FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: On the last Friday, and last day, of July 2015 I sat down to watch “Ex Machina” which stars Domhnall Gleeson (Unbroken, About Time), Alicia Vikander (Seventh Son, Testament of Youth), Oscar Isaac (The Bourne Legacy, Inside Llewyn Davis), and Sonoya Mizuno (Venus in Eros, Beauty and the Beast ). It is written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later…, Sunshine) and it is his directorial debut. A young coder named Caleb (Gleeson) who works at the world’s largest internet company for their search engine wins a contest to spend a week at the company’s CEO, Nathan’s (Isaac), reclusive mountain research facility. Nathan has kept to himself for the longest time, coming up with the next big thing and his workers have been dying to see his invention. Once Caleb arrives he finds out that Nathan’s project is none other than an A.I. that is self-aware and acts human in every way. Her name is Ava (Vikander). Nathan has created this contest so that whoever wins, they will be subjected to conversations with Ava to test how human she is. What started out as a by-the-book series of tests in Caleb’s head for Ava turns into so much more when he discovers just how much “human” she is, leading him on a dangerous path.
I’m a sucker for a sci-fi movie. It is my favorite genre not only because of the vastness of stories to tell, but because of how in-depth you can make them. This film is no exception. One thought that came up in my head, and it will be the overarching lesson of my review, is that this piece of cinema is really the embellishment of what is sci-fi. To go further into that statement, I’ll start by saying that there are many sub-genres that consist in the sci-fi genre. For example, you have action/sci-fi, which is the usual favorite by popcorn watchers because of its fast-paced, try-to-get-to-the-goal scenarios. They offer fantastic fight scenes and are usually dealt with in an apocalypse. The “War of the Worlds” from 2005 starring Tom Cruise is an example of this. But, what burdens these types of films is how much of the development of reason or dialogue to further exploration is taken up with those action scenes I have mentioned before. I will say, I did love “War of the Worlds” though. Why am I talking about this? Well, I’ll get to my point: there is another sub-genre in sci-fi that I have made up, which is called the “deep thinker’s sci-fi.” There are movies, quite like this one, that reach into your head and shake your brain around. It immerses yourself into a situation that takes a lot of reason and intellect to comprehend and it is fantastic because so much thought can go into it, and usually it ends up making you think for a long period of time afterwards. On the top of my head, I can’t think of a film like this with deep thinking. I remember “Oblivion”, another Tom Cruise sci-fi, had me thinking a lot afterwards, but it can also fall into the action sub-category. This movie will give you chills and make you lean back in your chair, take a deep breath, and try to comprehend the future. With that said, onto the film itself! For starters, the plot was intriguing. I’ve heard of and seen quite a bit of films about smart A.I. (great ones include “I, Robot” and “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence), but this one was different. It had a fresh, new feel to it. I think what makes this film so captivating are the emotions that go into. Sometimes there won’t be any dialogue, and you will have to go by the person’s facial expressions, and because of the spectacular acting you can feel what they feel at times. Speaking of acting, everyone did a fantastic job. I didn’t see actors once in this movie, but their characters. Every character has their own personality and as interesting as they were, their interactions were even more fun. I give big props to Oscar Isaac for he played a man who you can really grasp as a character in terms of the way he acts, however what he says can make it all the more unpredictable and chilling at times. Because this is a deep thinker’s sci-fi, there is no action whatsoever. There is a little smidgen of it at the ending, but it isn’t really anything (which will bring me to one of my cons). It relies heavily on dialogue and boy do they succeed. Every session Caleb had with Ava was genuine and seeing it build was incredible. I could just feel myself slipping into the scenes. For that, I will say that this movie kept a steady pace, not dragging one bit for me. As you explore this facility Caleb is in, you see everything from his eyes, and the more the story develops, the darker it seems to get. That goes along with how chilling this movie is the more you think about it. Things change-up you throughout, with the cinematography suggesting a different direction in story, but then things stay on course. I loved it because no one had to explain anything to me, I just knew from the directing. Because of all of this, the ending provides two twists. Yes, two. It isn’t confusing, but it does make it scary and bone-chilling. Gosh, I can’t tell you how much this film made me think “what if this ever happens in the future?” This goes to show that Alex Garland did his job, and did it rather well. Before I go to the issues I found, I want to say that the special effects in this film were just as real as anything. You can tell by the poster for this movie that the special effects department took their time. Anyway, onto the cons. I found two issues with this film. The first was how the ending, mainly the small action scene, felt stupid. I won’t spoil anything. The execution of this “action scene” just looked dumb and I could feel my eyebrow raise because with all the seriousness that I was put through, this felt like a joke. Hopefully those who are reading this and have seen this understand what I am getting at. Finally, the last con would be how uncomfortable this movie can get. There are certain scenes, which give it its rated R rating, that just make me feel wrong in watching it. It only happens towards the end of the film and very few spotted areas otherwise. Thankfully it didn’t take up the whole movie. Overall, this is definitely a movie to have a deep conversation about with your friends because of its inquiring of A.I. and the future. It is firmly a fantastic piece of sci-fi and I am sure any of the lovers of the genre will find it as intriguing as I did. I recommend anyone wanting a deep thinker of a movie to watch this if they are the right age! FINAL SCORE: 93%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: