Movie Review: A.I.


Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor, Sam Robards, Jake Thomans, Brendan Gleeson, William Hurt, and the voices of Chris Rock, Meryl Streep, Ben Kingsley, and Robin Williams
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Screen Story by Ian Watson.
Screenplay by Steven Spielberg
Based on the short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long”

Legendary director Steven Spielberg’s latest offering is an absorbing journey, a monumental and cerebral achievement – a powerhouse experience.

A.I was conceived by Stanley Kubrick twenty-odd years ago, and after his death Spielberg took up the baton and helmed the completion of the project.

Some say that Spielberg did not replicate the vision fashioned by Kubrick. Maybe not – and it is humanly impossible to imagine what Kubrick ultimately had in mind – but Spielberg demonstrates sensitivity to the subject.

The entire story seems to be punctuated with an elaborate attachment theory, which is why I’m on board with this film. The meanings of this film give it resonance especially as it relates to artificial intelligence, something that is made by humans for humans, but comes with the same needs as humans.

Needy robot

David (Haley Joel Osment), a robot child, wants to connect with his human mother, yet is separated from her. His accidental journey into a futuristic world of melted polar ice caps is by default for he would sooner know family comforts. The quest for affirmation leads him into an eerie milieu, but he ultimately craves reassurance from his mother.

Needy humans

The humans are also needy. The “inventor” of David (William Hurt) is a needy person, as are the parents who adopted David. They try to seek meaning through each other, and so they create what they think can bring happiness, as in the making of the child robot. Ultimately, the need culminates in their survival, but comfort is granted through psychological symbols and dreams rather than each other.


Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) is brilliant from his initial creepy clinging to mother Monica, to that of a vulnerable and lost searcher, needing affection, becoming a sojourner for meaning. It is a bittersweet and moving irony considering David was made to help humanity.

The leisurely, contemplative pace may be too slow and introspective for some, but is nevertheless a beautifully striking visual film. Kubrick is known as a complex dark filmmaker and Spielberg is the fantasy storyteller of fairy tale myths, but it comes together in terms of what this film is saying–which is meaningful.

[Originally published at in 2001 then edited in 2017 for peteswriting blog]