In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.
In the not-so-far future the polar ice caps have melted and the resulting rise of the ocean waters has drowned all the coastal cities of the world. Withdrawn to the interior of the continents, the human race keeps advancing, reaching the point of creating realistic robots (called mechas) to serve them. One of the mecha-producing companies builds David, an artificial kid which is the first to have real feelings, especially a never-ending love for his "mother", Monica. Monica is the woman who adopted him as a substitute for her real son, who remains in cryo-stasis, stricken by an incurable disease. David is living happily with Monica and her husband, but when their real son returns home after a cure is discovered, his life changes dramatically.Written by
Chris Makrozahopoulos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The screenplay "borrows" liberally from Osamu Tezuka's 1952 manga Tetsuwan Atomu (known as Astro Boy in the English speaking world), in which a scientist creates an emotion-capable boy robot to replace his dead son, but becomes frustrated when he realizes the robot will never grow up or become human. He sells Astro Boy to the Robot Circus, where he's forced to do battle with other robots in gladiator-style combat. See more »
The Swintons live in New Jersey, but Martin's prescription bottle is from a Los Angeles pharmacy. (This is visible briefly when the spinning turntable stops and before the bottle is picked up.) See more »
[narrating, with ocean waves crashing together]
Those were the years after the ice caps had melted... because of the greenhouse gases, and the oceans had risen drown so many cities... along all the shorelines of the world. Amsterdam, Venice, New York - Forever lost. Millions of people were displaced. Climates became chaotic. Hundreds of millions of people starved in poorer countries. Elsewhere a high degree of prosperity survived... when most governments in the developed world... ...
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In theatrical previews, on one of the final credit frames, the Hebrew word "Chochmoh", meaning wisdom or knowledge, is written in small red letters. See more »
For the U.S. theatrical release, the Warner Bros. logo appeared before the Dreamworks logo at the beginning of the film, and the poster credits said, "Warner Bros. and Dreamworks Pictures present." Since the U.S. version's home video/DVD rights are owned by Dreamworks, the Dreamworks logo at the beginning of the movie appears before the Warner Bros. logo, and the back of the box's cover art says, "Dreamworks Pictures and Warner Bros. present." See more »
Being a fan of both Kubrick and Spielburg, this movie was a surprising miss. It tries real hard, but gets confused and lost.
I've read that Kubrick originally worked on this project before Spielburg picked it up. I don't know to what extent each actually worked on filming, but it sure does feel like two different directors worked on this movie - which is problem # 1.
Both have a unique style that do not mix well. Kubrick is a master at disciplined contemplation of a moral issue while Spielburg is a master at spinning a wonderfully entertaining yarn. This film tries to do both and it just doesn't work.
The first act of the film, which to me feels entirely Kubrickian, is great. We are immediately immersed in a moral conundrum. The pit is deep, dark, poignantly adorned with characters against a somber stage that compels us to engage the material. It also is very much in the style of Kubrick: sets, lots of master shots, slow moving and ponderous "photography in motion." The ambience is there to serve the story in every detail. If this was Spielburg's homage to Kubrick, well done. If this was Kubrick's work, wel l, it was right on target. (I really miss his work.)
The characters are drawn clearly if not archetypically and draw us unabashedly into the ring of moral discourse which we achingly yet eagerly embrace.
Then, the story that is being constructed is completely abandoned in the second act as the main character (boy robot) is taken completely out of the setting that's been developed to this point and we embark on an odyssey of sorts. I spent most of the second act wondering what was going to happen in the plot that was being developed in the first act. We never find out.
From this point on, the movie is all Spielburg. Fanciful staging, lots of effects, the obligatory allusion to the holocaust and gut-wrenching turmoil for our little hero and his friend. This is a huge contrast to the beginning of the story and is so different that it really feels like a whole different movie. Following the sublime Chardonnay of Kubrick with the super-charged Frappucino of Spielburg is unsettling and frustrating. For example, the staging in the first act is dominated by polished wood floors, furniture that is both kitsch and futuristic and smoky corporate offices. The second act is pretty much Back to the Future meets Thunderdome. The two have their place - but not in the same movie!
Where the first act compels us to consider the matter, the second act throws us against the wall, puts a gun to our head and screams, "listen to me!"
By the third act, I had really lost interest. I never quite got over the abandonment of the original story and didn't really feel like getting involved in the second one - both because it wasn't as interesting and because I didn't want to be cheated twice in two hours.
The end of the third act is really where the movie should have stopped. It was sad, pitiful and left us with the core moral issue of how we tend to implement an idea without thinking of the consequences.
But, no, here comes the fourth act - and the other major problem with this movie. Epilog, coda, call it what you want, the ending was tacked on and was just horrible. More face time for the FX folks and some really trite, contrived and irrelevant dialog from robots about the space-time continuum. Really, who cares? It's just an awkward plot device and you roll your eyes and ask "Wha--?" all at the same time. The second ending, as I like to call it, attempts to fulfill the demand for emotional conclusion that the odyssey portion of the film has built up yet fails to do so. "Whatever" comes to mind. I bet this was done in response to test screening.
Still, I'm glad I saw this movie. It has some great moments, compelling subject matter and Osment puts in a truly great performance. Just don't look for coherent plot and a sensible story line.
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