BEST POSSIBLE A.I. DVD: Steven Spielberg explains in meticulous detail which ideas were his, which were Stanley Kubrick's, and which were those of Super-toys Last All Summer Long author Brian Aldiss. Worst possible A.I. DVD: a lengthy series of glossy Industrial Light & Magic featurettes, no cutting-room-floor scraps, and no director commentary. Big shocker: The double-disc treatment of this audience-polarizing pet project (out March 5) is all mecha, no orga.
Mass consensus reflected that A.I.'s futuristic cityscapes were daring, the robot effects possessed subtle brilliance, and the story went to shit the exact moment the narrator uttered the words, "Thus, 2,000 years passed by." If A.I.'s legacy is indeed in the computer chips, perhaps its DVD's abundance of behind-the-scenes tech-nerd minutiae is appropriate.
Although the little bastard insists on using the pronoun "we" to discuss all creative decisions, Haley Joel Osment deals some decent dish: He didn't blink the entire film and took scuba lessons to facilitate his many underwater scenes. We watch a makeup artist airbrush Jude Law's hairline to achieve Gigolo Joe's harsh Ken-doll plasticity. And little is uncool about Hal-like "supertoy" Teddy. The bear was outfitted with multiple detachable heads to evoke (kid you not) "Melancholy Teddy" or "Conspiratorial Teddy."
What most folks would rather see is Spielberg—or even the actors, if they felt capable—defending the decision to sell out a compelling, existential sci-fi conundrum for fairy-tale pabulum. Look for that footage the day George Lucas admits Jar Jar was the product of a weeklong LSD binge.
MARCH 12 SEES a flood of DVDs, including Sexy Beast with A.I. narrator Ben Kingsley in his Oscar-nominated performance; Sir Ben lends his commentary among the disc's few extras. Surprisingly, David Mamet's Heist comes with no bonus material, but Joy Ride contains an entire 28-minute "never-before-seen third act," which may explain some of its original mediocrity. Stephen Frear's Liam has little to recommend and no supplements, while The Wash arrives with two discs' worth of goodies. From Criterion, the worthwhile 2001 indie George Washington boasts many extras, and Fellini's 1965 Juliet of the Spirits has a new digital transfer of its Technicolor print.