The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2001
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 145 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 6.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor, Brendan Gleeson, William Hurt
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Music by: John Williams
Written by: Steve Spielberg based on a short story by Brian Aldiss
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 5, 2011
"David is 11 years old. He weighs 60 pounds. He is 4 feet, 6 inches tall. He has brown hair. His love is real. But he is not."
In a future world of runaway global warming and awe-inspiring scientific advances, humans share every aspect of their lives with sophisticated companion robots called Mechas. But when an advanced prototype robot child named David (Haley Joel Osment) is programmed to show unconditional love, his human family isn't prepared for the consequences. Suddenly, David is on his own in a strange and dangerous world. Befriended by a streetwise Mecha (Jude Law), David embarks on a spectacular quest to discover the startling secret of his own identity.
I bought A.I. Artificial Intelligence as a blind buy when it was first released on DVD. Not really knowing much about it I sat down to watch it with my family. I will never forget my son’s reaction to the sequence where Monica takes David and Teddy “for a ride”. He simply got up and left the room. When asked where he was going he said “I don’t want to watch this anymore!” The film raises questions of morality via a disturbing narrative that examines humanity when faced with its counterpoint as seen through the eyes of a lifelike artificial being seeking to find an answer to a very humane question. I haven’t watched it in years and realized after this revisit why. A.I. makes for interesting coffee table discussion regarding the philosophical whys and wherefores regarding the events in the opening act. Beyond that it takes a darkly tragic and sad turn that can be unsettling to watch as the main character of David (Haley Joel Osment) searches for answers to define the purpose that drives him. In the final act the story comes full circle in a rather bizarre but ultimately warm and fuzzy twist that soothes the emotive burning of the irony established by earlier events. I have a little trouble with the unsympathetic nature of the plot but fully appreciate the narrative’s thought provoking conjecture. Haley Joel Osment is marvelous in the lead while Frances O’Connor and Jude Law give strong performances in support. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski sets the stage as Steven Spielberg conducts from the podium using typically broad strokes. The result is a rewarding and intriguingly dark film that succeeds more for the total sum of its parts than for the cohesiveness of its story.
The rating is for some sexual content and violent images.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
A.I Artificial Intelligence comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 6.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
Let me start off by saying that in my opinion this presentation appears to faithfully reflect the film’s original elements and director Steven Spielberg’s vision. Having said that it is important to understand that the way the film was shot does not necessarily reproduce the highly polished, three dimensional, and clearly resolute imagery that typically evokes the wow factor. That shouldn’t be strictly construed to indicate that it doesn’t look good in high definition. Read on.
Like many of Steven Spielberg’s films A.I was shot utilizing a visual style that gives it a distinctive look that uses lighting, film stock, and filtered chromatic schemes. Filtering is applied which gives many brightly lit or sun drenched sequences a hazy glow which can make them appear soft. Colors, especially early in the film are primarily limited to various stages of gray, sepia tones, and blues. Later in the story there is use of more inviting colors such as those seen in bright lights of the city or the “flesh fair”. When not affected by the aforementioned filtering fleshtones have a warm and lifelike complexional quality. Images are firmly resolved but perceivable resolution can be scene dependent due to the nature of the photography. Close ups fare better than wide angle shots and offer respectable detail and appreciable refinement. The video has a notably grainy aesthetic that can interfere with depth but also lends the presentation an enriching filmic texture. Contrast is boldly applied for a purposefully dynamic aesthetic during bright sequences but achieves excellent balance with black levels during low level sequences so that detail/gradations are visible which imparts a rich, delineated quality that makes them pop. I think that A.I makes for an unconventional yet beautifully crafted viewing experience that is faithful reflected in this high definition Blu-ray presentation from Paramount.
The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack has excellent dynamic range, detail rich clarity and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. John Williams’ music score, coupled along with well integrated discrete and ambient sound effects, plays an intricate role in this sometimes active surround mix. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich bass and dynamic impact associated with the action based sequences. Dialogue is firmly planted in the center channel and clearly renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction and balance within the front soundstage. I enjoyed this audio presentation but there was little about it that left an impression on me.
- Creating A.I. – 12 minute featurette
- Acting A.I.: Portraits of David and Gigolo Joe (15 minutes)
- Designing A.I. – Storyboards/costumes featurette (13 minutes)
- Lighting A.I – 4 minute featurette
- A.I. FX – 7 minute featurette
- The robots of A.I. – 13 minute featurette
- Special visual effects and animation: ILM – 4 segments with an overview option
- The sound and music of A.I. – 12 minute featurette
- Closing: Steven Spielberg – Our responsibility to artificial intelligence (2 minutes)
- Theatrical trailers (2)
- A.I. Archives – A collection of storyboards, concept art and gallery photos
A.I. Artificial Intelligence is a rewarding and intriguingly dark film that succeeds more for the total sum of its parts than for the cohesiveness of its story. Certainly not a film for everyone, I find its warm hearted albeit misguided optimism, thought provoking message and well placed cast to be gratifying. It makes its high definition debut from Paramount Home Entertainment in a solid Blu-ray Disc offering that features excellent audio/video quality along with a worthwhile assortment of bonus supplements. A.I. Artificial Intelligence is recommended viewing. If you’re a fan this release is a must have otherwise toss it in your rental queue and take it for a spin.
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