Ex Machina (2015)

April 27, 2015

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac
Director: Alex Garland

Bottom Line: Ex Machina is a strong sci-fi film that will keep you interested even though it lacks action and is slowly paced. Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander are excellent in their roles. Isaac plays a passive-aggressive and manipulative CEO that has created a revolutionary human-like AI named Ava. Gleeson is well cast as Caleb, an expert computer programmer summoned to interact with Ava and see if she can pass a Turing Test, which is essentially a test to see how the AI reacts to human interaction – whether she is adapting on her own or just doing what she is programmed to do.

It’s a small film, set in a secluded fortress in Alaska, that features only four principle characters, but it works well in its contained atmosphere. Certainly, Isaac’s billionaire appears to be the kind of person that would be better off programming humanoids than actually interacting with real ones. He’s not a likable person, even if his accomplishments may provoke admiration – a realization that Caleb has shortly after arriving. It’s a film that is centered around Caleb’s interactions with the icy, yet unquestionably sexy Ava and his attraction to her creates the core dilemma of the film: is she genuinely fond of Caleb or is she just behaving how she is programmed to behave.

There is little to complain about concerning Ex Machina but, for me, it lacked the “wow factor” that many seemed to take away from the film. Still, it’s a solid film with quality performances that should leave audiences feeling satisfied afterwards.

Replay Value: I might watch it again some day but it doesn’t feel like a movie I’m anxious to see again.
Sequel Potential: I don’t think so, but it’s certainly possible.
Oscar Potential: With an April release, it’s highly unlikely the Academy will remember it come Oscar season – and it’s hard to compare it to what hasn’t been released yet – but Isaac’s performance is strong enough to keep in mind and Vikander is also really good. There may also be some Visual Effects appreciation for this film.

Grade: 7.5/10 (Recommended/Must See)

Edit: Upon further reflection, I have raised my grade for this movie a full point. The more I think about the movie, the more I realize how riveting it was. It’s absurdly suspenseful, but it’s so subtle you barely even notice.

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