Ex Machina (2015)

Trailer: Ex Machina

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Directed by:  Alex Garland

Runtime: 1 hr 48 mins

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi, Drama

Review by:  John Dixon

Spoiler Free Review: (read if you have NOT seen this movie)

Caleb is a programmer (Gleeson) that works for a Search Engine company and is chosen to be a tester of sorts to assist in a project to verify Artificial Intelligence.  Nathan (Isaac) needs a person to come in fresh and go through specialized testing to find out if his created A.I. can be considered 100% believable.  Is anything really alive without flesh and bones?  Is Nathan just using Caleb in his own testing?  Your questions will be answered don’t worry.  Although I wasn’t a fan of the ending, this movie engaged me and wouldn’t let go.  I was thinking on many different levels as this movie was going to try and figure out the end game.  I loved the plot and it did seem predictable at times.  Either that or I got real lucky calling some things.  Oscar Isaac & Domhnall Gleeson prove that they are going to be forces to be reckoned with in the coming years.  Alicia Vikander makes a breakout performance (can I say that with 19 acting credits under her belt prior to this movie already?) as the AI and comes off not robotic and quite human.  Very old school Sci-Fi driven and one heck of a watch!


Spoiler Filled Review: (read only if you HAVE seen it and don’t care about spoilers)

I was blown away by this movie.  I love when movies make me think and this movie did no less.  What happens when you create the perfect A.I.?  Do you just move over and let it evolve or do you try to control it and make it better?  Questions are answered here but still leaves you with the question that you pose to yourself.  What would you do? Theoretical Ethics class begins now!  If I could build an AI I would.  But I would definitely put into place Asimov’s 3 Laws of robotics.  1.  A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.  2.  A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except when it conflicts with the first law.  3.  A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.  These laws would have resolved any problems Nathan & Caleb had regarding uprising.

Let’s start with the setting.  We start at Isla Nublar aka the Island from “LOST”, aka I’m only kidding.  Really, the location and setting play a huge part in what you end up feeling throughout the movie.  Alone.  You are alone here.  The locking features on the doors and the extreme nature hike you would need to take will make you feel anxious to get out.  One of the many things added to this movie to make you feel anxious in a non-thrilling movie.  Okay, there was some thriller-y parts but it’s not committed to them.  The score added to the intense anxious feeling you get while watching.  A lot of loud crashing sounds in the score.  Reminiscent of 70’s-80’s sci-fi.

The plot itself is written pretty simply.  It is a step up though in terms of what Alex Garland has written thus far in his career.  28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd are some of the credits to make your own judgement.  This plot and story line was pretty predictable.  My wife called the “who’s causing the power outages”.  I called the “He is testing the tester” theory.  I also called the “Kyoko is a android” thing way before it was revealed.  I really hope you saw my spoilers declaration above.  I did not call the ending of the movie.  That was one twist I was not expecting.  I like how Nathan explained in detail the level of in depth programming he did while standing in front of the Pollack painting.  In lay-mans terms he said that if he programmed “Love” then it would be a simple emotion.  1 dimensional.  What he did instead was to program everything that surrounded the emotion so that Love would come naturally.  It seems that he got that wrong in the end.  I also like how Garland threw in there the Heterosexuality as not being a choice.  

The overall feel to this movie has a creepy overtone.  The immediate friendship of Nathan is comforting and yet off-putting at the same time.  The special effects were very simplistic and I like the “cost cutting” idea of throwing clothes on the models.  The bodies felt real enough so they did their job there.  Also, I wasn’t 100% on how that skin worked.  I would like to have had a brief discussion on that.

I will probably watch Ex Machina a few more times in the coming years to see what I missed before.  The ending is my beef.  I don’t like that Nathan was murdered by his own creation.  Seemed plausible enough though.  Didn’t Ultron (from Avengers) once say that “Everyone creates the thing they dread”.  I will continue.  I don’t like how Caleb was just left to die.  When did Ava have time to reverse his programming (when the power goes off the doors open).  Shouldn’t they have shown that?  I wanted some closure on him but didn’t get it.  Are we getting a sequel?  Who knows.  Outstanding movie.  Not so outstanding ending.




Comic Book Connection Oscar Isaac – X-men: Apocalypse
Nudity Bonus Alicia Vikander – Full, Sonoya Mizuno – Full, Gana Bayarsaikhan – Full, Claire Selby – Full
Favorite Moment Any of the sessions.  Each one is good in its own.  I can’t pick one.
Most Hated Moment When Ava leaves Caleb.
THIS Movie reminded me of THAT Movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.  More-so the score and overall creepiness to the film.
What did my wife (Tiffany) think of this movie? I really liked this movie. It was really easy to follow without being over your head smart but still has you thinking what’s going to happen next. And who doesn’t love a movie with a robot?! In all seriousness I would recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting keeps you on your toes drama with a touch of sci-fi.
Box Office Budget $15,000,000.00
How much it made Domestically $25,423,377.00
Was it a Box office Success? Or Failure? Success
Did you notice? 1.  That Gleeson & Isaac are going to be in Star Wars: The Force Awakens together.
2.  Nathan’s Estate is mostly real.  As seen in a Vanity Affair article Here.
3.  Go watch “About Time” for another good movie with Domhnall Gleeson and for Oscar Isaac go watch “Inside Llewyn Davis“.
Rotten Tomatoes Score
Critics 92%
Audience 86%


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