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AI Apology

Tuesday 22 January 2013, 12:05

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

When I interviewed Steven Spielberg last week I felt the need to apologise to him for getting it so wrong when I first reviewed AI - here's why I have revised my opinion of this film.

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    Comment number 21.

    This is one Mark isn't that keen on but my Spielberg guilty pleasure is Munich. I'm not a Spielberg fan; I don't like the schmaltz, I think when he does historical dramas he choses safe, consensual ground such as the evil of the holocaust, the evil of slavery or the bravery of American soldiers in WW2 and I REALLY hate all his tracking shots into someone's awe reaction as it looks really fake and awful. Munich, however, is a director working out of his comfort zone and that's what I like. No cheesy camera movements, no schmaltz, a morally ambiguous movie that will divide audiences and with very natural performances from a fantastic non-starry cast. People rave about the visceral opening scene to Saving Private Ryan but I still felt my heartstrings being pulled but the assassination on the canal barge in Munich was so, so cold and ruthless I thought "My God, Steven, I didn't think you had it in you to shoot a scene like that". Munich, for me, feels like a companion piece to Day of the Jackal.

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    Comment number 22.

    I know that Mark finds Minority Report cold but I feel that is the film's strength. For me the best films are the ones which have incredible complexity which require repeated viewing to grasp it's themes and Minority report does this hands down.Themes such Free will versus determinism, the idea of surrendering freedom for the government protection, intrusive capitalism that ends privacy (e.g the eye scans). I could go on. For every time I watch a Minority Report I always get something new from it and that is what makes it so great.

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    Comment number 23.

    Glad to see you not only realised how good AI is, but also admit that for once you were wrong. Most people see a film on their release, rave about it or run it down, and then spend the rest of their lives living in a sort of cinematic bubble of denial unshaken by maturity and the fact that history really is the greatest critic for films. For my money, the original Star Wars doesn't have the shine it once had when I was a kid, and I'm well aware that I'm in a minority. But I don't care. In regards to Spielberg, he still hasn't made a better film than Jaws, which is my favourite film of all time. I like Schindler's List, E.T, Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan, and I love the Indiana Jones films (well, the first three, naturally), and there are parts of all his other films (yes, even 1941 and Hook) that appeal to me, but for my money it's his 1970's output that can't be beaten. Duel, the forerunner for Jaws, and The Sugarland Express are all minor classics. AI is not only one of Spielberg's most misunderstood films, but it's also the perfect tribute to my favourite film-maker Stanley Kubrick. Somehow, two disparate film artists fused together to create a truly unique visual poem, one that is very rare indeed in this day and age. Whereas most of Spielberg's film will age, AI will definite not!

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    Comment number 24.

    For me there is no doubt, out of all of Spielberg's films the two guilty pleasure must be "Catch me if you Can" and "The Last Crusade" Both two frequently overlooked movies of Spielberg but two of his masterpieces. The first one being such a clever, frenetic film and yet managing to perfectly blend in comedy and drama. It has great themes, I really love catch me if you can.
    The Last Crusade for me is the best Indiana Jones movie, so perfectly understanding what that franchise was made for and getting in the best character of the "quadrilogy" who is of course Indy's Father, flawlessly played by Sean Connery.

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    Comment number 25.

    I was quite disappointed by Minority Report after I had seen it for the first time. I assume, I was not into the idea of these so called "pre-cogs" and a little annoyed by the performance of Samantha Morton and her character Agatha. Moreover I thought - at that time - that all the action was rather boring, too and I didn't like the ending.
    All that overshadowed the quite brillant ideas-driven concept, the neo-noir tone of the piece and the impressive visuals and designs of the whole setting. Today I like the film a lot more...

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    Comment number 26.

    Back in December you asked us what out Top Ten Dustin Hoffman movies were and at the very last second you noted "if you're going to suggest Hook, forget it".

    I'm delighted to see that this rule doesn't apply in this case. It must be complete childhood nostalgia but I really do love that film. At the very least I don't think it's THAT bad. Is it?

    And to repeat my opinion on the matter of Hoffman's performance, he does really disappear in that role.

    I've read that Spielberg said he's uncomfortable with the the design of the Neverland world and had he done it today he would've used a live action actor in a completely digital set. I have to ask. Would that really have been better?

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    Comment number 27.

    Although Jaws remains my Favourite Spielberg movie, Catch me if you can is for me one of his least recognised classics. With DiCaprios chameleon like performance and Hanks's cold FBI agent it is however Christopher Walkens blind with love father who steals the show.

    With Comedy and drama subtly mixed to make what should be a dull drama a bright spark. Who knows if Daniel Craig had done a Walken impression Munich may have been watchable......

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    Comment number 28.

    Dear Doctor,

    I found it interesting that you mentioned Spielberg's War of the Worlds (2005). Although it received mixed reviews from critics - I'm straight away thinking of Roger Ebert, who I know you've mentioned before - I found the film was highly effective in the way that it played out more like a thriller than an 'end of the world/apocalypse' movie. I think this was achieved in the way that the narrative chose to focus on the way it affected one father and his children, as opposed to nations as a whole - particularly the scene when a hysteria breaks and a crowd are trying to take possession of the Tom Cruise character's car. The film had a very doom laden terror to it, and who can say that the scene when Tom Cruise is sprinting for his life away from a town being quite literally destroyed behind him, wasn't anything but fantastic.

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    Comment number 29.

    I'm glad that you now love A.I. It is one of my all-time favorite's not just in Spielberg only films. Same goes for Close Encounters which is my favorite Spielberg and 2nd favorite of all-time. There's none of Spielberg's that have really changed my opinion after the first viewing.
    There are a few that I have a secret pleasure for and one that stands at the top is Catch Me If You Can. Terrific performances by two of my favorite actors DiCaprio and Hanks, who seemed fine to play second fiddle to Leo for his role of Frank Abagnale Jnr. This was way over-looked in the Oscars in my opinion. Another impressive thing about this film is the beautiful cinematography which looked very familiar from other Spielberg classics. It seemed very personal and very moving throughout.
    Others that I must mention is The Terminal. It really surprised me how charming and funny it was and I wanted more of it. Once again, Tom Hanks is doing what he does best and creates a character that everyone just has to love.
    I know you will hate me for saying is, but I love Hook. It's everything a family film should be. Nice basic story with a great mix of adventure, fantasy and top swashbuckling action. The sets are so impressive they alone make it a good film, and the score is one of my favorites of all-time. Also, I was really surprised that Dustin Hoffman played Captain Hook. A bit like with Tootsi, it completely fooled me.

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    Comment number 30.

    I can't believe Mark has gone soft on A.I. It is one of the most boring films ever made. I like Spielberg but its slow, its ponderous and also it has no soul. No that is something I don't associate with Spielberg ois being boring. When the most itneresting thing about the film is when the kids behind where kicking my chair you kniow a film is not working and I was 18 when it came out. The classic Spielberg film that people don't rate is 1941 I know that is going to be controversial but I love that film. It obviously takes a very real subject and makes fun at the futility of war and also showcases how Spielberg can be funny when he parodies diffferent things. He pareodies the war serials, war films and even himself in the infamous starting shot of him making fun of Jaws. I think its awar comedy that does what its meant to, makes you laugh.

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    Comment number 31.

    Every trip to cinema for me is an attempt to to feel the high I felt when I was 12 years old, leaving the cinema, having seen Jurassic Park for the first time. Having raised the bar so high with the first film it was inevitable that the sequel could never live up. However, several years after their initial release I have re-watched The Lost World far more times than the original. Any conversation about Spielberg inevitably turns to the Spielberg moment. The Lost World is littered in such moments. Of all the Spielberg moments I have realised that my favourite is Raptors stalking in the tall grass. Although not everyone would agree, I think it would be hard to argue that sequence isn't amongst the top 5 Spielberg moments.

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    Comment number 32.

    Hook. However i wouldn't call it a guilty pleasure, as that would suggest i think there's something wrong with it.

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    Comment number 33.

    I am not a big fan of his work (although maybe I also have to come back to his films). I always enjoyed watching "Catch Me if You Can". I think it's the story that I find most interesting and DiCaprio's performance. Recommended, if you're looking for a good time.

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    Comment number 34.

    If we are truly talking about our "Spielberg Guilty Pleasures", I really must take this opportunity to defend Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, that film has been given a lot of hate that it fankly doesn't deserve. I saw it with four friends of mine and we all thoroughly enjoyed it and isn't that what cinema's all about.

    It's not a masterpiece like The Last Crusade I'll confess, but it's perfectly fine popcorn entertainment and I am so sick of everyone saying they hate it because "You can't survive a nuclear blast" or "Aliens don't belong in Indiana Jones". IT'S INDIANA JONES FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!

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    Comment number 35.

    Hook is one of my all time favourite childhood movies, and even one of my best memories from Chidhood. I still remember finding it by accident on TV and being captivated from start to finish. I remember that it was Hook, more than any other adaptation of Peter Pan, that made me want to never grow up and to live in Netherland. Even thought it might not be the most dramatically satisfying of movies, it's value is it's pure escapism, a facet of films that critics often seem to discard, and one that is even more important for children, the audience for which the movie was made.

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    Comment number 36.

    Growing up and even now I still feel "The Temple Of Doom" is the most entertaining installment of the "Indiana Jones" saga. It captures the essence of the matinee movies it was inspired by more effectively than any of its counterparts. A non stop B(borderline C)movie roller coaster (quite literally in one scene), it carries even less plot and character development than the other films,and its all the better for it! A completely lean and efficient example of the action film genre, complete with endlessly screaming damsel in distress. Ironically its Spielberg and Lucas least favourite of the original trilogy.

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    Comment number 37.

    Personally, I feel that War of the Worlds is Spielberg’s most underappreciated film, certainly it is by no means perfect, but the scenes that lead up to revealing of the machines are full of tension, and the thunderstorm that precedes it is generally quite frightening. Whilst it is true that some of the tension is gone when the machines are revealed it is not gone entirely. The scene in Tim Robbins’ basement (you know which one I’m talking about) reminded me greatly of the scene in the kitchen in Jurassic Park (again, you know which one I am talking about). Both of these scenes still have me squirming in my seat. I like War of the Worlds and have enjoyed it on each repeated viewing.

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    Comment number 38.

    By no means my favourite but one that I think stands as one of his finest works is Minority Report. Which is easily the most cerebral film of his career. Dismissed at the time as being simple popcorn fun but Minority Report has something to say about surveillance culture, the bleak futures of policed states and free will more than any other Dick adaptation ever achieved and more than any other science fiction film around that period (including the Matrix).

    Like the Dick text, it is dark and unforgiving too, in this regard it is unlike most Spielberg films; it lacks a strong whack of whoosy sentimentality and instead errs on the side of surrealistic, future gothic. For example who can forget the scene in which a blindfolded Tom Cruise stumbles around an apartment, eats a mouldy sandwich and drinks off milk after having his eyes removed by Peter Stormare. That is a keeper.

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    Comment number 39.

    "The Terminal" and "Catch Me If You Can" are two WAY overlooked Spielberg films. Both are engaging and tell great stories, plus the whole airport in The Terminal is a giant set, which when you look at it REALLY has to be admired, and what's even more amazing is that these are movies that Spielberg makes in spare time in between blockbusters.

    When Spielberg and Tom Hanks come together, it's a beautiful thing.

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    Comment number 40.

    I think it was an incredible shame that more people didn't get excited about The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, because it's just about the best Spielbergian "popcorn movie" he's made since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - sure, Peter Jackson's mocap technology is impressive, but it's made all the more stunning by cinematography that's gorgeous even by Spielberg standards; I submit to you, Dr K, that the single shot motorbike chase through the Moroccan streets is one of the most visually and technically impressive shots of his career.

    Throw in a typically brilliant John Williams score and memorable performances from Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and particularly Daniel Craig, and you've got one hell of a good summer blockbuster.

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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