Steven Spielberg begins this documentary by explaining about the future that sprang from Stanley Kubrick's imagination and all the different kind of Mecha's or Mechaniques that exist in it. They were all designed to perform a specific service and when their job is done, they become scrap. The late great Stan Winston tells about the design phase that started about four months prior to principal photography. No matter how extreme the designs would get, they made sure there was always an element of humanity in each robot. Some Mecha's were brought to life as complete animatronics, others were people in make-up, and amputee actors from 'Stunts-Abilites' were also called upon to play some of the visually stunning Mechaniques. The so-called insecurity guard (an animatronic) was based on Winston himself as a kind of in-joke. The Flesh fair sequence featured about 20 puppets and performers, with twice as many puppeteers working behind (and under the scenes.
One Mecha that proved to be even more cuddly than Haley Joel Osment was Teddy, who gets his own special segment, of course. Although some scenes were CGI, most of Teddy's movement was accomplished by traditionally animating a puppet. Lindsay MacGowan did the bulk of it, wearing a harness attached to Teddy to make his own steps match the bears. The documentary also features voice artist Jack Angel. Having already recorded all the lines for use during filming, Angel was still required to turn up on set each day so they could re-recorded any line on the spot if Spielberg felt it was not carrying the right inflection the first time.
Things begin to overlap a bit with other short subjects on the same disc when make up artist Ve Neill also explains about the make-up she devised for Gigolo Joe (Jude Law). After all, Joe already had his own featurette in the Acting A.I. portion of the DVD. She originally wanted to use a full silicon make up job a la the old age makeup from Back to the Future II and III, but ultimately decided against it. Instead they used a little prosthetic on his jawline and a foam latex layer on his face to create a plasticized look. Stan Wilson returns for the final word, saying A.I. is probably the most ambitious picture he ever worked on. Watching all these short subjects in a row, I am struck by all the work and details that went into creating Artificial Intelligence, but somehow it still doesn't make me want to sit through the entire picture again. Just goes to show that elaborate does not equal memorable.
7 out of 10
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