ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY
AI: Artificial Intelligence ★★★★
Steven Spielberg’s overlong, futuristic sci-fi fable was released in the UK in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and I vividly remember feeling doubly unsettled at the sight of his CGI depiction of a flooded Manhattan, including the partially submerged Twin Towers. But it’s more than simply spectacle. At its heart, it’s Pinocchio, as filtered through the fertile minds of Brian Aldiss, who wrote the short story, and Stanley Kubrick, who began developing the project but died in 1999. The allegory about a robot boy (Haley Joel Osment) who is abandoned in the woods by his adoptive human parents (Sam Robards and The Missing’s Frances O’Connor) perfectly suits Spielberg’s family-orientated sensibilities. The orphaned “mecha” then joins forces with Jude Law’s gigolo-bot to embark on a quest to find the Blue Fairy and become a “real boy”. Scary in places, especially the steampunk section, it’s a treat for the eyes but I would speculate more schmaltzy than Kubrick’s version would have been.
The World Is Not Enough ★★★★
Pierce Brosnan has his hands full with villain Robert Carlyle and Bond girl Sophie Marceau in the 19th outing for the suave spy – the speedboat chase down the Thames is a highlight.
30 Days of Night ★★★
The Arctic winter provides a feeding bonanza for vampires in this clever shocker that stars Josh Hartnett as the sheriff of an isolated Alaskan town.
It’s a Wonderful Life ★★★★★
4.40-7.15pm Film Four
It wouldn’t be Christmas without an appearance from this perennial fantasy. James Stewart has rarely been better as a suicidal man brought back from the brink by his guardian angel.
The mean streets of Paris are no match for Liam Neeson in this lean and brutal thriller in which a retired CIA agent tracks down his kidnapped daughter.