Welcome to A-Z Movie Reviews. Every Sunday, for the next several months, I will be posting a review of a film in my home movie collection. How it works is, I will be reviewing movies in alphabetical order until I get to the letter Z (Yes, I do have a film that ends in Z). Now I realize there are many ways to alphabetize a film collection, but this is mine so don’t judge me. This is simply for fun.
As I’m starting this installment of A-Z Movie Reviews I find myself trying to remember what made me watch Ex Machina. At the time of its release, I was unfamiliar with every actor but Oscar Isaac, who I had seen in Sucker Punch. I think what drew me to this film was the trailer and the premise but also, the fact that it was written and directed by Alex Garland, who also directed films The Beach and 28 Days Later.
Both of those films were very interesting and creepy, so I knew Ex Machina would be no different.
What it’s about:
A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a highly advanced humanoid A.I.
We all have a love hate relationship with technology, and it continues to evolve everyday. There are lots of ways in which we utilize it and it’s only becoming smarter all the time. We don’t always see it but we have an inkling that A.I. is also something being developed. From time to time we get glimpses of it when we see literal dolls being made that are supposedly able to feel certain emotions. People think that’s great, but nobody thinks about the ramifications of creating things like this, and that’s what Ex Machina explores.
Caleb (Domhnall Gleason), who works for Nathan (Isaac), the man behind one of the most popular internet search engines, Blue Book, believes he has won a contest to participate in a ground-breaking study on the development of highly advanced humanoid A.I. He is so excited to participate, because it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. When he arrives at Nathan’s secluded home, he has no idea what to expect and even though he feels a little apprehensive at first with regards to Nathan’s methods, he quickly signs the NDA placed in front of him and their experiment begins.
Nathan informs Caleb he will be interacting with Ava (Alicia Vikander) the A.I. he has created. The two are to participate in several sessions in which Caleb will interact with her to test her consciousness. From the moment Caleb meets Ava he is in awe of her. She’s unlike anything he has seen before and he quickly starts to feel an attachment to her.
Ava has an innocence that draws Caleb in, and as their sessions progress, she begins to warn him that Nathan cannot be trusted. He puts his guard up and immediately becomes suspicious of Nathan’s intentions and he feels a strong need to protect Ava. The more time he spends with her, the more he forgets she is a machine and it’s clear he’s falling in love with her. He makes a plan to rescue her because he discovers that Nathan has been creating multiple A.I. women and putting them through cruel experiments.
Caleb vows to rescue Ava and concocts an elaborate scheme to free not only her, but the others as well. It appears Nathan is a step ahead though, because he informs Caleb he overheard his conversation with Ava and then he reveals that Caleb is actually the one being tested and not Ava. He goes onto explain that he researched Caleb’s internet profile and searches and chose him as the test subject because he fit the profile he was looking for.
Caleb learns that he has been being manipulated the whole time, and that Ava has been using him as a means of escape. Doubtful of Nathan’s story, Caleb still attempts to go through with his plan to free Ava. Nathan tries to stop him but it’s too late, and Ava is able to get out. What happens afterwards is quite astonishing and it’s definitely not an ending that I expected.
This film is very entertaining and though it’s a small cast, everyone is amazing. The biggest standout of course is Alicia Vikander. Her ability to play a machine was incredible to watch. Her years of dance training made her the perfect casting choice, because she was able to move her body in so many ways that looked seamlessly robotic. Her angelic face was able to convey so many emotions and I can never take my eyes off her when I watch her interact with Domhnall.
I also loved the setting of this film because although the budget was small, Alex Garland and his entire team were able to accomplish something incredible. The film was shot in Norway and the location is absolutely stunning, with breathtaking mountain peaks and waterfalls. It’s also amazing what they were able to accomplish with the special effects of creating Ava’s look.
If you’re a fan of Westworld, then I highly recommend Ex Machina because it’s in the same category. It’s a film that will make you think and question just how far technology can go and it will also make you think about the ramifications of creating technology that continues to be just as smart as an actual human being.
- Going anywhere that’s in the middle of nowhere with no cell service is always a bad idea.
- Oscar Isaac was really buff in this movie, and I couldn’t stop looking at his arms.
- You may rethink your internet search habits after watching this movie.
- Even though he’s nutty as hell, that disco dance break between Nathan and Kyoko is pretty entertaining.