A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother.A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother.A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother.
The acting - Haley Joel Osment as David the mecha (robot) boy is superb. He plays the role with such intelligence and maturity - it's a real achievement and bodes well for his future (if he can avoid hitting the self destruct button like so many other child stars.) Jude Law puts in another solid performance as 'Gigolo Joe' the mecha prostitute. In a similar vein to his previous roles in Gattaca and eXistenZ, he's quirky and somehow detached from reality - it works brilliantly. He's rapidly turning into one of my favourite actors. "Hey Joe - Waddya know?"
The rest of the cast is very good but doesn't shine, perhaps because their characters were treated lightly and not fully explored. Overall though - good performances by all.
The sets , costumes and special effects are of a very high standard. Until the last 30 minutes or so, the use of computer graphics is tastefully done and never feel like an excuse to wow the audience with some clever CGI. The scenes at the Flesh Fair (a kind of rock concert where mecha are destroyed for the entertainment of spectators) are powerful, visceral and in your face. The flying and underwater scenes were also very well handled, although not mind blowing.
Now the downside, and it's a big downside.
The plot is incredibly disjointed. I didn't expect it to be so obvious that this movie had been directed by two different people and thought Spielberg to be more subtle. There was apparently little attempt by Spielberg to blend his parts of the movie with Kubrick's to create a coherent whole. Instead what we get is a wonderfully dark first 60-90 minutes and then something reminiscent of 'Close Encounters of the E.T. kind' tacked on to make us feel good. As a result, the feel of the film quickly evaporated into a mush. There were a couple of chances to end the movie earlier (notably at the end of the underwater section) and it was a mistake to take the movie beyond these points. The poignancy is lost with repeated attempts to extend and explain the story in unnecessary ways, the scene with David's mother towards the end being especially contrived and saccharin.
The sum up, this felt like two movies in one - an intelligent, dark and fascinating film mixed one that's formulaic, sentimental and cheesy. Because of this it fails to reach the promised heights and at times feels messy. It's ultimately unsatisfying and left me very disappointed, but not because it's bad, but rather because I expected so much more. As many others have said, I can't help wondering what heights it would have reached if Kubrick hadn't passed away.
An interesting film, but rent it first as it's not for everyone.
- Mar 24, 2002