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What Definies Life?

  • Dec 6, 2005
This film was started by Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Oddysey) but finished by Stephen Spielberg (E.T., War of the Worlds).

A modern Pinocchio-like story, Haley Joel Osment plays an artificial intelligence that is "programmed" to love the Mother who buys him and speaks a specific activation code. However, his adoptive family rejects him, leaving him yearning for love and looking for the "blue fairy" for his answers--and a reunion with his beloved Mother.

Osment's character meets up with another A.I. named Gigolo Joe (brilliantly played Jude Law), as they navigate the city for answers.

Kubrick's edgy and gritty fingerprints are on several sections of this movie such as the sadistic gladiator-like games. Some parts were heart wrenching to watch, and Osment's and Law's performances were amazing. John Williams' score was also exquisite. I was a little disappointed at the ending, but the mystical themes of "what defines life?", alien intelligence, yearnings of the heart, and the cruelty of humanity make this movie both thought and conversation provoking.

Had Kubrick lived, I have a feeling the ending would have been much less hopeful (a signature of Spielberg films).

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Janet Boyer ()
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Author of The Back in Time Tarot BookandTarot in Reverse. Co-creator of theSnowlandDeck. Hall ofFame/ VineReviewer; Freelance Writer/Reviewer; Blogger; Professional Tarot Reader/Teacher; Lover … more
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History will place an asterisk next the film Stanley Kubrickmighthave directed. But let the record also show that Kubrick--after developing this project for some 15 years--wanted Steven Spielberg to helm this astonishing sci-fi rendition ofPinocchio, claiming (with good reason) that it veered closer to Spielberg's kinder, gentler sensibilities. Spielberg inherited the project (based on the Brian Aldiss short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long") after Kubrick's death in 1999, and the result is an astounding directorial hybrid. A flawed masterpiece of sorts, in which Spielberg's gift for wondrous enchantment often clashes (and sometimes melds) with Kubrick's harsher vision of humanity, the film spans near and distant futures with the fairy-tale adventures of an artificial boy named David (Haley Joel Osment), a marvel of cybernetic progress who wants only to be a real boy, loved by his mother in that happy place called home.

Echoes of Spielberg's Empire of the Sun are clearly heard as young David, shunned by his trial parents and tossed into an unfriendly world, is joined by fellow "mecha" Gigolo Joe (played with a dancer's agility by Jude Law) in his quest for a mother-and-child reunion. Parallels to Pinocchio intensify as David reaches "the end of the world" (a Manhattan flooded by melted polar ice caps), and a far-future epilogue propels A.I. into even deeper realms of wonder, even as it pulls Spielberg back to his comfort zone of sweetness and soothing sentiment....

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Director: Steven Spielberg
DVD Release Date: March 5, 2002
Runtime: 146 minutes
Studio: Dreamworks Video
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"What Definies Life?"
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