My Rating: 3 stars
This movie was ok. I wish I’d seen it right when it came out, and before I’d heard too much about it. Seeing something a little too late always ruins a movie-watching experience for me. In fact, I usually have all the Oscar movies ruined for me each year, because I’ve been really bad about going to see movies while they’re still in the theater. I need to work on that. But, as a result, I didn’t love this movie quite as much as the rest of the world. This is, of course, the story about Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with his computer’s Artificial Intelligence operating system, Samantha. And, Samantha is played by the seductive, husky voice of Scarlett Johansson. I seem to be on a bit of a theme this week. That girl does have a certain allure.
However, I think that everything I needed to know about this story was given to me in the trailer. I hate when that happens. The movie felt like it dragged on and on. The pacing was totally off, because the film didn’t develop any of the core ideas any more thoroughly than the trailer did (and really it didn’t need to). I’ve been noticing that a lot more lately. I’ve seen a lot of movies that are so single-note that the trailer is sufficient to explore the entire concept. And worse than that, some trailers are even including blatant spoilers! It’s pretty bad. And, the one note that this movie keeps harping on is the ennui of the mopey, lovelorn, singleton. And, then that character stays quite mopey even once he’s found “love.” I lost interest pretty quickly.
This didn’t have to be a simple movie. Artificial Intelligence is a fascinating idea. And, it’s always fun to imagine how humans will interact with it. I thought Ghost in the Shell did an excellent job of exploring these ideas in great detail. That movie asks about the difference between real humans who happen to be uploaded into a cyberbrain, versus an artificially created consciousness. And, Ghost also examined the concept of what it would look like if several different entities merged in cyberspace like this movie did. But, Ghost in the Shell approaches all these topics in a much more sophisticated way. That series really raises a lot of conflicts and questions in a viewers mind. It stirs up emotions. But, this movie just made me want to push Joaquin and his hand-internet down a well, so that they could lie down there, and have cyber-sex together forever. So, I don’t think my disappointment in this film stems entirely from hearing too much about it beforehand.
But, this movie does have style going for it. It looks great. The fashion, the colors, the furniture, the city. It all looks so chic and modern. So, if you watch this movie for anything, watch it for that. I especially like Joaquin’s red color-scheme. But, if you’re looking for a nuanced examination of the complex, emotional relationships between humans and technology, I’d like to steer you over toward the Ghost in the Shell series of movies and TV episodes. Countless other science fiction franchises have borrowed ideas from them, but I still think they do it best. But, get to them before the inevitably horrible US remake comes out. That’s bound to be a disaster.