Ex-Machina seems inspired by Quantic Dream’s “Kara” Tech Demo, but with the focus on how the first round of A.I. androids were tested and made.
Director & Writer: Alex Garland
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
Within Nathan’s (Oscar Isaac) company there is one unattached coder named Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson). He is selected to administer a Turing test to Nathan’s latest, and greatest, project known as Ava (Alicia Vikander). Someone who is pure artificial intelligence, in a life like body, and he wants to see if she is simply a well-programmed machine, or capable of all the thoughts, tricks, and lies, of the human mind. Something Caleb, and Nathan to a point, get to experience personally.
I have been anticipating this film since I saw it pop up on Indiewire months ago. For while I’ve never been a huge sci-fi fan, I do love robots in live action environments. And I do feel Ex-Machina gave an adequate quench to my thirst. For Vikander, through special effects and her acting, certainly present all the appeal and curiosity that Gleeson presents to us. After all, she is a fully functional robot, who Nathan notes can have sex, and as you feel for this robot, and she plants ideas in your head, as does Nathan, you wonder who is telling the truth, a lie, or whether both just aren’t telling the full story?
And before we move onto criticism, I must note that the NY audience I was sitting with absolutely loved Nathan’s comedic timing and dialog. Which, admittedly, got me to chuckle here and there, but they damn near every scene he was in. And I don’t mean to sound like he wasn’t entertaining, Oscar Isaac that is, for he surely was a highlight of the film, but I do think part of the reason for all the laughter was a New York sense of humor I just didn’t get.
Some of the main issues I had with this film is that it is somewhere between predictable and being too blatant with its foreshadowing. For while it does present a surprise, somewhat, near the end, it isn’t like the film really made things tense to the point you couldn’t fathom what the end result would be.
Leading to problem #2: the film seriously leaves you wanting more. At 108 minutes, the film feels surprisingly short. For just as soon as Caleb arrived to Nathan’s isolated facility, meets Ava, and we are wondering whether it is Ava or Nathan who should be considered the villain, the movie is over. Leaving you wondering if the pace of the movie is to keep you from becoming bored, to set up a sequel, or due to budget restraints.
Overall: TV Viewing
This is the type of film that, while you are watching, it puts you in the mindset of feeling like you are watching something cool and interesting, especially as Nathan keeps you awake by telling jokes, but once the movie is done the luster wears off. For while watching I was certainly thinking of labeling this as “Worth Seeing,” but on the ride back I found myself reconsidering.
The reason being, as funny as Nathan was, and how much I fell for Vikander’s performance as Ava, it ultimately felt like there was no surprises here. Like, if you have watched movies like this before, or even the linked Kara demo, you could predict what happens. Then, add on that the film doesn’t really challenge you to think you may be wrong, but it rather pushes the idea you are right, and it sort of dulls the aftertaste, for a lack of a better word, of the film.
Hence the TV Viewing label for while it is good, being that it isn’t at local theaters, unless you live in a major metropolitan area, I’d say you should wait for it to come out on VOD or DVD. For while it is certainly something to have on your viewing list, it isn’t so good that it is worth the extra amount of money to go really out of your way to find a theater showing it.
Things To Note
Caleb slashes his wrist, downward, bleeds profusely, and seemingly this is to show that maybe he is questioning if he is AI. Of which seemingly he isn’t, so him not bleeding to death, or seeking some sort of medical attention, I found very strange.
Considering the brain of the AI is in the skull, as it would in a human, I didn’t understand why Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) was seemingly dead at the end of the film. After all, Nathan only knocked her jaw off.
“You’re not lucky, you’re chosen.”