Ex Machina (2015)

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Ex Machina Review

Ex Machina is a 2015 indie science fiction film directed by Alex Garland and starring Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson. It is one of the smartest films ever to come from Hollywood about robots and is a pleasant surprise by all means.

Ex Machina follows Caleb who comes to meet a science genius Nathan in his secluded house in order to study his A.I. and determine her capabilities using the Turing test. The plot is incredibly smart and very engaging and even riveting throughout the whole running time. It is thematically fascinating with many superb and thought-provoking subject matter and themes explored here beautifully. You have the theme of humanity, human versus robot, what it means to be human and how smart and aware of itself A.I. has to be in order to be deemed a person. But I found the theme of sexuality greatly explored here and very realistic. Everything presented in this picture seems very grounded and is something that some time in the future really could happen. The approach is really fantastic because the movie is filled with fascinating and thought-provoking, incredibly smart and riveting discussions and dialogues with almost no action whatsoever which sets it apart from blockbusters and shows its indie sensibilities and how truly phenomenal indie sci-fi films can be.

The characters are really well developed here. Caleb as the protagonist is a but unlikable to me, but he is very well realized and he definitely shows his moral compass in his relationship with Ava. Nathan is also very well acted and realized and he somehow possesses a creepy screen presence, but the filmmakers thankfully never fully vilified him. Ava is of course the highlight here with a very touching story, likable personality and although she is not fair to Caleb in the end, you can fully understand her behavior and her resolution is beautiful beyond words. There are no major characters apart from those three here and a couple of more robots, but that is terrific in my opinion because usually films are crowded and filled with too many needless characters and this movie shows that you do not need a big cast in order to tell great stories.

The film, like ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’, shows how in order to be bad or evil, you have to be really smart and that is the test that determined Ava’s intelligence here the most and I found it enthralling. It is subtle, but that aspect to the story is definitely present. Although it is a bit too emphasized, the sexuality aspect is also very well explored in terms of ethical dilemma and moral principles. But the humanity aspect is wonderfully explored here with the ending being incredibly beautiful and touching because it shows how Ava really wants to be a person, to study humans, to see the sky and trees and to do everything humans do. It is a very strong conclusion that couldn’t have been better.

Ex Machina is definitely not perfect owing to a couple of reasons. First, the overemphasis on sexuality factor is present and it should have explored some other themes more. Also, the movie’s running time should have been exponentially increased because it is very ambitious and one hour and 45 minutes is certainly not enough for this kind of thought-provoking story and that can easily be seen in some parts that seem very rushed, especially the beginning which is quite abrupt and the final act which is a bit too fast-paced compared to the rest of the picture.

Technically, Ex Machina is marvelous. The directing from Alex Garland is absolutely fantastic and stupendous for a debut. The editing could have been better, but the acting is quite good with quite solid performances. The visual effects are magnificent, especially for a low-budget film. And the production design as well as the imagery and sound effects are all superb. And it is, along with being fascinating and smart, sometimes also very tense due to some riveting intense sequences which is a reason why it can be called a thriller as well.

Ex Machina has excellent effects and sound, truly beautiful conclusion, some intense sequences, terrific directing from Alex Garland and it is filled with a plethora of really smart and thought-provoking themes beautifully explored here making it one of the smartest science fiction films in a while and an indicator of how phenomenal indie sci-fi can truly be. Its running time should have been exponentially longer due to the film’s evident ambitiousness and that is seen in a bit too fast-paced third act and abrupt beginning, but all in all, Ex Machina is a pleasant surprise, a film that is incredibly smart and wonderfully executed thanks to superb discussions and dialogues and it should prove enthralling for anyone interested in this fascinating subject matter.

My Rating – 4.5

 

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