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Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander
Directed by: Alex Garland
It’s amazing how far technology has come isn’t it? 50 years ago, if you said to someone that you’ll be able to have a phone small enough to carry around in your pocket they would say that you were crazy. Artificial intelligence has yet to be mastered. The Japanese are making headways with it but to have a robot which can feel, detect emotion and engage in an intelligent conversation has yet to be achieved. Will it be achieved? Anything is possible I guess. Ex Machina gives us the viewer an insight of what is possible if that advancement of technology was achievable.
Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is a talented computer programmer who wins the chance to spend the week with Nathan (Isaac), the CEO of the company in which Caleb works for. Nathan’s home is secluded deep within the mountains with no other human contact around him. There’s more to this competition than meets the eye. Nathan has been hard at work and Caleb finds out that he has to participate in an experiment involving a new brand of artificial intelligence. The robot’s name is Ava (Vikander). She’s so advanced it’s mind-blowing. She’s able to have a full on conversation, display & detect emotions and has a whole range of talents. She’s perfect. However, there’s something about Nathan that Ava wants to tell Caleb but with Nathan keeping an ever present eye on the house with CCTV camera everywhere, will Nathan’s shady plans ever be reviled?
Ex Machina deals with a familiar theme in a very unique way. It doesn’t inundate you with effects or superficial action (although the robot effects are exceptional). Instead, it focuses on the beauty which lies in the subtle and refined performances of its small cast as the film’s main message is all about exploring what it means to be human. The performance of Alicia Vikander is worth the price of the ticket alone. The way she portrayed Ava reminds me so much of Jeff Bridges’ performance in Starman. She must have used that film as inspiration or research. I don’t know much about her career so I can’t compare this to her past work but she’s only 26 and she’ll continue to grow as an actress I’m sure. Keep your eye on her, she’s a future star. Gleeson and Isaac also have their moments too.
Now the ending took me by surprise. I have my theories as to why it ended the way it did but I’m obviously not going to post it here as I don’t like posting spoilers. It did leave me feeling cold though I admit and didn’t follow the route I was expecting it to.
Overall, It’s an interesting twist on the old favourite “Frankenstein’s Monster” story and a thought-provoking take on human nature.
Rating: ***** (Top of the pops)