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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.
Domhnall Gleeson – Caleb
Oscar Isaac – Nathan
Alicia Vikander – Ava
Sonoya Mizuno – Kyoko
A word of warning for those of you whi dislike “talky” movies: This movie is very talky.
Yes, Ex Machina is a fresh take on the whole A.I. concept, but ultimately it is cosntant dialogue between a man and a robot girl. And between a man and another man. From the second Caleb arrives on Nathan’s island, there are questions and in-depth discussion of very technical topics. When the action does get going, it’s about fifty minutes in – the only gripping stuff unfolds at the very end of the film’s screen time. Which was kind of disapponting. But for what it is, both Domhnall and Alicia manage to maintain an effective partnership. The chemistry between the pair is spot-on, delivering some genuinely tense moments. For example, a scene where Ava asks Caleb questions about his life; whenever he hesitates or answers incorrectly, she announces “LIE” with the most robotic of facial expressions which radiates a sinister atmosphere. And then of course, the scenes where she causes a power outage add to this as in the dark, she turns to him to warn him of the danger he may be in..
Fans of robots, robot-humans, analytical discussion, or those who delve into deep conversation about how the world began when they’re pissed, will no doubt enjoy Ex Machina. It’s slick and intelligent, gives the audience an injection of smartness without overdoing it. So it’s quite talky in terms of technical topics, but I was relieved the dialogue didn’t spiral into scientific oblivion. It was easy enough to follow. I couldn’t help pondering if the characters of this movie met the characters from The Big Bang Theory – my god, it’d be fucking carnage. Anyway, be prepared to keep your ears open.
The scenery / settings for Ex Machina are beautiful. Apart from good old Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, filming locations include Sognefjord and Valldal in Norway. I had a feeling the ‘top of the planet’ would be involved; nowhere else on Earth would you find such pure, crystal-clear beauty than Norway or Iceland. God, I remember a trip I took to Iceland once – a few years ago. I literally “just felt like it” so jumped on a flight to Reykjavik. The whole week-long experience was magnificent. Incredible country.
A-HEM, anyway, when Caleb arrives on Nathan’s “island”, the helicopter lowers onto lush green grass surrounded by gigantic snow-topped mountains. This pleasured my eyeballs enough, but it only got better. Nathan’s home is a modern glass structure sat above a gushing river – think of looking at the outside of the living quarters of a Big Brother style building. It’s quaint and very smart. Inside the research facility, once past the chrome kitchen, the layout is a maze of hallways and sophisticated technology, including sliding doors which add to the overall slick sci-fi atmosphere. The doors only open by use of a key card, everything else is controlled by remote control. Everything is artificial. I actually quite liked this; the movie wasn’t your classic ‘man keeps robot in basement of old creaky wooden house’ – the set definitely mirrored this genre of movie. Top marks for set and scenery. A quality element of Ex Machina.
Well what can I say? Ava is a robot girl thing, you can all see from the trailer what you’re dealing with. Alicia Vikander does a great job of portraying the humanoid artifical intelligence; she is robotic and monotone yet highly in touch with emotions. This makes for an interesting watch. I found myself wondering how far her emotions would develop if at all, and how the feature would end. I was also irritated by Caleb most of the time because of how romantically involved he got. The guy knows Ava is a computer – he is well aware of this from his arrival, yet still there are glares of passion in his eyes when he speaks to her (it). I kept thinking, “for fuck sake. She’s not real”. But then, if I was put in a glass room with a hunky guy, I’d probably glaze over the fact he was a machine as my penis took over my judgement. I will admit, I find the likes of Iron Man sexy. That masculine metal outfit which oozes sexines. Who wouldn’t?
The twist at the end of Ex Machina is brilliant. I didn’t think it would end how it did, and made for compelling viewing. As with most movies which have an effective impact on me, I sat in the auditorium mouthing the words “what the fuck”. It certainly contains the question of ‘what will happen to him / her next?’. Good stuff.
Ex Machina is weird. It’s a clever idea but nothing I haven’t seen before. The cast fly through the script without fault and manage to capture the sinister yet intriguing atmosphere nicely. Its winning element has to be the tension it radiates during certain scenes; power cuts and discoveries which ensure scenes follow that are filled with intrigue. If you’re into science fiction and technology then you should enjoy this. And if you’re also into weird features that leave you baffled but entertained – give it a go. Technical. Strange. Glossy.