Ex Machina

April 26, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment
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Artificial Intelligence has always been one of the hottest sci-fi topics, from “2001: A Space Odyssey” to last year’s “her.” This year, we are seeing a return to the classic AI franchise, Terminator, and even The Avengers are getting in on the game. With all of this noise: good, bad and otherwise, it’s hard to imagine there’s much of value another AI movie could offer. Yet, “Ex Machina” is unique.  Filmed almost entirely in Norway and taking place in just one large house, the film focuses on just four actors, two men and two women, as it explores issues of morality, compassion and sexism in a cat-and-mouse guessing game of who’s going to outsmart whom. Written by Alex Garland (“The Beach,” “28 Days Later,” “Never Let Me Go”), the script is razor sharp from start to finish; this near future world is entirely believable and beautifully rendered. In this first directing role, Garland shows an eye for the aesthetic. The scenery, both inside and outside the house, is stunning. Likewise, the technology is elegant and beautifully rendered. The first time we see a close up of the AI’s face, I was struck by how Garland had managed to make it look slightly less realistic than human skin, almost plastic-like in its smoothness and perfection; that’s a little detail that goes a long way for me. The story was a bit slow to take off but, once it did, it had me fully engaged and trying to guess the twists and turns; I almost never did. There is also sly social commentary here, often very cleverly presented. I love a scene that is complex enough to evoke two alternating emotions and, here, there is a brilliant dance scene that is both funny/silly while being deeply creepy at the same time. Make no mistake, this is a film with a lot going on just below it’s very pretty surface (and there’s a metaphor in that, as well).


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