Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ex Machina Movie Review

Synopsis: A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.

Ex Machina is a very smart movie across the board, down to the pacing to its writing to its execution. This is a slower film than most, but the ideas within it are so fascinating that it never loses your attention, often times my mind wondered about what would come after every corner to only be surprised by the film toying with the narrative I wanted to happen versus the one that is unfolding before me in the best of ways. Unlike most scifi films that only dips their toes within its premise, Ex Machina goes further than most and is brave enough to not hold your hand when it decides to just drop you into this world with no real context. The idea of artificial intelligence and the meaning behind it, is on display; creating life through technology, does that warrant your ownership to it because it is not truly alive through our human means of existence? How would It view its creator?

All of the characters are archetypes of what you've seen before although never crossing that line into cliche. Nathan(Oscar Isaac) a billionaire, genius from a young age with the ego that matches that denomination, who has locked himself away from the world for fear of his creations being stolen. Celeb(Domhnall Gleeson) is your eyes to this world, a sympathetic computer programmer who discovers the reason for his involvement may not be as he originally thought as hinted by the A.I. counterpart Ava(Alicia Vikander) who has an innocence that not only entrances Celeb but us the audience. Even though they may seem stereotypical, the writing is very tight; every piece of dialogue is to progress the story, characters do things that don't contradict with what they have done before. The performances are played well, each deliver upon the role with subtle nuances, especially Viklander who sells her performance to such a degree that it makes us feel for her to a fault. You never truly trust anything that you see but the performances are so natural that its hard to trust if a character is being genuine or if they are moving the pieces in their favor.

Directed and written by Alex Garland, who previously wrote 28 Days later(2002) and Sunshine(2007) with this film being his directorial debut. With its estimated 12 million budget, it’s used very wisely, it feels bigger than it actually is even though you really only venture around one location. The set design is quite phenomenal, it works as a beautiful environment as well as a thematic play on the narrative. Claustrophobic at times that relate back to the nature of these characters, the use of locked doors parallelling Ava’s situation. The security system that locks down all doors when the power is hit reinforces Nathan's phobia of letting his secrets escape, each room small like their own compartments for Nathan to store his creations and ideas with cameras that can observe every conversation in each room. Garland does a phenomenal job directing but it is clear that the writing takes the stage, as that is where most of meat of the film lies. Viewers that want a deeper meaning behind the premise can find plenty to ponder about.

Although at first I did not like the ending, as I mentioned before of the narrative playing on my expectations, it remains true to itself. "Not like" is not completely true, as I did like what I was seeing, it was just the emotional impact that it had on me. While others may cry foul at the ending, the underneath themes of how women are treated is also very apparent and it plays off of that very nicely. After I let my mind rest on the ideas I think that this is the best ending it could have with how the film handles its tone. I believe that if you have an interest at all with scifi then you should definitely see Ex Machina, it’s got all the right elements to make what I believe is one of this years best films.