Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ex Machina (Britain, 2015)

Nine Things About the Movie Ex Machina

1. This is a strange and satisfying science fiction/mystery/thriller/philosophy film.

2. Screenwriter Alex Garland wrote the scripts for 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, which introduced the modern idea of zombies as rage-filled, fast-running, eating machines. He also wrote the under-appreciated Sunshine. Garland not only wrote Ex Machina, he directed it as well.

3.  It's about a computer programmer named Caleb who wins a lottery at work and is flown to the private compound of billionaire genius Nathan. Caleb is going to spend a week trying to help Nathan decide if Nathan's new robot, Ava, can pass as human.

4. This is not an action film. Not in the slightest. Most of the movie consists of just Caleb, Nathan, and Ava talking to each other. But the movie gets darker and creepier as it goes along, and Caleb begins to suspect he's being played - but he's not sure how, or by whom.

5. There are a few annoying plot holes; however, Garland is a smart enough writer that I'm sure he knew about them, and just had to accept them in order for his story to work.

6. The acting is great all around. Oscar Isaac (from Inside Llewyn Davis and A Most Violent Year) was especially excellent as Nathan - from the moment he appears on the screen, you know something is wrong with him, even though you can't quite figure out what.

7. Using the idea of artificial intelligence as a cover, the movie explores some deeply philosophical issues of identity, humanity, and existence.

8. Visually, the movie is full of glass and deceptively reflective surfaces, which effectively symbolize the intellectual maze that Caleb finds himself in. The ambient soundtrack is an excellent example of how sound can enhance a scene and manipulate a mood without being overly obvious.

9. If you're looking for a blockbuster science fiction movie about robots, then stay away from this one. But for more introspective and thoughtful viewers, this is a philosophical tangle of yarn that is ready for you to unravel.