Friday, September 25, 2015

Movie Review: Ex Machina (2015)

Ex Machina (2015) written and directed by Alex Garland

Computer programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a lottery at work (the big internet search engine company, though of course it isn't called Google in the movie). The prize is to visit the reclusive founder and owner of the company (Oscar Isaac) on his remote estate for a special project. The owner's name is Nathan and his home is actually a research facility where he has been working on artificial intelligence. He's built an android named Ava and wants Caleb to give it the Turing Test (the one where a person has a conversation and has to determine whether the other conversant is a human or a robot). Something fishy is going on, because Ava is clearly a robot and Nathan is very casual and imprecise about the feedback he wants from Caleb. Nathan and Caleb have interesting discussions about consciousness, human attributes, and what the end result of the week-long experiment is supposed to be; Caleb and Ava have interesting conversations about their histories and what it means to know someone and care for them, both as a friend and with romantic intentions.

A lot of interesting issues and ideas are introduced in this movie. The pacing is slow and the photography is beautiful, giving the viewer plenty of time to think about what's going on and consider the contrast between the idyllic natural setting of the remote estate and the antiseptic artificial setting inside the research facility. The conversations and the narrative are always fascinating and left me with questions I really wanted answered. A lot of those questions were answered. But the end of the film is strangely ambivalent even while some highly dramatic events occur. It's as if the filmmakers themselves have a casual and imprecise grasp of what they want to say with this movie. Maybe they just intended to present an interesting story. If so, they were successful but I find myself unsatisfied after watching it. Repeat viewings could make it seem better or worse, I honestly don't know.

Parental warning--there's a lot of female nudity in the film, a little bit of sex and a few conversations about sex; some drinking and drunkenness; a bit of swearing and a few moments of bloody violence. With all the discussions about AI and what constitutes human behavior, I can't really see people under 15 enjoying the movie. I'd recommend late teens and up as appropriate for watching this, though I am not sure I'd recommend the movie itself as entertaining. It makes a better talking point for various issues and ideas.

1 comment:

  1. One of the best sci fi pictures of the new millennium. Destined to be a classic, it explores AI, the ethics of of creation, consciousness and conscience. Moody in design and execution it evokes epic themes through subtleties and understatement allowing the viewer to write him or herself into the script. Don't miss it, sci fi fans!

    Info site for Seattle Water Main Break Service