A.I.: David James
EW Staff
April 20, 2001 AT 04:00 AM EDT

A.I.

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG
runtime
145 minutes
Wide Release Date
06/29/01
performer
Haley Joel Osment, Frances O'Connor, Brendan Gleeson, William Hurt, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Sam Robards, Jake Thomas
director
Steven Spielberg
Producers
Amblin Entertainment, Stanley Kubrick Productions, Warner Bros.
distributor
Universal, Warner Bros.
author
Brian Aldiss, Steven Spielberg, Ian Watson
genre
Sci-fi and Fantasy, Drama

We gave it an A-

They didn’t shoot scenes in the Australian outback. But ask ”A.I. Artificial Intelligence” cast members to talk story line, and they sound like the contractually gagged contestants of a certain top rated reality show. ”It’s just like being on ‘Survivor’!” laughs O’Connor. Legally bound to keep mum on all plot details until after opening day, she reports that it’s ”incredibly frustrating for doing interviews.”

Not to mention that it’s a gauntlet thrown down to sci-fi fans itching to break news over the Internet. What appear to be bogus documents have already popped up online, such as a purported ”A.I.” screen treatment by Stanley Kubrick. ”I’ve seen that treatment,” says producer Bonnie Curtis, ”and it’s not the real thing.” Curtis also says that Kubrick and Spielberg corresponded by fax and phone for ”several years” as they evidently mapped out details of the movie together, ”poring over storyboards” and ruminating on a directing – producing partnership.

In fact, Kubrick had been obsessed with making ”A.I.” since he was first inspired by Spielberg’s 1982 ”E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” to film a kid’s story. Warner Bros. announced in 1995 that though Kubrick was keen to make ”A.I.,” which is based on a Brian Aldiss short story, he was switching to ”Eyes Wide Shut,” apparently to await improvements in F/X technology. Kubrick died in 1999 with a mass of preproduction material completed, and a year later Spielberg took over. The result, says Curtis, ”isn’t all Stanley and isn’t all Steven. It’s Steven interpreting Stanley, and it’s a wonderful marriage to see.”

Osment plays a nonhuman manufactured in the form of a cute 11-year-old. After he’s adopted by a family haunted by the loss of their child, he embarks with another misfit supertoy (Law) on an odyssey to become ”a real boy” à la ”Pinocchio,” exploring a future Earth where coastal cities lie underwater. For Osment, making the movie was like keeping a secret diary. ”Steven said it was one of the most closed projects he’s ever done,” he says. ”I rarely remember any visitors on the set. Usually I couldn’t see people anyway, because we were always hiding because of the makeup.”

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