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Review - Ex Machina

By midlandsmovies, Jun 13 2015 08:11AM

Ex_Machina (2015) Dir. Alex Garland

From the writer of The Beach, 28 Days Later, Dredd and Sunshine comes the directorial debut of Alex Garland who writes and directs this near-future tale of robot realities and both technophiles and technophobes.

The film begins with plucky computer programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) winning a lottery to meet and spend some time with the CEO of the company he works for at his rural retreat. Flown in by helicopter, Gleeson meets the eccentric Nathan (Oscar Isaac) who drinks to excess and speaks in grandiose platitudes whilst piling scorn on his non-English speaking housemaid. Owing to his background, Caleb is asked to undertake a Turing test of Nathan’s latest creation, an artificial female android called Ava (Alicia Vikander) to see if she can pass for human.

Encased in a glass box, it is Caleb who we see entrapped as he begins questioning the robot on its understanding of her reality before beginning to question the motives of Nathan who may not be all he seems. The house is filled with CCTV cameras which fail during power outages and conversations start to occur in this downtime without the scientific observation or daily analysis. As the sentient’s emotions develop, so do Caleb’s as he is unsure of who to trust as he discusses with Nathan the implications of what he has created.

The film is an introspective piece set within the confines of one location and the drama plays out in intense dialogue that doesn’t dumb-down its social commentary or technical jargon. Isaac is all swaggering excellence playing the CEO of Bluebook (nice name!) going peculiar in his own isolated and private world, whilst Vikander avoids old android tropes and plays her character with menacing innocence.

Tackling heavy themes of consciousness and body-alteration, Garland’s film side-steps genre histrionics for a much more subdued treatise on the nature of man and machine. With 3 excellent leads, the Domhnall-Isaac pairing will be seen later this year in Star Wars VII which bodes well, the film only suffers from a slight lack of action but is done with great style and design much like Ava’s mechanical body herself.

Alongside modern concerns of A.I. and its role within evolution, the film taps into human apprehension of androids and ends on a conspicuous finale which leaves the viewer with even more questions. The film’s highlights include the amazing acting, subtle CGI (solely created for Ava) and includes realistic characters and motivations. The film should appeal to the “Primer” audience of realistic science rather than the “I, Robot” crowd, but any fan of interesting sci-fi or the repercussions of bionic biology should find more than their fair share of organic meat on electronic bones in Ex Machina.


Midlands Movies Mike

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