Movie Review: ‘Ex Machina’May 16, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Posted in Movies, Reviews, scifi/fantasy | Leave a comment
When I first saw the trailer for Ex Machina back in October, I knew it was a film I wanted to go see. For starters, it had two actors that were going to be in the new Star Wars movie. But secondly, it looked like a good flick, something provoking and intelligent. I was not let down.
The movie opens with Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) winning a trip to visit a famous technology mogul named Nathan (Oscar Isaac). It doesn’t waste any time with the premise and quickly jumps to Nathan’s remote retreat. His estate is hidden away in a green valley between glacial mountains. It’s a beautiful setting, and one the film takes time to occasionally come back to. There Caleb meets Nathan and they make their awkward introductions. Nathan shows him around his extremely chic house before breaking him in on the secret of why he’s here: to test an artificial intelligence. This is were Eva (Alicia Vikander) comes into play, the true star of the film. She is incredibly life like yet completely bizarre. You can see through parts of her body which reveal the mechanical workings within. Yet her face and hands are lifelike, as well as her personality and voice.
It is the relationship between Caleb, Eva and Nathan that forms the core of the story. Caleb is introduced to this lifelike machine. He talks to it. He gets to know it. He falls in love with it. Nathan, on the other hand, is the observer. He has brought Caleb here to watch his interaction with the machine and to see if it can pass the test. And then there’s Eva, a machine, a robot, an artificial intelligence. By making her look the way she does, the filmmakers are able to fool audiences into believing that this isn’t just some actress pretending to be a robot, but a genuine machine made real. It’s a brilliant visual effect.
Through the tight cast of characters, the movie is an emotionally charged ride. Subtle twists and turns add an increasing edge to the story. Caleb is there to test an AI. Caleb loses himself in the test. Caleb gets attached to Eva. He starts seeing Nathan as a manipulator, an obstacle, and a threat. Eva becomes his shining hope, his damsel in distress. It’s thought provoking and intelligently done. The ending certainly gives you a lot to think about and makes it all worthwhile.
For Star Wars fans, Ex Machina is a chance to see some of the upcoming actors at work and showing off their skills. But as a film on its own, it’s one of the better takes on AI that I’ve seen. I definitely didn’t leave the theater feeling like I wasted my money. Instead, my brain was fired up with the twists of the story and how marvelously well done they pulled it off. I give it a solid four out of five metal bikinis and highly recommend checking it out while you can on the big screen. As good as Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson’s performances are, Alicia Vikander is the real star and shows she has some serious talent.