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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
Tags for Ex Machina Full Movie
, Corey Johnson
, Domhnall Gleeson
, Oscar Isaac
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