Spielberg comes back in directing this tribute to late director Stanley Kubrick. Originally, an idea of Kubrick’s, he died before he was able to make the film, so Spielberg got the idea to finish it and make it as more of an ode to the late director. It’s funny, the vision of both Kubrick and Spielberg’s can be seen throughout the entire film. From the flicker of a mere light to a vast landscape of a robot city, I found this to be an engaging movie with incredible lights and characters. The movie resembles the classic fairy tale “Pinocchio” almost identically, as throughout the entire two and a half hours of the movie, we experience David’s search for the “Blue Fairy”, a being that can turn him into a real boy.
Osment is phenomenal as the android David. If you look closely, you’ll notice that he never blinks throughout the entire movie. That was an intentional touch. Spielberg wanted the movie to be so life-like, that the actors that play robots never blink once. Haley Joel is excellent in conveying his raw emotions. At one moment he’ll look completely void of any love, then he will burst with sadness, desperation, and tears. The part that was especially gripping was when David begs for his mothers love as she is about to abandon him in the forest. In the movie we also see the character Joe, a love android whose sole purpose is to have sex only. He is the unlikely partner in David’s quest and is often his guide to the outside world.
My favorite character, believe it or not, would have to be Teddy. A super-toy who is with David throughout his entire journey and serves as his conscious. Spielberg constantly lets us know this is Kubrick’s vision while telling us constantly that this is his movie. The second half is just plain sloppy. I thought the movie was supposed to focus entirely on David’s quest to become a boy, yet it trails off into other adventures that are far from enchanting. The movie’s tone is so dull and slow-paced that it will take a lot of concentration to focus on this. I also felt the movie copped out on giving us a truly happy ending and just gives us some paranormal dribble along with a bittersweet and disappointing ending.
The characters have no depth which makes it hard for us to single out the one’s we like. At times it was hard to figure out who was playing the robots. The second half makes absolutely no sense showing a subplot with aliens and a long monologue with William Hurt’s character and Osment. I’m usually a huge devotee to Spielberg’s movies, but you can miss this one. I’m loyal to Spielberg and admittedly defensive of his body of work, but this one was very disappointing with a rather sub-par plot and a brutally dull delivery. I’ll still be waiting for his next one.