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  1. Inspired by the rubbish-list thread i just had an idea: instead of the pointless parading of BEST-OF titles (Spielberg movies, in this case), it could be much more constructive if we list the titles we find not up-to-par and gather suggestions how to improve on them. Ground rule: the movie must be deconstructed in acts and requested changes must be classified in the respective acts. My favourite in this regard will always be the misbegotten A. I., a movie that feels like a stutterer trying to read eloquently from PINOCCHIO with books by Asimov and autographed collected works of Stanley Kubrick hovering ominously in the background. The acts are easily identified: ACT 1 consists of a short prologue, talky and staged not very convincingly, where William Hurt explains the origins and nature of the robots/mecha to a bunch of students. After that, we are exposed to an even more drawn-out series of scenes showing us the family life of a really boring, basically trait-less couple of future WASP's living in brightly lit quarters. They adopt a robot child filling in for their comatose son, slowly developing affection for him despite of his/its mechanical nature - he is programmed to love his parents without conditions. Problems arise when the real son suddenly awakes from his coma et voilá, drama begins. The real son starts to play cunning and scheming with the hapless robot boy, leading to a series of disturbing misunderstandings. Finally, the mother decides to chuck the robot boy out and abandons him in the woods one afternoon. End Act 1. ACT 2 starts the journey of the robot boy, desperate for love and answers (it gets all PINOCCHIO from here), and introduces us to another mecha/robot, this time in form of a mechanic gigolo who is wrongly framed for murder. Both meet and subsequently journey together. Their first encounter with humans is not altogether friendly with a them taken prisoners by a junkyard lord who stages cruel shows for backwoods people applauding the violent deaths of thousands of robots in an arena-like circus. Both can escape and travel to a big Las-Vegas-like city where the gigolo robot promises answers by an all-knowing Dr. Wikipedia, who leads them to a sunken Manhattan where robot boy meets his creator, William Hurt (who lured him there with rigging Dr. Wiki) and, having not acquired satisfying answers, subsequently lets himself fall into the cruel sea, where he finds the Blue Fairy (actually a sunken Coney Island attraction) who holds the premise to reunite him with his mother. End of Act 2. Normally, this would be two acts, but due to Spielberg's weird plotting we are subjected to another act. Act 3 (and 4) deal with robot boy being collected from his underwater grave by a strange alien race, presumably sometime in the future. They probe him and grant him his greatest wish, to be reunited with a hologram vision of his mother, set to a sickening voice-over and angelic lighting of a coffee-ad.End of movie. For films like A. I. there is always an appreciative audience sucking up to its blurriness and lack of focus, almost thankful they can play an active role in finding what the artist really meant. I'm not sure Spielberg has found much more than another PINOCCHIO fable in this - all the window dressing which can be read as philosophical discourse about the human condition and responsibility almost never finds an adequate filmic solution in the movie, it's either crude (the Flesh Fairy, which borders on junk tv) or so ambigious you don't believe it's ambigious at all (the epilogue, which is shot and scored in such a square way that it's hard to imagine Spielberg didn't mean it) . So if you do it old-school, just tell a story, there are some easy suggestions how to fix its bumbling narrative. Improvements on Act 1 seem simple. 1. The shot of the water has a nice ambiguity, life sprang from water, ok, keep it. 2. Scrap William Hurt, it feels pedantic and overly didactic 3. start the movie on a more dramatic note, like the mother driving though a rainy night to the place where the son lies, introduce how she cannot let him go and suffers from mental instabilities, keep the father out of it, so that you can have a conflict between both later on - and make the antiseptic clinic somewhat more creepy (imagine dozens of cryo sarcophargs with weeping parents..or better not) 4. make the mother a sympathetic person; i don't know what sprung on Spielberg but that thing he directed seems to have wandered over from an episode of WALKING DEAD. Problem is, you don't feel how anyone could develop deep affection for her, so that harms further developments. 5. try to establish a location less Beverly-Hills-posh and boring than the Shangri-La which serves as their home; it looks like it's furnished by aliens, again, it's crucial by this point to make us care. 6. make the robot less creepy; i know what they tried for - the unease at the first encounter with this man/machine - but you would think by this stage the development of technology would have come far enough to prevent the robots from behaving like psychos. 7. make the scene in the woods more dramatic - i cannot believe that i'm saying this about a Spielberg film, but it actually feels not dramatic enough. More later....
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