Caleb, a 26 year old coder at the world’s largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world’s first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Corey Johnson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
Runtime: 108 min, Rated: R, Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Released: 24 Apr 2015
Me and Lay saw this at AMC at Westshore Mall about two weeks ago. It was kind of a last minute decision, but was well worth watching. We both found the movie intriguing and thought-provoking.
I think what I found most refreshing is that “Ex Machina” deals with a familiar theme in a very unique way. It doesn’t bombard you with effects or superficial action (although the robot effects are exceptional). Rather, its focus and beauty lie in the subtle and nuanced performances of its tiny cast as the film explores what it means to be human.A young nerdy programmer Caleb (Domhall Gleeson) receives a mail that he has won some big coding contest. We see that his face is being unknowingly scanned by his webcam and phone cam. As the prize he gets to spend a week at his company’s (Blue Book) CEO’s place, which is a luxurious estate amidst beautiful mountains. CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac) tells Caleb it’s not a home but more of a research facility. The facility is modern and sleek, the rooms have no windows and you have instant claustrophobic feel about it. Nathan tells Caleb he is there to perform a Turing Test on his creation, Ava (Alicia Vikander) an incredibly advanced A.I. Robot who looks lifelike with skin on her face . Caleb is as stunned as we are watching Ava. She is able replicate human-like behavior with extreme precision and can perform lie-detection based on micro-expression on our faces!! She is charming as well and we see Caleb & Ava growing fond of each as they interact every day as part of the test. Everything is monitored by Nathan through CCTV cameras. Things seem smooth until one day Ava tells Caleb not to trust Nathan when cameras are shut by power cut. From here on the story takes an unpredictable turn, there is no clue who is right and who is wrong or who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist.
The film explores various concepts such the meaning of consciousness and self-awareness, it questions your ethical viewpoint and blurs effectively the line between the human mind and AI. Are AIs truly the next stage of human evolution? Is singularity possible? It explores in these regions in great depth at the same time leaves some things open for interpretation.
This is a suspenseful psychological thriller, an excellent sci-fi movie, and a thoughtful look at a possible future. Alicia Vikander does a great job, and the entire cast, small as it is, does a great job, and no one is who they seem to be. There are only three (maybe four) main characters in the film, and the setting is a claustrophobic sterile, mostly underground compound. The camera work is beautiful, and combined with the mostly piano music soundtrack, does a great job of setting the atmosphere.
If there are downsides, it is that you won’t like the ending, and there are some minor “holes” I noticed when the technology is discussed…but they are very minor.
Watch this movie, it’s weird, it’s suspenseful, it will suck you in, and it will make you stop and think.