Like some scifi? Then Ex-Machina is the movie for you! Normally I stay away from movies that look scary but the more I read about Ex-Machina the more I saw it is actually more a movie like Kubrick/Spielberg’s AI than a horror robot movie. In fact, it’s better than AI.
It’s about this guy named Caleb who works for a popular search engine and wins a prize to visit the company’s reclusive founder named Nathan. He has a compound only accessible by helicopter (and not even that. You have to then hike by a river to get to the house).
Evidently Ex-Machina was shot at a hotel in Norway. I want to go to that hotel. It was amazing! The exteriors were lush and green. The interiors were cold concrete with frosted glass but with a lighting that reminded me of those happy sun lights you can buy for depression. It was different than anything I have seen in these types of movies.
Once Caleb gets to the compound he meets Nathan who creeped me out because he looks a lot like my older brother (who is also a CEO of a hipster company with a shaved head and long beard! Even some of his way of speaking reminded me of my brother. Creepy!). Oscar Isaac is great as Nathan who is brilliant, arrogant, drunk, stupid, charming, psychopathic and naive. It makes me excited that both he and Domhall Gleeson, who plays Caleb, are going to be in the new Star Wars movie!
It turns out Nathan has brought Caleb there to test out his robot called Ava to see if she is a viable AI. We then get a series of experiments over Caleb’s 6 day visit. Caleb begins to bond with Ava and we see more into the mind of Nathan.
I don’t want to be accused of spoilers so I will leave the plot at that. The ending for me was a bit of a letdown but overall it is a very satisfying movie. It is shot very well. The characters are complex and it looks gorgeous. The lighting in every shot was as good as I’ve seen in a movie in years.
I know comparison is silly but I couldn’t help but think about another recent Kubrickesque picture Interstellar which also has a robot albeit of a more vintage style. They are very different films but I think I still prefer Interstellar because it had me more emotionally engaged. I really was drawn into Murphy’s journey in a way I never was with Caleb. Interstellar had a wider scope of emotions and I didn’t know what was going to come next. Ex-Machina is pretty predictable.
As a sci-fi movie should, it tries to ask bigger questions about reality of being, sensuality, evil, creation etc and it does that pretty well. I might have pondered those questions more if I was more emotionally invested in the characters but it definitely made me think.
All the performances are good and Alicia Vikander is haunting as Ava. I also liked the design of the robots with the clear fronts and sparkly heads.
That said as a sci-fi thriller it was very well done. It’s creepy, weird without cheap jump scares or unnecessary gore. You might know what is going to happen but it is a very entertaining journey to get there and again it looks so beautiful. The pacing might also be a little bit slow for some less seasoned film-goers but I was engrossed
As far as content there is some cussing but I didn’t find it excessive. Some people will be offended by the nudity but because it is robots and not sensual it felt more like Greek statues to me than actual human nudity. There is a scene where a character slices their arm open which is tough to watch. I’d say it is a strong R and adults only but I wasn’t offended by it. I strongly recommend checking out http://www.screenit.com before seeing it to know if it is the type of content you are comfortable with.
Overall, I think Ex-Machina is a very good movie. It’s cinematography, visual style, set design, and the design of the robots are outstanding. The performances are good especially Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander. The story is classic sci-fi even if it is a bit predictable especially the ending. I wish I was a little more invested emotionally in the characters but it is still a movie worth seeing and enjoying.
Overall Grade- B+ Content Grade- C-
Any of you seen it? What did you think?