Ex Machina

(2015)

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Title:
Ex Machina
Release Date:
21st January 2015
Runtime:
108 min
MPAA Rating:
R
Genres:
Directors:
Alex Garland
Writers:
Alex Garland
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, makes his directorial debut with the stylish and cerebral thriller, EX MACHINA. Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at an internet-search giant, wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain estate of the company's brilliant and reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon his arrival, Caleb learns that Nathan has chosen him to be the human component in a Turing Test-charging him with evaluating the capabilities, and ultimately the consciousness, of Nathan's latest experiment in artificial intelligence. That experiment is Ava (Alicia Vikander), a breathtaking A.I. whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated--and more deceptive--than the two men could have imagined. (C) A24

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 93%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 86%
IMDb Rating 7.7

Casts

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by themissingpatient 26th April, 2015

Paranoid Android

Ex Machina has a very fitting sense of false intimacy. This is done visually as many of the close-ups are seen through glass. No matter how close we get to the subject on-screen, there always seems to be at least one wall of glass between us and it or them. The film also makes a very distinct contrast between it's interior and exterior shots. Outside of the facility is breathtaking landscapes. It is big, beautiful, refreshing and vibrant. Inside seems like an endless futuristic maze of glass, mirrors, plastic, chrome and dim lights. It is clean, cold and claustrophobic. A perfect setting for the subject that is explored in this tight, tense sci-fi thriller. Ex Machina is the best science fiction film on artificial intelligence since Blade Runner. While Blade Runner is an action thriller that relies more on it's epic visuals to tell it's story, Ex Machina is a dialogue-driven psychological thriller that slowly works it's way under your skin. Thought-provoking and terrifyingly suspenseful, an induced state of paranoia may linger long after the end credits begin to roll. The less you know going into a film like this, the better your experience will be. Alex Garland has given us a modern science-fiction masterpiece. Performances from all three leads are flawless and every other aspect of the production, from the cinematography to the soundtrack, is perfectly suited for the story. Not only is Ex Machina an amazing achievement for a directorial debut, it's Alex Garland's best written work to-date.

Reviewed by bob-the-movie-man 26th January, 2015

I think therefore am I?

Ex Machina has a simple story dealing with a deeply complex and philosophical topic: namely what makes humans human. The increasingly omnipresent Oscar Isaac plays billionaire Nathan Bates, genius creator of 'Google' - my mistake - 'BlueBook', the world's "leading search engine". Bates lives in the middle of the American wilderness (in reality, a very picturesque Norway) and in a property that actually exists (BlueBook the Juvet Hotel). He is leading a one-man research project into the development of an Artificial Intelligence. Leading neatly on from the recent Cumbur-busting "The Imitation Game" the eccentric and erratic Nathan needs to share his work with someone external in order to perform 'The Turing Test' - the test to determine if a machine can genuinely pass itself off as human to another human. Domhnall Gleeson' character (Caleb) works for BlueBook and wins the Wonka Golden Ticket to spend a week with Nathan, becoming the human side of the test. Ava is the beautiful and seductive android subject and the film clinically walks through the sessions between Caleb and Ava, watched over by Nathan via the villa's comprehensive CCTV system. The only other significant character in the film is Nathan's house maid Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno), who neither understands nor speaks English so drifts silently around offering various 'services'. We have been here before: Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" and Spielberg's "AI" both covered similar ground, but in perhaps a less claustrophobic manner than Ex Machina. This serves the story well, ramping up the tension as an age old Sci-fi plot-point emerges (as covered by the trailer): how will a sentient machine feel about having its plug pulled. (No rain or doves are included in this one). The acting is all up to snuff, with Isaac - this time hiding behind a Brian Blessed-style bushy beard - looking and acting for all the world like George Clooney. Domhnall Gleeson ("About Time", "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and getting all the roles that Paul Bettany is now too old for) makes the journey well from nice but naive employee to a much more world-wise freedom-fighter. Swedish-born Alicia Vikander, currently also leading in "Testament of Youth", is deliciously sensual as Ava (albeit - and trust me to notice this - that her significant assets seem to vary in size during the movie). She is also an excellent actress, having to reflect a wide range of emotions through little else than her eyes. I really enjoyed this film. However, that is on the basis that Science Fiction is one of my favourite genres: I can see some audiences finding the philosophical plotting too slow and wordy to hold their interest. But if you like your films deep and thought-provoking, as well as deliciously tense in places, then this might be for you. The writer and director is Alex Garland, and this is actually his impressive directorial debut. He is of course best known as a writer, having penned the novel of "The Beach" and the screenplays for films including "28 Days Later", "Sunshine" and "Never Let Me Go". Also hats off to the special effects crew (led by Richard Conway) since Ava is a miracle of visual effects. The effective keyboard score is by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury. The film pleasingly doesn't outstay its welcome, also leaving some loose ends to ponder on after the lights come on and the screeching credits song (sorry, but it's just AWFUL!) drives you from the auditorium. Also be aware that for those offended by full frontal female nudity, or indeed those that enjoy it, that there is a good deal of it in this film. (Lads, practise the excuse now: "But it's fine dear - - she's not a naked women… she's a robot!"). (If you enjoyed this review, please see the multi-media version at bob-the-movie-man.com and enter your email address to receive future posts. Thanks.)

Reviewed by Red-Barracuda 25th January, 2015

Very involving bit of pure sci-fi

A reclusive CEO of a leading technology company hires a young whiz kid who works for him to test his latest development, a highly advanced android called Ava. Specifically he is tasked with using the Turing test on her to establish if her AI is sufficiently convincing to pass as human. Despite contributing several scripts for the screen, this is writer Alex Garland's first directorial effort. It's a hard sci-fi movie which examines concepts and ideas above everything else. That's not to say it isn't dramatic or even thrilling because it is both of those things as well but the focus is squarely on the science fiction speculation, and this is a very welcome thing. The central concept that it examines is artificial intelligence. How we interact with AI as humans, as well as how a seductive machine could in turn manipulate us. The very well written script poses philosophical questions such as is there moral or immoral ways to treat AI. It also considers if sometimes part of being human is that we sometimes subconsciously want to be fooled by an illusion, if it is attractive enough. In many ways Ex Machina resembles last years Under the Skin. Both feature highly advanced female non-humans. In the earlier film Scarlett Johansson played an alien, here Alicia Vikander plays an android. While the very small cast all acquit themselves very well, it is Vikander who stands out in the film's most challenging role. It's a nuanced performance that captures the fine balance between the human-like and machine. Not only this but the marvellous special effects compliment this performance to create a very distinctive character. Aside from the effects, this is probably quite a modestly budgeted film, as the small little-known cast and limited sets suggest. But these restrictions have been used to the films advantage, as the unknown cast surprise more given little is known of them and the restricted setting gives off a claustrophobic feel which works well, while forcing us to focus in even more on the ideas being put in front of us. A scene setting ambient soundtrack additionally creates just the right off-kilter mood to accentuate the events. But it's ultimately the very good writing that underpins the success of this film. All-in-all, very impressive science fiction for those who appreciate the genre's more cerebral side.

Reviewed by chriscrudelli-220-144403 24th January, 2015

Writer Director Alex Garland is a powerhouse of talent

I rarely do this because there is so much rubbish out there but I'm going to recommend a movie. Writer Director Alex Garland has done an amazing job, it's beautifully shot, fantastically lit, intelligently written, brilliantly cast. the edit is original and brave, as is the direction of the edit, There is nothing superfluous, to the contrary it' has a sharp Zen like quality, clearly the application of a disciplined mind. The movie is's self is engaging, thoroughly watchable, the characters are simple and yet layered with complexity. The film strikes the perfect balance of not spoon feeding and not dumbing down but not being too arty or intellectual just for the sake of it. Best seen in a cinema I reckon.

Reviewed by Deathstryke 23rd January, 2015

Intriguing, unpredictable and tense

"Ex Machina" deals with a familiar theme in a very unique way. It doesn't bombard you with effects or superficial action (although the robot effects are exceptional). Rather, its focus and beauty lie in the subtle and nuanced performances of its tiny cast as the film explores what it means to be human. Quiet dialogue scenes between two characters are filmed in such an impactful, making them feel hauntingly austere, sweet and innocent, or terrible and frightening, through meticulous use of composition, light and sound. The film really does run the gamut of emotions, surprisingly funny one minute and gut-wrenchingly tense and weird the next, while the script twists and turns, constantly unsettling your assumptions about what will happen. The performances are excellent, most notably Alicia Vikander as the beguiling Ava, who absolutely passes for being 'almost human'. Her precise movements -walking, standing or stooping to pull on a pair of stockings- have just that slight tinge of the uncanny about them to suggest a mechanical skeleton, yet she is undeniably seductive. You can really understand Caleb's mental plight as she begins to show signs of a sexual interest in him! Domhnall Gleeson also delivers a quiet and focused performance as Caleb, which reflects much of the film's over all style. Like Ava, he is relatable, yet has this slight autistic aloofness about him, in complete contrast to the boorish, reckless Nathan (Oscar Isaac). The dialogue feels real and non-cliche. The pacing for the most part is measured, although one or two scenes might move a little slower than they need to. The ending probably will not satisfy everyone, and admittedly left me a feeling a bit cold, but it certainly didn't follow the route I was expecting. Overall I found it to be enthralling and disturbing stuff.