" which lasts about 15 minutes and is spilt into two categories, "A Portrait of David" and "A Portrait of Gigolo Joe". Both concentrate on the actors and their preparation for their roles.
· "Designing A.I." is spilt into two segments and concentrate on the production of the film. "From Drawings To Sets" (7 minutes) shows how the storyboards and drawings were used to imagine the look of the film. "Dressing A.I." (5 minutes) is about the look of the costumes.
· "Lighting A.I." (4 minutes) is an interesting look into the lighting of the three acts of A.I and is something that I wished would last longer.
· "Special Effects" (7 minutes) is a look at the spectacular effects work and contains revelation on effects that I thought were practical effects not CGI.
· "Robots of A.I." (13 minutes) talks about the characters of the robots in A.I and their place in society and Stan Winston's effects.
· "Special Visual Effects and Animation: ILM" is split into five segments; "An Overview", (5 minutes) "The Robots", (3 minutes) "The Miniatures", (4 minutes) "The New York City Sequence: Shot Progression", (3 minutes) and "Animating A.I". (8.minutes) concentrate on the VFX of the titles.
· "The Sound and Music of A.I" is separate into; "Sound Design" (7 minutes), which is an interview with Gary Rydstrom and "Score" (6 minutes) which is an interview with John Williams.
· "A.I. Archives" contains all the trailers, photos, drawings and bios.
Overall: "A.I" is a wonderful film and like so many sci-fi classics was unjustly under-rated on release. Perhaps in ten years time, "A.I." will be held in such high esteem as "Blade Runner" and "2001". The acting is top drawer. Haley Joel Osment proves "The Sixth Sense" was no fluke and he indeed is a great actor, not a great child actor. His intelligence and professionalism is echoed in the extras. Here he gives a wonderfully subtle performance. He is a robot, yes but as the films progress it becomes increasingly hard not to believe he has his own emotions and hopes and not just what he is programmed to do. Frances O'Connor gives a woefully under praised performance as David's mother. I can only attribute this to the fact that she is only in 50 minutes of the film, but still as I look at several nomination lists for that year, I feel she is a glaring omission. Another award-worthy performance is Jude Law, who acts with a confidence and flair not seen since the all-singing movies of the 50's. And then there's William Hurt who comes on for one scene (Chapter 24) and out-acts them all. An acting tour-de-force of rediscovery, hope and acceptance.
A.I.'s themes are quite clear and quite prevalent even today. In the film we care more about two robots than any of the humans, by the end it's hard to believe that they are real. Take for instance in real life. Most people now would rather text somebody than talk to them, enhancing are neediness for technology and our detachment from society. Oh well, "A.I" is a great film and the DVD isn't too shoddy at all either. Though I'm starting to question my adoration for the medium………