The Movie A.I. -- Spoilers enclosed

I’m hoping that someone can help me settle a friendly argument regarding the movie, A.I. It seems that there is a question about the creatures at the end of the movie that remove David from the ice. Are these things Aliens, robots or robot Aliens?

Any assistance in solving this puzzle would be most appreciated.

If we told you, it would constitute a “spoiler”. All threads containing movie spoilers are supposed to be labeled as such in the thread title, so folks who really don’t want to know don’t have the movie spoiled for them.

I believe there are several threads on this movie already going, over in MPSIMS and IMHO. See the Forum Jump at the bottom of the page here.

And anyway, General Questions threads are supposed to be for questions to which there is a definite answer, and both Kubrick in his screenplay and Spielberg in his directing I believe deliberately left it obscure. What do YOU think? And don’t tell us here, go over to MPSIMS. :slight_smile:

Yeah, geez, put a spoiler in there. I was looking forward to seeing the movie. Notice the strong emphasis on was. I don’t mean to be a dick, but there’s little difference in asking a question like this, and saying to a friend who hasn’t seen it “You’ll love it at the end when they…”



Well now that this guy has been thoroughly trashed, I’ll actually dare to answer the OP.

According to interviews I have read with Brian Aldiss, who worked on the original scripts in a very tenuous on-and-off relationship with Kubrick involving threats of lawsuits, apologies, etc. the creatures at the end are supposed to be robots.

[Just FYI, Haley Osment’s character was originally going to either be an animatronic figure or a CGI character, but both were too expensive and the technology was just too primitive to make either effective.]

I agree that it has been left ambiguous in the film. The only clue IMO that they’re robots is the fact that their heads are basicly TVs and I somehow doubt that could be an evolutionary function.

The really confusing aspect of it is that they look like the aliens in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind except they’re not all glowing white.


There was an article in today’s Chicago Sun Times newspaper that interviewed Kathleen ??? (one of the Directors I believe) and this was the first, and most common, question she sees.

The creatures at the end of the movie are the next generation of Mechas. They feel because of Spielberg’s movies Close Encounters and E.T. that he has some alien baggage following him around and as a resault people are perhaps quicker to jump to the conclusion that they are aliens.

I got no sense from the article that this was supposed to be a mystery in the movie. Perhaps Kubrick and/or his original screenplay had it different (I couldn’t say) but the correct answer is most assuredly Robots and not aliens as far as the movie goes.

(do mods ever change thread titles on their own (i.e. add spoilers!) or does it have to come from the topic starter? Maybe when this gets shunted off to IMHO or MPSIMS?)
I liked the ambiguity of what the creatures were at the end. The movie didn’t spoon feed every last bit of detail to us, making our mind do a bit of work to see various connections. (Yes, there was a lot of direct ‘you should feel this way’ scenes, but still…)

One question (I can’t find a thread in IMHO or MPSIMS) for the movie is about the junk pile that was dumped in the woods. A few people I’ve talked with thought it was an unrealistic scene, midnight dumping of used parts or some such contrivance. Or, was the pile dumped there by the Flesh Fair Folks as bait to get Meccs to come out of hiding?

Why was the robot factory located in Manhattan? The city seemed a bit abandoned, enough so to make shipping, etc. a logistical nightmare.

Where did all the other robots go? If Jr.'s batteries lasted 200 plus years, why didn’t Joe’s?

If you were designing a SuperToy, why wouldn’t you think to sew up the end of the esophagus so spinach doesn’t muck up the works?

Not a movie topic per se, but we arrived just as the movie was starting- what previews did they show?

Still have more questions, but that is enough for now. Loved the movie- sure, some standard Spielbergian glurge but lots and lots and lots to think about. Thumbs up.


I’m kinda rushed right now, so I or someone else later will make the call on the forum choice. But I didn’t want to spoil the movie for anyone, so I made that change.

Oh, Homer, you should go and see it anyway–it was excellent. No matter how many spoilers you accumulate, I don’t think it can spoil the movie experience itself, which was just tremendous. It’s a well-enough constructed movie that I think you could actually read the entire script beforehand and still enjoy watching the movie. Two masters at work, Kubrick and Spielberg.

I think it’s going to turn out to be the Movie of the Decade, not maybe in terms of box office, but in terms of “the movie people can’t stop talking about”. You don’t wanna be the only one around the office cooler who hasn’t seen it, do ya? :smiley:

And, don’t watch it for the science fiction, because the straight sci-fi aspect of it is kinda shaky (Steve and Stan, you know I love you guys, but there it is). Go in expecting to see a fable, an allegory, a fairy tale, and you won’t be disappointed.

Rhythm, I’m sure the trailers differ from chain to chain, but where I saw it, we got Planet of the Apes, Final Fantasy, Harry Potter, and I think some fourth (maybe more) trailer which eludes me at the moment.

I didn`t go into the movie expecting anything, and I was disappointed. I thought the movie was good up until it got to the point where David was caught in the ice, staring at the Blue Fairy. Then it just D…R…A…G…E…D. Full of fluffy “I love my mommy, I want to see her again” scenes that didn’t really get anywhere. Sure, David has his “perfect moment”, but it’s still so cheesy! And WHO is Teddy talking to, anyways? I think the rest of the movies was intelligent, and brought up a bunch of interesting ideas and concepts regarding A.I., but I don’t like the way the movie ended.

And the creatures at the end were robots - they make some comment about the humans dieing out and they were all that were left. And the comment about David being an “original mecha” and having known “real humans” kinda supported that fact, too. Physically, they did resemble aliens, but the details weren’t biological.

And my guess is that there were quite possibly other frozen mecha as well, just not discovered. Though how they SPECIFICALLY found David is beyond me. Or perhaps its simply that David was the one TRUE A.I., since he thought for himself and desired, etc, etc, and all the other mecha they had found weren’t like that. Probably having to deal with a bunch of sex-dolls trying to screw the nannies…

The previews I saw was Lord of the Rings, Final Fantasy, Harry Potter, and America’s Sweethearts

I saw a preview for The Time Machine, which is the first I’ve heard of the movie. Plus some of the others mentioned here.

Personally I think the movie is too much of a fairy tale to ask all the technical questions (though it’s still a lot better than some sci-fi).

Either here or somewhere else, someone’s mentioned that the first scene with David (where he comes slowly into focus) foreshadows the super-mechas at the end. Probably if I saw it again it would be clearer about what they are; the shift in pace once you got to that part was a bit confusing, and I think if you listen to the Ben Kingsley robot (credited as “The Specialist”) when he’s talking to David, then it might explain it.

As for why they might be looking for David specifically, it’s probably because they passed down the legend through whichever generation they are. Brutus was doubtless aware that Martin was searching for David, and maybe he somehow passed it on to one of the new mechas to continue the search. Though I’m afraid Brutus might be killed anyway, and the Chariot’s just using him to gain power.

If those last two sentences made no sense to you, then be very very grateful. You probably have time to do things.

Well, they were robots. This is logical because of what Joe says mid-way through the film. (paraphrasing) “Humans made us too smart and in too high of numbers. That is why they hate us. They know that someday they will be gone and…only we will remain.” Indeed, he was right.

Also, the robots at the end looked at David when he was frozen and said, “This is one of the originals. He must have known actual living people.”

I think that pretty much solves it. There is a lot that is ambiguous in this film, but I don’t think that was supposed to be. The robots were supposed to make us think, “Whoa! It actually happened! They replaced us! What a mind-frell!!”



At the risk of being unpopular, I must admit that I did not like this movie. I think the moment the mom drove off, the movie stopped being good. I think it REALLY jumped the tracks after that. What was the point of:

  • Why not just use the magnets that were used on Joe at the end to gather everyone up for the Flesh Fair? Why dog-faced bikes with glowing teeth and neon lights all over them?? And why didn’t they try and escape? I thought they all had “DAS” or something.
  • Why/when did David get that bear back from the little girl?
  • Rouge City?? I was looking around for Daryl Hannah and Edward James Olmos.
  • Already mentioned here: how much money was being wasted by having their HQ at the edge of the world, totally submerged?
    As for a major nitpick, wouldn’t those police amphicopter things have a GPS system in place? Could William Hurt really not find him trapped inside that fully functional police thingy under water? Didn’t the Police want to even TRY and recover their stolen vehicle? Heck, Acme Rent-A-Car can fine me for speeding in their rented Buick, for chrissakes.


Personally, I loved it. I saw it last Saturday, and will be seeing it again tomorrow. I’ve already called my dad to offer to take him and his wife to see this movie.

I agree that it is not intended as an example of “hard” science fiction, and that the movie should have been seen as an allegory or fairy tale.

Those are definitely robots at the end. I’m not even sure why there’s a debate, although I’ll admit that their appearance is reminescent of the ETs in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” I’ll bet that Spielberg thought that confusion could result, and probably planned on it as a little “gotcha” for the audience.

The last fifteen or twenty minutes or so reminded me very strongly of the end of 2001. I had no problem with how the movie played out during the third act…if anything, I thought it was more interesting than the first act.

Mostly I saw it as a story about a character who was seeking to change a fundamental aspect of his own existence in order to find acceptance. For personal reasons, I could relate to that premise.

Even though David is still a robot at the end of the story, he still achieved his goal of finding what he was looking for.

As for the questions earlier in this thread:

Dooku: Considering the hostility that many elements in that movie’s society had towards mechas, I’d have the HQ in a nice, isolated place. In fact, the flying vehicle’s heads-up display announced that they were entering a zone apparently intended only for mechas.

mnemosyne & panamajack: I don’t think the future robots were looking for David specifically. The shots of the ice-entombed New York seemed to suggest that excavations were going on in many locations. For a real world example, I suspect that when paleontologists go hunting for dinosaur bones, they are looking for anything, rather than just a specific dinosaur. (For some reason, I’m reminded of the monologue Bill Pullman had about finding things in the movie Zero Effect :slight_smile: )

Rhythmdvl: Your idea about “bait” makes a great deal of sense. I’ll bet that’s what was really going on there, especially since those folks in the moon ballon weren’t far behind.

I thought they were aliens when I first saw the movie, but only because the idea of them being mechas never crossed my mind. It was only after reading other people’s opinions of the movie on AICN that I realized they were mechas. However, the entire ending had that Kubrick “What the Heck?” vibe going unitl the mechas spoke.

As far as trailers, my showing had Jurassic Park III instead of Final Fantasy.

This bothered me a bit, too. Especially since the apparent lack of a fail-safe was never explained in the movie. Or maybe it was, and I didn’t hear, which is a definite possibility with me.

Then I remembered the amount of spinach David was cramming into his mouth. That looked like quite a bit, and he was shoveling it in pretty rapidly. That could have been enough to allow some of it to get past whatever fail safe there might have been.

After all, I’m sure I’m not the only person on the SDMB who has had the unpleasant experience of a bit of food or drink “going down the wrong pipe.”

Just a thought.

P.S. I love spinach, and eat it at least twice a week.


I concur with all those previously who said not to look to hard at the technical details. It would be like complaining about the lack of adult supervision in Never-Never Land. It’s just a STORY, guys.

The aspect of the film which hit me so strongly was the idea of such a tortured being… a creature designed to love, but to love only ONE thing and incapable of loving anything else. Of course, since it was DESIGNED to love, the love of that thing was its only goal… and it took 2000 years to reach that goal. I was especially struck by the ending when I realized it was the first time Monica said “I Love You” to David. She hinted at it, she made affectionate efforts, etc. but she never actually said that.

The piece of dialogue outside of Dr. No between David and Gigolo Joe (“My mommy will say I Love You 1000 times a day!”) was pure brilliance, IMO. It showed the utter desperation and torture which David was going through.

The other thing which struck me about the film is that David is designed to make robots ‘fully human’ which is actually ridiculous as the robots already are… the humans just don’t realize it. Gigolo Joe along with the other robots already have the ability to show compassion, caring, love, etc… They are simply a bit reserved having not been shown how to fully express themselves. If Gigolo Joe were merely showin retribution to David for saving him, why go out of his way and get into more and more trouble to help him? No, the truth was that Joe had a love for David and Joe’s human masters were too blind to see that love.

The beginning of the film is very telling about that. The shot of the robot adjusting her make-up while the humans have a meeting about creating David could be interpreted to show that she was an unintelligent machine… until you start meeting Mechas like Joe. Then you realize that all Mechas can think for themselves and you then gain the understanding that the pleasure Mecha at the beginning wasn’t misunderstanding, but deliberately IGNORING the conversation!

The most ‘human’ character in the film was the robot nanny. In her, I saw a definite christ parallel which, considering Kubrick, is very probably intentional. She is the unconditional lover which David needs (but is incapable of accepting) and she is killed in a sort of crucifixion, albeit with the addition of acid, for the ‘sins’ of all robots. Even as she dies, she smiles lovingly at David.

Love is actually represented in all of its forms in the film. The unconditional love of a child is, of course, David. Paternal love is Professor Hobby. “Christian” love is the nanny. Sexual love is Gigolo Joe. The love of a pet is the second-generation mechas at the end of the film. Pity-love is the man who saves David and Joe at the flesh fair. Monica is, of course, motherly love.

The film was full of both Kubrick and Spielberg trademarks (sentimentality, uncomfortable scenes, etc.) but also lacking in a few of them. Spielberg positive characters tend to be fathers, not mothers. The father-child relationship in Spielbergian cinema is one of his most common themes. Spielberg (and others) claim that explicit sex scenes were the only element of Kubrick’s original treatment that were excised. Some may cry that this is another foul similar to the editing of the orgy scenes in Eyes Wide Shut, but Spielberg has simply never done an explicit sex scene and with his style, I think it would end up looking awkward and silly rather than the ‘greatest sex of your life’ that Joe promises.

Well, it’s 1 in the morning and I’ve rambled enough. I hope I haven’t confused too many of you. I’ll probably read this in the morning and wonder what the hell I was talking about.

From the second they were called “mechas,” am I the only one that expected Mad Cats and Warhammers to come marching over the horizon? I suspect so. :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh, and thanks plg, the fourth trailer we had was LotR as well.