By Van Smith
Date: July 16, 2001
After reading several reviews panning the new movie AI, I did not have high expectations for Steven Spielberg's latest effort. However, after watching the show, I think AI is possibly the most refined work from that successful director.
But you are still left with a motion picture that has a jarringly split personality.
Subtlety is not Mr. Spielberg's strength, but for long stretches in AI he is admirably restrained. At these points, AI has the edginess of serious science fiction, al la Stanley Kubrick, the late director who incubated AI for decades. But, as if this restraint served to wind him tighter, Mr. Spielberg intermittently cuts loose with classic Spielberginan maudlin seizures, complete with giant moons, drippy music and disembodied fairytale voiceovers.
But despite this, the movie is still a good, entertaining flick -- as long as you are not an unyielding purist for either Kubrick or Spielberg.
Aside from a couple of intense scenes, a cuss word or two and a few innuendos, the movie is surprisingly family friendly -- certainly more so than most of primetime TV. Our two and three year old daughters sat quietly through the lengthy movie and talked about the show for days afterwards. AI has a pretty good heart as well, so parents can feel safe letting their kids watch it.
If you can suspend cynicism and are looking for a movie to escape into, AI is well worth seeing. It is also interesting for film fans in that it is evident that Mr. Spielberg cared about this movie, and it demonstrates he is developing as a director. AI is a positive accomplishment for this phenomenally successful moviemaker.