Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hey, I Saw a Movie! - Ex Machina

I'm going to do something a little different for now on. I don't want to do rambling reviews. Instead, I am going to do a one sentence synopsis, bullet points of thoughts and observations about the film and finally a brief overview of what I thought in general about said film. So, without further ado...


Ex Machina - Caleb, an employee of the world's largest internet search engine is flown to his employer's private home to help him evaluate a secret project involving artificial intelligence.


- Ex Machina seems like it could be the prequel to many classic science fiction films such as Metropolis, Blade Runner and AI. Okay, I'm not sure if AI exactly counts as being a classic, but you get my point. Ex Machina delves into the origins of machines interacting as humans with actual humans. As you can imagine, things don't go smoothly.

- Oscar Isaac's character Nathan, the creator of Bluebook and the android AVA, really liked his sex bots. Seriously, he revealed that he had installed an orifice with pleasure sensors! I think he spent more time designing the sex parts of the robots than the actual artificial intelligence!

- How did Nathan get his food? The guy lived in a house/research facility in a mountainous region in the middle of nowhere. The helicopter had to land a long ways away from the house and there are clearly no roads or towns around. Yet, the place was stocked with food including ingredients for sushi rolls and a seemingly unlimited supply of alcohol! 

- There seems to be a discrepancy when it comes to the level of technology in the movie. Nathan's home is also a high security research facility, yet in an environment where highly advanced projects in cybernetics and artificial intelligence were not only conducted, but succeeded, why does the research facility still use ID cards for security clearance? Why not have retina scans or thumbprint scanners or something involving DNA? It seems almost backwards. In fact, it really just seems to fulfill the cliche of stealing the card to see the forbidden rooms... which is exactly what happened.

- I do want to point out that aside from the mad scientist vibes given off by Nathan, I find it highly unlikely that one man can design an entire android with realistic human characteristics by himself. That means that he created the power source, the skeletal structure, joints, sensors, wiring, artificial flesh, eyes, the brain with the capability for artificial intelligence (something that by itself has taken generations to keep attempting) and a slew of other features. The level of realism and humanism displayed by AVA could not have been done by a single man, especially one in maybe his early thirties?

- For an independent film, Ex Machina had amazing special effects. It wasn't full of explosions, but where it was necessary, namely with the android AVA, the CGI was flawless. The film was a slow burn, a story that gradually became more complex and at times unnerving. The score definitely helped with that feeling of anxiety.

- The greatest strength of Ex Machina is that it delves into the idea of what it means to be alive. At what point does an intelligent machine cease to be just a machine? If an android with artificial intelligence is self aware, does it deserve the same rights to freedom and individuality as a human, or is it still an experiment that can be augmented or eradicated. 

- I am still waiting to see Oscar Isaac in a role where he isn't an asshole. Who knows, maybe Poe Dameron in Episode VII will be that role. Interestingly, Isaac will be in the new Star Wars with his co-star from Ex Machina, Domhnall Gleeson.

- In speaking of Oscar Isaac, there are times when his voice really reminds me of George Costanza's from Seinfeld. Am I the only one who hears it?

- I think all the primary actors did a great job with their performances. Gleeson has been putting out consistantly good performances in independent films like Never Let Me Go and Frank, he is becoming a fine actor. Alicia Vikander's AVA worked well. She worked mainly in a minimalist style, but with many complexities buried that gradually reveal during the course of the film. And while Oscar Isaac was once again given an antagonistic role, he really carried the part well. From the get go you wanted to like him, but there was always something a little off about Isaac. Maybe because he can be a little stand-offish, maybe he is a little conceited... maybe something more.

- Jonny Prophet wanted me to bring up that however much Oscar Isaac's agent is getting paid, he deserves more! Isaac has already been in many acclaimed films like Drive, Inside Llewyn Davis and A Most Violent Year. Beyond Ex Machina, which looks to be a sleeper hit in of itself, he will appear in Star Wars Episode VII and as the title villain in X-men: Apocalypse! Oscar Isaac's career is skyrocketing!


Final Thoughts - I really enjoyed Ex Machina. I went into the film with virtually no knowledge of what to expect and was delighted, and at times mesmerized by what I saw. If you are into thought provoking science fiction and not just stuff blowing up (You know, like original Star Trek versus current Star Trek), I would highly recommend checking this movie out!

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