One of the most eagerly anticipated motion pictures of the year turns out to be a dazzling, infuriating epic whose more fitting title would be "2001: A Sentimental Oddity." A bizarre meeting of minds between Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg, it will probably please neither lovers of the late film maker's cerebral work, or fans of the incorrigible populist's crowd-pleasing blockbusters. But while "A.I." makes virtually no sense, loses its way more than once, and is far too long, it's still a genuine original that boasts more imagination and verve than any of this summer's other big releases.
Though set years in the future, "A.I." begins relatively conventionally by having a married couple (Frances O'Connor and Sam Robards) adopt a robot child to replace the son who languishes in a coma. The problems start when the son awakes from his slumber, forcing his parents to abandon their synthetic offspring in the forest. From here the film broadens its scope to include an android gigolo (Jude Law) who assists David (Haley Joel Osment) on his quest to become a real boy.
Freely lifting elements from "Pinocchio", "Frankenstein", and "The Wizard of Oz", the visual feast that follows whisks the audience from cyborg-trashing flesh fairs to a flooded Manhattan and beyond. To say more would rob the audience of the many surprises in store, with Spielberg taking risks in a way only a director with his own studio would dare. Shame about the intrusive John Williams score and misjudged Robin Williams cameo.