Derided on its release for its inability to fit into Stanley Kubrick’s chilly, cerebral template, or cosily within Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster sentimentality, this stunning sci-fi fairytale is due for radical reappraisal.
Forget the auteur-wars, and the film swims into focus as a considerable artistic accomplishment in its own right – a daring, moving look at what it means to be human, even when you’re not.
It’s the story of adorable robot-child David and his hi-tech Pinocchio journey from suburban awakening and abandonment to flesh-fair nightmare and beyond. Along the way, Spielberg examines every facet of our relationship with machines in original and affecting ways.
Full of surprising ambiguities about family love, it also takes the I-want-mommy themes of E.T. and Empire Of The Sun in provocative directions that melt the Kubrickian frostiness off the original concept. Even that ice-age head-scratcher of a finale now looks like an intriguing act of directorial daring rather than a mystifying misfire.
None of which would be possible without the eerily outstanding performance of Haley Joel Osment, subtly moving David from plasticised perfection to heartbreaking sentience.
A corking transfer gives Janusz Kaminski’s dazzling visuals full rein here, making Rouge City’s neon sizzle and the flesh-fair’s whirring horrors leap from the screen. The sound mix is pin-sharp, too.
Burrowing in to the extras you’ll find they’ve been ported from previous releases, but are as classy and comprehensive as the feature demands.
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