EX MACHINA Movie Review
Alex Garland, famed screenwriter of such fantastic movies like 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Never Let Me Go has returned with a brand new movie to mess with our heads. Ex Machina is his latest movie and this time around Garland will also be directing. Garlands been known for giving us extravagant and well layered stories but he’s not immune to failure. He may have been a part of the outstanding team that brought us 28 Days Later, but he was also part of the team that brought us 28 Weeks Later, an unnecessary sequel which was laden with cliché driven characters and some poor dialogue. How will Ex Machina size up? Check out our review and find out
Ex Machina dispenses with any kind of setup as our protagonist Caleb(Domhnall Gleeson) finds out he won the first prize at his company lottery. He’s then sent off to what seems like a country/continent owned by his companies CEO, Nathan(Oscar Isaacs).On his arrival he finds out that actually he’s going to be part of a revolutionary test with an A.I named AVA(Alicia Vikander). From the second Caleb lands on Nathan’s country/continent there is this incredible tension that is a constant element throughout the whole movie. I found that I could never relax, between Vikander’s vulnerable but oddly disturbing portrayal of AVA to Gleeson’s shy and broken Caleb, I couldn’t just let the story happen. I found myself constantly questioning every character’s motives, every session with AVA, every little bit of information Nathan gave Caleb. This is both a good and bad element of Ex Machina as it an intriguing watch but at the same time felt frustrating and emotionally and mentally exhausting. If I could compare it to anything it would be akin to an episode of Black Mirror, but the message of the movie is far more subtle in its delivery.
What adds to this constant sense of unease is the cinematography which is absolutely fantastic. From the opening scene of Caleb’s journey over the beautiful country/continent to the sessions with AVA, not one scene is wasted. The scenes, the set up and the unnerving soundtrack adds all the atmosphere you could ever need, so how do the characters stack up? Well Caleb is the usual kind of protagonist of this sort of Sci-Fi, he’s the guy asking all the “nice guy” questions so he’s a little predictable, this also the same point for Nathan. He’s this creator of something new and beautiful but he has a dark side to him which is all too obvious from the get go, but there is some hidden elements which make him a much more interesting character. Then there is AVA, stunning and enigmatic. Thanks to Vikander’s portrayal, AVA is an almost completely unreadable character. You’re never sure of her motives and it adds even more tension to the movie. Ex Machina hits a lot of the usual beats of movies which deal with A.I and for the most part its pretty pedestrian. The ending however is unforgettable and I’m still reeling from it.
With some great cinematography, a deliciously disturbing digital soundtrack and a stunning ending, Ex Machina is almost perfect. Sadly some okay performances and a clear awareness that it’s an “Art” movie brings Ex Machina down. If you love yourself some Sci-Fi with a deep conscience then get out there a see it.