1. The Mecha World
2. Abandoned in the Woods
4. Hide and Seek
5. For Always (performed by Lara Fabian)
7. The Moon Rising
8. Stored Memories and Monica's Theme
9. Where Dreams Are Born
10. Rouge City
11. The Search for the Blue Fairy
12. The Reunion
13. For Always (duet performed by Lara Fabian and Josh Groban)
SOUND: The soundtrack to Steven Spielberg's "A.I.: Artificial Intellgence" is presented in 24bit/96khz Advanced Resolution DVD-Audio 5.1 & 2.0, as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 for those who do not have DVD-Audio capable equipment. Yet again, there is no crossing back and forth - those who have DVD-Audio capable equipment are not given the option of playing the Dolby Digital presentation - although not that many who have DVD-Audio players would likely want to anyways, but as always, when it comes to reviewing, it might make for an interesting comparison.
Soundtracks have not been a well-represented group in terms of the DVD-Audio format, as before "A.I." there has only been a release for an independent film called "Triathalon" that has been brought to the format. The Williams score though, with its mix of eerily modern and electronic sounds with traditional classical music, proves to be an effort wonderfully suited to the DVD-Audio format. With its atmospheric and icy sounds, the score often creeps up on the viewer, suddenly rising in intensity and dropping back into subtle melody just as quickly.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this edition in terms of how the music would be re-positioned for surround-sound on DVD-Audio. Scanning the insert for the name of the mixer, the listing noted that Shawn Murphy had remixed the score to surround-sound at the Sony Pictures scoring stage. As Murphy is also the credited scoring mixer on the picture, this would lead me to believe that the way that the score was represented in theaters remains intact here, which is certainly a very good thing.
The score maintains a basic, but compelling and effective surround-sound environment. Infrequently, instrumentals are subtlely highlighted in the rears, but the majority of the soundtrack has the surrounds providing re-inforcement. As a result, the haunting undercurrents of tracks like "Abandoned in the Woods" and the majestic "Rouge City" are involving without directing our attention to what one speaker or another is offering; although this works wonderfully for most music albums when done right, for a score like this one, it simply works best in when the surround format allows the music to be brought further out into the room. In 5.1, even though there isn't anything agressive about the presentation, the added envelopment and depth makes for a completely more compelling listening experience.
Yes, there are the two instances during the soundtrack that aren't instrumental pieces: "For Always", a radio-friendly ballad that pops up twice during the soundtrack, does nicely position singer Lara Fabian's vocals across the front speakers, while the surrounds provide backing instruments.
Also making for a much more enjoyable listening experience is the exceptional audio quality available from the DVD-Audio format, which Williams's work sounds remarkable in. From the quiet of "Stored Memories and Monica's Theme" to the bold and haunting "The Moon Rising", the DVD-Audio edition is able to clearly render the highest highs and deepest lows - and there's some pretty deep low-bass on "Moon Rising" and some of the other tracks.
Williams's work for "A.I." is one of the most interesting and effective scores that the famed composer has provided in recent years and the DVD-Audio edition really captures this outstanding effort in all its glory, with superior audio quality and a basic, but highly enjoyable surround-sound mix.
Extras: Photo gallery and note from Steven Spielberg. It would have been nice if the trailer from the movie was included, but oh well.
Final Thoughts: A terrific score from one of the most highly regarded composers of our time, the "A.I." soundtrack is an often brilliant, soulful and beautiful piece of work. The DVD-Audio presentation provides a simple, but extremely effective 5.1 surround-sound experience, which also offers the music with the kind of crisp, clear and dynamic sound quality that the DVD-Audio format can provide. Highly Recommended.