THE near future - robotics expert Professor Hobby has created a replicant that has the capacity to love.
To test his new product, the "mecha", named David (Osment), is placed with a family whose flesh and blood son lies in a coma.
Initially treated with suspicion, he soon develops a powerful bond with his surrogate mother, Monica (O'Connor).
But when their son is revived, the competition is too great and the confused David is cast out into the world.
Chancing upon love-bot Gigolo Joe (Law) at a rejected mecha blasting travelling circus, David convinces his fellow android to help him in his search for a mythical character capable of making David real, and therefore enabling him to be loved by his parents.
The Verdict: Started by the late Stanley Kubrick and completed by Spielberg (in the first script he has written and directed for yonks), AI - like last years Bicentennial Man - is at heart a sci-fi update of Pinocchio, as the young mecha strives to become human, and thus posing questions about the nature of humanity and love.
Constructed in three acts - family, quest, discovery - it's at times very dark.
It's also imaginative, visually stunning and Osment excels as the restrained and confused David.
But the film is overlong, too obviously indebted to Pinocchio (with Teddy acting as a sub-Jimney Cricket character), cold, and with a conclusion that will provoke as much as it perplexes.
With such a pedigree, it's certainly worth seeing, but at best, it's a distinctly flawed masterpiece.