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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 61.

    I watched Catch me if you Can when I was younger and hated it. I found it boring, long and not thrilling like the trailer indicated. I watched it a few years later and now is one of my favourite Spielberg films!!! The jazzy John Williams score, the astonishing cinematography, the costumes, the relationship between Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio is just perfect, and a fantastic the supporting role from the great Christopher Walken always reminds me of my father. As a son of divorced parents I can relate to this film on an extremely high level and now rate this along with War of the Worlds, ET, Jaws and Close Encounters.

    Steven Spielberg is an inspiration to myself and all fellow other filmmakers and his films will always be sensitive, melodramatic and sentimental.... But thats exactly why we love him!!!

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    Comment number 62.

    My Spielberg guilty pleasure? 'Hook'. Despite all of its flaws (saccharine children, the American accents, Julia Roberts) it's still hugely charming, capturing the exuberant, swashbuckling fairy tale atmosphere of 'Peter Pan' better than any other film adaptation.

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    Comment number 63.

    At the risk of repeating myself (from comments I made on your Facebook page), I'm going to repeat myself.

    Firstly - 'Duel' is 'Jaws' and 'Jaws' is best. Neither film's a guilty pleasure; quite the opposite but both are - to my mind - his best films. They're tight, original and suspensful.

    Second - Someone mentioned 'Jurrasic Park II: The Lost World' as their guilty pleasure. Sorry, I'm compelled to respond. That film had "botched merciless cash grab" written all over it. Studio executives clearly took all of 3 minutes to invent a way back to Disney-Dino-ville of Marketing Toy-manufacture Hell-World:

    "Thank god for site B!"

    Please. It's a definite Spielberg miss and a lesson in the futile pursuit of recapturing lightning in bottles or DNA in amber.

    Lastly - 'Hook' is Spielberg's worst film. It's guilty and definitely not pleasureable.

    Cheers!

    Dave from Scotland-Town

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    Comment number 64.

    Munich would be high on my list. It showcases Spielberg's ability to make a 'personal epic' superbly. The sweep of the story is huge, including a pitch-perfect recreation of the Olympic hostage crisis and its globe-trotting aftermath. But it never loses sight of the fact that the story is essentially about the conscience of one man. Similar things could be said about Empire of the Sun and Amistad. Would I, however, be the only one to go with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as a true guilty pleasure? Granted, the aliens are rubbish and the less said about the fridge, the better. However, it does portray 'Indy' as a true iconic figure and does pose the question, 'What happens when such a person grows old?' Besides, it features Cate Blanchett, Ray Winston and John Hurt as a nutcase: what's not to love about that little lot?

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    Comment number 65.

    Spielberg's CV is littered with neglected gems, The Terminal is a lovely unassuming film and in purely visual terms Empire of the Sun is the best film he ever did. Amistad, as it were coming off the heels of Schindler's List (his masterpiece) suffered by comparison, but this was Spielberg aiming for Peoples minds rather than their emotions. As a kid i used to watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom all the time and in the wake of 'Crystal Skull' isn't it about time we gave that film its full due.

    As for A.I, Frances O'Connor is excellent as the conflicted mother but film the goes on a bit too long. The ending, where the aliens bring his mother back to life, is presented as something joyous and yet there is a sinister undertone to the whole thing, so it's hardly surprising that so many of us were wrong footed by the film.

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    Comment number 66.

    I know it's worthy of being shot down in flames and maybe it was just where I was in my life when I saw it but I do like 'Always" with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and John Goodman

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    Comment number 67.

    Good grief! 65 comments in and only a couple of people have spoken up for Munich. I can't think of a more unfairly maligned film in recent memory. The performances are wonderful - particularly Eric Bana and Geoffrey Rush, but what makes Munich special among Spielberg films is just how coldly it deals with its subject matter. The ending ("Break bread with me Ephraim." "No.") must be the coldest, most unsentimental ending in all his films. It's a great, sad, alienating film.

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    Comment number 68.

    Respectfully I couldn't disagree more. Ultimately I hated it for making me love the first hour.

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    Comment number 69.

    Can't think of one that fits that particular scenario. However, I can think of an instance of the reverse - a film of Spielberg's I absolutely loved initially, but grew cold over on subsequent viewings. And that's: 'Saving Private Ryan'.

    I think, at first, I was caught up in its raw, visceral power, which one must still credit. However, ultimately, when I looked at it closer, I felt it was tedious (glancing occasionally at my watch throughout and wondering what I was going to have for dinner).

    Interestingly, I originally shunned 'The Thin Red Line', but now consider that to be the quintessential modern WW2 masterpiece.

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    Comment number 70.

    For me, it's War of the worlds, one of my favorite stories ever. Although the ending of the film was incredibly rushed and poorly executed and that it has "Tom cruise" in it, I still watch it, because I love The war of the worlds and that this film still gives me goose bumps, with the overwhelming sense of dread the films theme gives across. I really like it.

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    Comment number 71.

    I would have to say The Lost World. The first time I saw it, all I noticed were the dinosaurs, but I was 9. Watching it again recently I really appreciated the technical skill that went into making it, as well as being a film that entertains, despite not living up to the extremely high standards of its predecessor.

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    Comment number 72.

    Im putting forward Hook! Off the back off Always, Hook is Spielberg, once again, just about to hit a string of hits this time in the 90s. Surely Hook, a film made by a man hitting middle age about a man in middle age who remembers that we all were kids who didnt want to grow up. more importantly it should remind us of what it is to see things as a child. its the same way I look at film. Excitement and belief.

    A.I. on the other hand was just boring...

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    Comment number 73.

    AI for me, sends me to mush every time I see it, one to watch alone! Special mention for Duel, one of the first films to turn me on to cinema and a great lesson to any aspiring film maker. A car,a truck and 91 minutes of greatness, someone show it to Mr Bay please.

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    Comment number 74.

    My guilty pleasure is definitely Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I know, its a feel-good movie which is, to some critics, riddled with too much schmaltz. Its just so good. Spielberg actually makes you want to believe, with Neary, that aliens have called him to that place and want him to go with them.
    For me, AI comes into the 'I'm not really sure about it' category. Its a good film but not his best. It has none of the utter heartache of films like ET, Schlinders List and Close Encounters. For me, there is too much of a need to emulate Kubrick, which is unnecessary. Kubrick was a superb director but he had none of the humanity that Spielberg and his films have in bucket-loads. In a Kubrick film, there is little empathy with the main character (consider Alex in Clockwork Orange), but in Spielberg's movies, even Minority Report, there is that empathy. You want Tom Cruise's policeman to win.

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    Comment number 75.

    I have to say that my guilty, and may I add very guilty, Spielbergian pleasure would have to be Minority Report. I feel that it incorporates everything that a good sic-fi action film should have; it's exciting, gripping, has a half-way decent plot and more importantly has a good sci-fi idea behind it. Tom Cruise isn't that annoying in it either.
    Yes it doesn't quite match up to Saving private Ryan, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, A.I or even War Horse for that matter, but it is the film which I have found myself watching and enjoying more often than most.
    I have a lot of love for Spielberg's work. I have grown up watching and loving his films and he has inspired some of today's best sci-fi films. I am talking mostly about the brilliant Super 8 which I still believe to be one of the best movies I have seen in the last few years.

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    Comment number 76.

    For me, my Spielberg Guilty Pleasure has to be The Lost World. Yes, it may not have the sophisticated charm of the first Jurassic Park, but bare with me, here is a movie that manages to be darker than the original, puts the most cynical character of the first film as the lead for the second one, pushes the PG rating to its limit with some enjoyably graphic dinosaur related horror, has a scene stealing performance from Pete Poslethwaite and its climax, involving the T-Rex running around San Diego is a massive guilty pleasure that combines wonderful in jokes, Godzilla references, over the top humour and quite possibly the most blatantly obvious and yet wonderful plot hole ever committed to film. Brilliant. I saw it when I was twelve years old on a massive screen and I adored it then. Re-watching in on Blu Ray last year made me realise that I love it still.

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    Comment number 77.

    Could you say to Spielberg that he is an awesome film-maker? I've followed his career since Close Encounters and he hasn't really put a foot wrong. He's one of the few directors that I can go into a cinema, watch his films and never really be short-changed.Each film seems to show a new side to him. Long may he continue in cinema and thrilling all of us who go and watch his films.

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    Comment number 78.

    How the heck is Close Encounters "riddled with too much schmaltz"? It's about the complete breakdown of a family unit with no satisfying arc. The only cheesy moment, you could argue, is when Melinda Dillon wipes away her tears and smiles at Richard Dreyfuss as he's about to board the ship. Apart from that, what schmaltz?? That's why I love the film - its darkness, which Spielberg has since said he could never do again. Why not, Steven? Why do you always play safe now? Has the wife cut them both off?

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    Comment number 79.

    And when the alien smiles at Truffaut....

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    Comment number 80.

    As a guilty pleasure it has to be Always, but then I have a soft spot for anything with Richard Dreyfuss in including Mr. Holland's Opus, another guilty pleasure.

 

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

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