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July 2001

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In this issue:    Ash gets Artificially Intelligated!   God hates Evolution!    Sequels Worth Seeing!   PLUS:    the Passions of Batturtle,    Hamilton goes Straight to Hell,    and Craig Kilborn Must Die!

To many, this collaboration between perpetual film-school course subject Stanley Kubrik and summer blockbuster kingpin Steven Speilberg has been the most anticipated release of the season. The fact that it remained so anticipated when there's a movie about killer monkeys eating Mark Whalberg on the horizon is somewhat baffling to me, but I understand being excited about a new Kubrick project. After all, without some of his finer films, like Dr Strangelove, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket, many of us would have a cumulative 138 hours of our lives back to waste with such trivialities as conversation, athletics, and Mystery Science Theatre marathons. But despite the immense length of his films, Kubrick's work is always worth seeing, and although he didn't get a chance to direct this movie, having bored himself to death while editing Eyes Wide Shut, his mark has been left upon the film, in that it manages to compress at least three different movies into one, compact, 17 hour package. It's long been Kubrick's thesis that the third act of a movie or screenplay not only be more explosive and climactic that the first two acts, but be from an entirely separate film, like when 2001: A Space Odyssey finishes up with the HAL business and spends 45 minutes showing that guy's eye in different shades of lava-lamp colours, and AI is no different. But more important than the film itself was the set of previews that preceded it, includeding the aforementioned Planet Of The Apes remake, which caused me to abruptly interrupt the suave and sophisticated conversation I was having with a lovely female companion by hoarsely yelling the word "monkey!" and tearing off down the aisles to get a better view of the screen. Sadly enough, I assure you I'm not kidding. But the point of this review is not to harp upon my lack of social skills. We're here to talk about A.I. The story is sort of a futuristic robo-fairy tale, which is a fascinating concept, provided you're gay. Actually, it is a really cool idea, and coupled with Speilberg's sense of special effects and grand vision, it comes off really well. Our protagonist is David, a robotic child built by Dr. Robinson from the Lost In Space movie and played by that uppity little brat from The Sixth Sense who thinks he's so hot just because he knows what it means when people call him precocious. Adopted by a test family to replace their comatose real child, David soon becomes attached to his surrogate family, and the family accepts him as one of their own. However, things take a turn for the worse once the family's real kid wakes up and returns home. Possibly due to the father's resemblance to irritatingly lanky comedian Lewis Stiles from The Drew Carey Show, David begins showing signs of hostility, and the family becomes fed up with his perpetual attempts to kill them and dumps him in the woods with his creepily somber robo-teddy bear, who continually utters gruff, grimly Zen-like bits of advice. It is here that the adventure really begins, with David embarking upon a quest to find Pinocchio's Blue Fairy so he may be turned into a real boy. Accompanied by the increasingly bitter and emotionally reclusive Teddy and robo-man-whore Gigolo Joe, David travels far and wide in his search, going from a bizarre 'Flesh Fair' where robots are destroyed while Ministry prances around on stage to Rouge City, a sort of Blade Runner-esque red-light district for synthetics. Finally, after a little help from Robin Williams and Chris Rock (seriously), David reaches the end of his quest in the submerged set of Waterworld, where it is revealed that the Blue Fairy was none other than Kevin Costner, who had been cryogenically frozen by scientists too humane to kill him, but too socially conscious to allow him to continue making films. It is here that the movie should have ended, but true to Kubrick's form, it continues on for a good three more hours, abandoning the wistful Wizard of Oz-ian fairy tale feel of the first portion and taking on a more hard-line approach to the question of where artificial intelligence ends and true humanity begins, as Teddy, fed up with the marginalization of robo-teddy-bots, goes on a murderous rampage, eviscerating dozens of school-age children and wearing their intestines as his best Sunday finery. While this is not strictly true, it's just as random and capricious as the real ending, which involves two millennia, a global ice-age, and these weird aliens who fly around in a Borg cube and talk like gravely, British James Woodses. I personally like my ending, with Teddy scampering around, viciously wielding a scalpel like a furry Chucky doll, much more entertaining that the interminably long British alien one, which was a touch treacly, leaving the unpleasant taste of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind in my mouth as I left the theatre. However, by the time I finally did exit the cineplex, two thousand years had passed, humanity had become extinct, and the Earth was over-run by hyper-intelligent monkeys, so I really didn't have much to complain about.

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