But then the movie almost immediately starts to stomp on its own feet. Our hero, David, the first of the new robot generation able to handle emotions, is apparently not the first. Otherwise his predecessors would not be able to fear death, develop cynism beyond their limited programming or forget their programming at all. Best example here the lovebot "Gigolo Joe," who tries to go undercover when he finds a dead woman in his apartment and later befriends David - all this goes far beyond "programmed reactions" as explained in the movie (why would the manufacturer program these into a lovebot at all?). Oh, and if you wonder how much thicker the plotline became due to "Gigolo Joe" imagine his role being deleted and try to think hard if he delivered anything useful.
(Ok, I will *not* argue about the question why David gets shortfused when he eats spinach but can fall into a pool and nothing happens or why with all the elaborate technology to mimic humans none of the bots blink.)
Then we see David getting left by his mother (or the person he was programmed to love) and his endless quest to find the "Blue Fairy" from "Pinocchio" who he thinks can make him a real boy and win him the love of his mother. Did I say endless? Yes, because all of us past age 8 know that this quest will be futile. You may feel sorry for David, but you will also feel like watching an accident happen and you can do nothing about it.
But then enter Mr. Spielberg. When you watch the last 30 minutes of the movie you will know what I mean. You can almost tell where Kubrick's notes ended for sure and where Spielberg took what he described as "his own intellectual freedom." At this point you will feel like watching "E.T." and "2001" at the same time - on an LSD trip. Spielberg tried so hard to reach the heights of Kubrick (and had Williams throw in some "2001"-like tunes for the final) it is almost pitiful how he ruins his own ambitions with his pink popcorn attitude to sooth the viewer. Spielberg just can't let us go without a pat on the shoulder and a reassuring "everything will be fine!"
How swell would everything have been, if the movie ended right there with David staring and begging and Teddy eternally sitting with him. Audiences would have left the theaters wondering "are we aware of what a responsibility we are getting ourselves into there?" I would have even forgotten about the above mentioned implausibility of the emotional reactions the earlier robots had, which most likely were delivered to pull us onto the sides of the robots.
Which brings me to the one character I liked the best and felt genuinely sorry for: patient, enduring and quiet Teddy.
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