The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

AI: Artificial Intelligence

Written by: The CinCitizens


Two of CC2k's staff members take on the Spielberg/Kubrick sci-fi flick. The world may never be the same.

ImageI got together with CC2k staff member Lance Carmichael recently to give AI: Artificial Intelligence another look. Lance had only seen the movie once in the theater, and he didn't care for it that much. I had seen it in the theater and loved it, and had since watched it several times, though this was my first full viewing in at least a year. In the spirit of The Two Towers Strike Back, we've agreed to hold an extended discussion. I'll go first:

Tony Lazlo, CC2k staff writer: Our reactions were different, and though I can't speak for Lance, my core opinion of the movie remains the same: I'm glad it exists. How often will we get to see a posthumous collaboration between two such eminent – and different – directors? How often will we get to see one director go to such lengths to fulfill the vision of a completely different director? How often will we get to see a master of popular entertainment (Spielberg) stand in for a master of highbrow filmmaking (Kubrick)?

Seldom, if ever, I say – and that's why AI is such a fascinating creature to behold, even if it fails as a full-length narrative. Hell, I still don't think it even qualifies as such.

I'm going to go ahead and quote one of Lance's great observations about Kubrick: The man doesn't make movies in three acts, but in what Lance calls "non-submersible units," meaning that Kubrick constructs his movies into five or six units that can function as their own short films while still fitting together into a satisfying whole. To his credit, Spielberg tries his best to ape this structure (heh heh). Speaking of aping, I will now try to break AI down into NSUs, and I look forward to Lance correcting me in his response:

1. Asimov Lives: Spielberg introduces us to our resident, seemingly benevolent  robotics engineer. One of the engineer's underlings tells us that moral questions will be dealt with in the coming story.
2. Kubrick directs Spielberg: Creepy, alienating action in one of Spielberg's favorite thematic stomping grounds: a family in suburbia.
3. Robosexuality: Jude Law sashays onscreen to introduce us to the length and breadth of the robot world, mixing equal parts C-3PO, Gene Kelly, Casanova and Dirk Diggler. This NSU continues until the capture of Gigolo Joe and David.
4. The Birth of the Replicants: At the monster-truck-rally-ish Flesh Fair, we learn that humans hate robots as long as they don't look human.
5. Gigolo Joe Wants To Be A Father: In Rouge City – our neon-randy stand-in for Pleasure Island – we learn that robot whores rule, and that the greatest advances in robotic intelligence and emotional development don't come in the laboratory – they come in the field.
6. Meeting Dr. Hobby: David meets his "real" father, and he's a fucking psycho.
7. Spielberg directs Kubrick: Spielberg tries to go all Bowman on little David, dragging him 2,000 years into the future where he meets a bunch of human-exceptionalist robots who aren't worth shit.

There's lots more to talk about, including the one character I discovered was the most loathesome in this movie, but I now open the floor to Lance.