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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Blu-ray Review)

Stanley Kubrick has already been documented as one of the greatest directors that ever lived, and Steven Spielberg is considered by some to be one of the greatest living directors of all time.  What would happen if both of these world class directors teamed up to make a movie?  A.I. Artificial Intelligence would be that project, but unfortunately Stanley Kubrick would not see the film come to fruition due to his untimely death in 1999.  Kubrick was initially inspired to make A.I. when he read Brian Aldiss’ short story Supertoys Last All Summer Long in the 1970’s. It was a project that he nurtured for many years and he even brought Spielberg on board to direct the film while he produced.  It was not meant to be, so Spielberg took the reigns himself and brought A.I. to the world about two years after Kubrick’s death. 

Film 

In the near (or not to distant future) the human race live side by side with Mechas.  Mechas are highly advanced robots with near human intelligence.  They’re fully functional synthetic humanoid beings that are not only used for companionship, but to also take out the garbage.  The human race thought of everything!  David (Haley Joel Osment) is the latest creation of the Cybertronics corporation.  David is the first of his kind in that he can have emotions like a real human boy.  He can feel pain, anger, envy, and love.  David becomes the temporary surrogate child-Mecha to a grieving couple whose child is in cryo-stasis due to an illness.  How will these parents cope with the fact that David is more human than human?

David is not alone.  “Teddy” will be his best friend and companion on this journey that will last a couple thousand years.  Teddy is a highly advanced teddy bear Mecha that was created for children to play with until those same children got bored and discarded him for the next best thing.  Teddy is awesome and one of the best characters ever created to grace film, and he’s not even real!  David being too creepily “real” for his adoptive parents to handle ends up getting cast out into a dangerous world that now frowns upon wayward Mecha robots.  They’re rounded up and used in the “Flesh Fairs” where bloodthirsty humans go to watch robots get dismantled in many creative and disturbing ways.  It’s like a rock concert.

Along the treacherous path to self discovery David happens upon Gigolo-Joe (Jude Law) who has problems of his own.  Joe joins David and takes him under his wing to help him along with his journey.  When I first saw A.I. way back on DVD in 2001-2002 I thought it was okay.  It felt kind of long in certain parts, but that was alright, it was a neat “disposable” science fiction film that I probably wouldn’t revisit for a long time to come.  Then the critic reviews and analysis came in and everyone seemed to have a lukewarm opinion to it.  A few weeks before I got a copy of A.I. I ended up getting a copy of  A.I. Artificial Intelligence: From Stanley Kubrick to Steven Spielberg: The Vision Behind the Film as a birthday present.  This also made me go to the library and check out Supertoys Last All Summer Long by Brian Aldiss.  You could say  that I was stuffed on A.I.!   Then the Blu-ray came in and it turned out that A.I. was pretty subversive.

I know Spileberg in the past has gotten the blame for bringing in his sentimental sensibilities to the film.  Even I blamed him for that, too.  I could not have been more wrong.  I’ll tell you this, the humans are all scum in A.I.. Yeah, you read right.  They’re all driven by ego, hatred, personal gain, lust, etc.  Kind of like…us!  I did not like any of the human characters at all.  It never dawned on me until now, that that was the whole point of A.I.. Whether Kubrick or Spielberg thought this out as a social commentary or not, I see it at as that.  We’re on the path to destruction, and when we start to build artificially intelligent beings to keep us company, well, we’re going to destroy them too.  Yay!  That’s pretty brutal.  It’s also why I really liked the film.  There are tons of layers to peel back including the obvious Pinocchio metaphors and comparisons which, to this day, can’t seem to be lived down.  And that’s okay.

Video 

A.I. is presented in 1080p 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio.  A.I. looks damn good!  There are some scenes that look like they were shot in digital but were not.  Those are the very impressive visual effects that Spielberg’s A-team from ILM created.  Spielberg used many filters throughout the production of A.I. that some scenes do have a sort of mechanical quality to them.  They are cold.  Flesh tones appear their best when inside David’s home.  There is plenty of golden low light there and I love low light.  Shot on 35mm film there is some beautiful grain spread out through A.I. that looks natural and pleases the eye.  I did not notice any obvious edge enhancement and DNR was not overused in a bad way.  Even in high definition some of the Mecha special effects look seamless.  I could not detect where the effect started or where it ended.

Audio 

A.I. is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1.  Here’s another near reference audio track in all its full lossless glory!  The LFE rumbles, the night life in Rouge City pulses, and the John Williams score is one his best latter ones, in my opinion.  When Ministry takes the stage at the Flesh Fair, be sure to duck, otherwise you may get hit in the face by some robot remnants.  Dialogue sounds clean and natural, and the surrounds are used adequately throughout the film.  I did not detect instances of clipping or distortion.  Like the video, the audio is just as good.

Special Features

A.I. should be packed with a bevy of special features, but it is not.  Don’t let the list fool you.  It’s just creative marketing at work.  There’s over an hour of making-of featurettes included (all in SD), and two trailers (in HD).  They’re ports from the DVD.  What sucks is that they’ve all been chopped up into smaller bits of programming to make it seem like there’s more content.  Not cool.

  • Creating A.I.
  • Acting A.I.
  • Designing A.I.
  • Lighting A.I.
  • A.I./FX
  • The Robots of A.I.
  • Special Visual Effects and Animation: ILM
  • The Sound and Music of A.I.
  • Closing: Steven Spielberg: Our Responsibility to Artificial Intelligence
  • A.I. Archives
  • 2 Theatrical Trailers (HD)

Final Thoughts 

A.I. is surely not for everyone.  For those that want to take the chance and go on a journey of a possible future Earth  then the Blu-ray is your best way to do it.  If it weren’t for the stinted special features on this disc it would have garnered a higher score overall.  The film, though, is a near masterpiece.  Ten years after seeing it for the first time I totally get it, and I’m sure there’s even more to it that I’ve yet to discover.  Loved it!

Order A.I. Artificial Intelligence on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

4 Responses to “A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    I can’t remember if I liked this or not when I saw it so many years ago.

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Given that Spielberg hates to have bonus features for his films, I would say this is the best you can get. Still sucks that they’re all in SD though.

    Really solid review, even if I am not a big fan of the movie. I do remember liking Jude Law a lot in it and creepy Haley Joel.

  3. Gerard Iribe

    Yeah, those special features are a cheat. It was one big featurette sliced up into mini featurettes. Fail.

  4. BIg Boys Oven

    one of my favourite!