A.I. Artificial Intelligence movie review (2001) | Roger Ebert

In the final act, events take David and Teddy in a submersible to the drowned Coney Island, where they find not only Geppetto's workshop but a Blue Fairy. A collapsing Ferris wheel pins the submarine, and there they remain, trapped and immobile, for 2,000 years, as above them an ice age descends and humans become extinct. David is finally rescued by a group of impossibly slender beings that might be aliens, but are apparently very advanced androids. For them, David is an incalculable treasure: "He is the last who knew humans." From his mind they download all of his memories, and they move him into an exact replica of his childhood home. This reminded me of the bedroom beyond Jupiter constructed for Dave by aliens in Kubrick's "2001." It has the same purpose, to provide a familiar environment in an incomprehensible world. It allows these beings, like the unseen beings in "2001," to observe and learn from behavior.

Watching the film again, I asked myself why I wrote that the final scenes are "problematical," go over the top, and raise questions they aren't prepared to answer. This time they worked for me, and had a greater impact. I began with the assumption that the skeletal silver figures are indeed androids, of a much advanced generation from David's. They too must be programmed to know, love, and serve Man. Let's assume such instructions would be embedded in their programming DNA. They now find themselves in a position analogous to David in his search for his Mommy. They are missing an element crucial to their function.

After some pseudoscientific legerdemain involving a lock of Monica's hair, they are able to bring her back after 2,000 years of death--but only for 24 hours, which is all the space-time continuum permits. Do they do this to make David happy? No, because would they care? And is a computer happier when it performs its program than when it does not? No. It is either functioning or not functioning. It doesn't know how it feels.

Here is how I now read the film: These new generation mechas are advanced enough to perceive that they cannot function with humans in the absence of humans, and I didn't properly reflect this in my original review of the film. David is their only link to the human past. Whatever can be known about them, he is an invaluable source. In watching his 24 hours with Mommy, they observe him functioning at the top of his ability.

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A.I. Artificial Intelligence movie review (2001) | Roger Ebert

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