The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

The Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

“A.I.: Artificial Intelligence”
Rated PG-13

Elegantly written, visually opulent and thematically challenging and discontented, 2001’s “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” amounted to one of Steven Spielberg’s finest, most fiercely misread films. (For a coda derided as pap, love sure felt brutally tantamount to knowledge.)

An unsettling sci-fi fairytale mélange of “Pinocchio” and “The Wizard of Oz,” “A.I.” wedded Spielberg’s visual wizardry to Stanley Kubrick’s bitter reality. (The duo developed “A.I.,” and Spielberg prioritized it after Kubrick’s 1999 death.)

Spielberg’s screenwriting and direction worked in perfect concert with Kubrick’s spirit, where the mere choice of pronouns and the presence of trademark symbols pierced the soul. Spielberg collected a hard toll in even the most sentimental journeys of David (Haley Joel Osment), the robot at the forefront of this futuristic story.

A replacement son to two families — conceived and commoditized by one, abandoned by another — David has an insatiable thirst to understand human love. He’ll find it encompasses great fear, jealousy, anger, sadness, evil and death — all that we cannot fully appreciate love without using as points of reference.

That contrast extends to other characters: the curdling of a maternal connection to David in a claustrophobic first act; the hazards of passion and lust from lover robot Gigolo Joe (Jude Law); temporary elation and creator’s remorse of a robot pioneer (William Hurt).

Even when David finally seems to serve his own need for love, he’s still serving someone else. Avoiding “Bicentennial Man”-style schmaltz, “A.I.” offered one of the decade’s harshest, heartiest examinations of the human condition.

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4 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: A.I.: Artificial Intelligence”

  1. […] Intelligence” (2001) seemed surprisingly appropriate. I had heard so much about “A.I.” – some good, some bad – that I figured it was about time I saw Spielberg’s take on Stanley Kubrick’s […]

  2. […] Artificial Intelligence “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” — visually opulent and thematically challenging — is the latest in Nick Rogers’ look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009. Continue reading → […]

  3. Navdeep Singh says:

    This was a very interesting movie. I really liked it.

  4. […] view of easily corruptible humanity rattled around in Spielberg’s blood after 2001’s “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence,” as “Minority Report” infuses Philip K. Dick’s classic sci-fi noir with deep cyberpunk […]