Ex Machina

"Excellent"

Ex Machina Review


Slick and seductive, this exploration of artificial intelligence may essentially only have three characters, but it's complex, provocative and thoroughly engaging. After writing screenplays for films like 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go, Alex Garland moves easily into the director's role, telling a superbly atmospheric story that twists and turns in subtle ways to both draw us in and freak us out. And the cast adds even more depth to the interaction.

Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is one of the smartest geeks at a technology mega-corporation, and he's thrilled when he wins a competition to spend two weeks with company founder Nathan (Oscar Isaac) at his vast isolated estate somewhere in the far reaches of what looks like Scandinavia. Once there, Nathan assigns Caleb to evaluate his latest invention, a robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander), and see if she passes the Turing Test: does Caleb remember that he's interacting with a computer? As Ava and Caleb check each other out, the heavy-drinking Nathan watches perhaps a bit too closely. Caleb begins to realise that he's never out of view, and Ava warns him not to trust Nathan. Then strange power cuts begin to hint that something else is going on here.

Where this goes is surprising because most of Garland's scripts and novels escalate to scenes of outrageous horror. But this story remains controlled and internalised; even when it gets violent, it remains emotionally resonant. And these three characters are fascinating (the fourth person in the house is Nathan's mute sushi chef, played by Sonoya Mizuno). Their conversations are packed with subtext, continually shifting the power while making us wonder who's really in control here. And the actors play them with earthy authenticity. Vikander has an uncanny humanity even though 80 percent of her body is a special effect. Gleeson is thoroughly likeable, easy to identify with as he falls into the rabbit hole. And Isaac is simply magnetic in the way he combines Nathan's groovy laid-back attitude with something vaguely sinister.

This is one of those rare movies that encompasses big ideas in a story that's never remotely predictable. Even if some of the themes seem a bit on-the-nose (such as the rivalry between creator and creation), there are other ideas that make us think (are artists creative because of some sort of genetic programming, or is art an accident?). But best of all is the way Nathan and Caleb interact with Ava in ways that say a lot about how preconceptions rule how we treat each other. Since they know she's a robot, are they kinder or crueller? And does the way they treat her make any difference in what she thinks about them?

Ex Machina Trailer

 



Ex Machina

Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Run time: 60 mins

In Theaters: Monday 4th June 2012

Box Office Worldwide: $13.7M

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, DNA Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Allon Reich

Starring: as Caleb, as Nathan, as Ava

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