Title – Ex_Machina (2015)
Director – Alex Garland (feature debut)
Cast – Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac
Plot – Computer programmer Caleb (Gleeson) wins an employee raffle that will see him get to spend a week at the home of his reclusive tech genius boss Nathan (Isaac). Upon arrival at Nathan’s home, Caleb soon realises that not everything is as it seems as he is introduced to Nathan’s latest project, Ava (Vikander), an A.I creation the pushes the boundaries of what is real and what is not.
“I am become death, The Shatterer of Worlds”
Review by Eddie on 12/05/2015
Nail bitingly tense, terse and most importantly thought provoking, well renowned British screenwriter and author turned director Alex Garland’s incredibly competent feature debut is one of modern cinemas most memorable and original Sci-Fi’s, a film that you sense will be oft discussed in years to come thanks to its wealth of questions asked and a heralding in of the era of young actress Alicia Vikander.
While Ex_Machina deals with the old aged staple of A.I and the pitfalls of it and what it means to be a human, not a machine, Garland operates his tale with a pinpoint accuracy that mines tension and intrigue from the films first frame to its last and creates a small scale vision that feels entirely in a world of its own. Garland’s vision is a sight to behold and his direction is not far removed from the works of greats such as Kubrick, while Machina largely takes place within the confines of reclusive tech genius Nathan Bateman’s stunningly designed home/ research facility, there is much visually wonderment to be found wherever you look. From the beautiful surrounds of the wilderness outside, the handle-less rooms that operate Nathan’s lavish digs through to the flawless design of Ava the artificial being at the centre of this cautionary tale, Garland has created a small scale yet undeniably impressive universe that manages to mix the smarts, the visuals and the performances into one.
Filled with heart and humour (a trademark of Garland’s works) Ex_Machina features what will be one of the years most accomplished trio of acting turns with well-rounded and pitch perfectly played acting turns. In another sign that he is quickly becoming as good as his father, Domnhall Gleeson plays kindly tech guru Caleb with the right amount of smarts and heart while his scenes with his upcoming Star Wars co-star Oscar Isaac are brimming with underlying motives and tension suggesting that their pairing in this year’s space adventure will be a sight to behold. Isaac shows off a dark side to his growing screen powers and his Nathan is in equal measure sad and dangerous and while the two leads excel, they along with the film itself pale in comparison to Vikander’s star making turn.
With a beguiling beauty and a truly remarkable ability to possess the charms of a human and the persona of an artificially created living entity, Vikander’s Ava is without doubt one of the year’s most stunning creations in both a CGI sense and characterization sense. Ava’s “sessions” with awe struck Caleb may be purely dialogue driven but it’s here that Garland’s study of the not too distant A.I advancement comes to its greatest fruition and it’s in no small way built almost entirely on Vikander’s turn, as Ava is hers through and through, thanks to motion capture abilities. While it’s some time off one would hope that Ava see’s Vikander find just rewards come awards season but Ex_Machina may be slightly to left of centre for the sadly outdated and out of touch Awards ceremonies that dominate the industry.
While it’s not flawless, some motivations and scenarios remain somewhat underdeveloped or questionable; Ex_Machina is a stunning Sci-Fi vision that is also a fully formed thinking man’s thriller. With a jaw droopingly good turn from the soon to be megastar Vikander, Ex_Machina is another excellent example of what makes the Sci-Fi genre such a harbourer of thought provoking classics and further proof that Garland is one of the most consistently good storytellers working in the industry today.
4 and a half dancing showcases out of 5