Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
Written and directed by Alex Garland
IMDB Rating: 8.1 (25/01/2015, 5 days after release)
This is the first time in our short history we’ve reviewed a film after reviewing its trailer months before! Read what we were initially thinking of Ex Machina here!
A weirdly compelling film that fluctuates itself as much as your thoughts. Ex Machina is a compelling look into science’s potential future.
Caleb (Gleeson) wins a company competition to spend a week with the reclusive CEO of his search engine company, Nathan (Isaac). When he gets there he finds out that he is part of an experiment to test the human qualities of Nathan’s self-created artificial intelligence, the beautiful Ava (Vikander).
The phrase ‘thought-provoking’ has been used a lot by critics, and I can’t think of any other word to open up this review. This is a very well created story by Alex Garland. The way the characters conduct themselves, and how Garland makes the story unfold keeps you second guessing the two characters on either side of Caleb, the inventor Nathan and his enslaved A.I Ava. The different theories and stories thrown about by the characters are also very compelling and shows the research, intelligence and hard work put into the script by veteran writer Alex Garland (28 Days Later…, Never Let Me Go) – notably the ‘hot assistant’ analogy and how that plays a part later in the film. However, the film fluctuates in ways it doesn’t have to. At one point it will be really thoughtful and suspenseful, and then a moment later the ‘evil genius’ Nathan is performing a dance routine with his Asian maid! That’s just an example of how the film continuously changed from being edgy to a fluffy British film, and I feel that if Garland took out some of the fluff he would have created a much darker and sharper movie. The characters and their interactions feel real, but I think they are too real for the movies and if Garland took some of the real out of Nathan then it would have been a better movie. It is also worth noting, without giving anything away, that the ending to Ex Machina was one of the darkest, most unexpected endings to a movie that I have seen in recent years, so credit must go to Garland for that!
The acting in this film is pretty solid. Domhnall Gleeson does a good job of portraying the confused, but generally smart Caleb but his stature doesn’t really change from where it starts, even after everything happens. Oscar Isaac is okay as Nathan, but nothing to write home about, so to speak. It’s hard to talk about the performance of the ‘robot’ Ava, played by Alicia Vikander, and for her that has to be a good thing! It was a very convincing performance by her of a non-human.
After many writing credits, this is Alex Garland’s first foray into directing, and he hasn’t done his reputation any harm with Ex Machina. He has created a very pretty movie in a very pretty setting, and has made very good use of sound and colours, adding to the general eerie confusion created by his story. I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of him as a director because this film shows he has plenty of potential in this field! Praise must also go to Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, the creators of what was a very good score. The music perfectly complimented and enhanced the movie with its sometimes ear-splitting eeriness.
I remember going to watch it and somebody saying to me that its the new I, Robot, and I understand that but at points the score for this film – and the movie in general – reminded me more of Under the Skin, and I think that is a closer comparison. Very thoughtful and conflicting, but soft around the edges. A movie worth seeing, just don’t expect it to be all guns blazing at you!
Seen Ex Machina? Tell us what you thought!