Ex Machina

A brilliant contemplation on the power of technology.
Movie Review #976


“Ex Machina” is surreal, carefully narrated sci-fi. At its core, it is a brilliant fable that traces the fine line between man’s consumption of technology, and technology’s consumption of man himself. The film offers a view of the future–our future–that is so above the normal, it almost feels like a hallucination.

Alex Garland’s script offers a brilliant contemplation of the social and psychological effects of artificial intelligence. Oscar Isaac plays a rich, white man, practically a symbol in this dystopian tale, which is confined smartly to the microcosm of his mansion. Isaac’s character has summoned an apprentice (Domnhall Gleeson) to assist in the development of a female robot, whom he calls Ava. He plans for Ava to be the first in a series of androids–or rather, gynoids–that will look, talk, and act like humans. But Gleeson soon becomes attached to Ava, for better or for worse. Alicia Vikander’s performance as Ava just might be the greatest merit in “Ex Machina”. She doesn’t bridge a gap between hero and villain, and in fact, she makes any such classification feel irrelevant.

There’s several other merits, though. “Ex Machina” feels like a mesh between mainstream and art film. From Hollywood, it would feel much different. The music here exercises a subtle brilliance, imitating the classic “Close Encounters” leitmotif, however with a subtle, lurking, almost ominous power. Even visually, this movie is aesthetically pleasing. The gradually changing design for Ava’s costume speaks awesomely to her transition into a more humanlike being. Better yet, Rob Hardy employs the rare art of simplicity in his cinematography, and crafts something absolutely stunning. I’ll also note that, at the film’s midpoint, there is a dancing scene set to “Get Down Saturday Night” by Oliver Cheatham. It appears purely out of the random, but it earns our heaviest appreciation. If there’s any scene where you DON’T get up for popcorn, this is that scene. With “Under the Skin” in 2014, and now “Ex Machina” in 2015, Great Britain has proven to be very much to be on a winning streak with sci-fi movies. It’s rather promising.

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