In order to describe the basic plot of Ex Machina, I have to attempt to describe it as an opening monolgue from Rod Serling. Close your eyes and picture Mr. Serling saying these words. Well, don’t close your eyes. You won’t be able to read it.
A young programmer, by the name of Caleb, just received an opportunity to learn from his employer on his private estate. This newfound privilege allows him to be at the very precipice of the technological future. Yet, his perspective about what it means to be human is about to be challenged as he meets Ava, a highly advanced being of artificial intelligence. As Caleb studies this robot, he feels that there may be more to this experience than a scientific study of androids. He may merely be the pawn in this chess game so commonly played…in the Twilight Zone.
Fans of The Twilight Zone or its descendant, Black Mirror have plenty to love in Ex Machina. It balances the fear and hope for technology and utilizes it in a very human and simple story.
This was #10 on my list of anticipated films of 2015 and it does not disappoint.
By now, you should know about Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) and Domnhall Gleeson (About Time). You certainly will become more familiar with them through their roles in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In Ex Machina, Isaac plays a megalomaniac search engine CEO, who happens to have a research facility in the middle of nowhere.
Domnhall Gleeson might be the most relatable star out there. As Caleb, he is unassuming until a breaking point, where he realizes that his nagging paranoia might be justified.
Their costar, Alicia Vikander steals the entire movie. She is clearly a rising star at this point. Ava’s motivation is to pass the Turing test, which means that, beyond her robotic exterior, she could communicate and emote as any human would. This test is not only for Caleb to decide on, but for Ava to find self realization.
This is the type of cinematic science fiction that has been needed. It’s not just a movie about robots, nor does it cater to action movie expectations. Instead, writer/director Alex Garland (writer of 28 Days Later, Sunshine) delivers a cerebral experience that is purposely icy and unnerving. The entire experience feels like Stanley Kubrick directed a story by Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov.
In a world where the implausible-in-every-way Furious 7 can make a billion dollars, Ex Machina is a breath of fresh air. It shows the signs of a lasting movie by actually sticking with you long after you walk out of the theater.
I loved Ex Machina. It provided an experience of pure escapism, where I tried to guess where the plot was going, but had to stop myself so I could enjoy how it unfolded. A-