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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Ex Machina | Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander | Review

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5sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT Judy Thorburn

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5lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is EXCELLENT


Ex Machina

As the human species has evolved, so has man's quest to create artificial intelligence that can think, feel, and be self aware. Essentially, that translates to man playing God, and as we have all seen, at least in movies, that has never turned out good.

Alex Garland's beautifully crafted, Ex Machina (derived from the latin phrase “deus ex machina” which translates to “god from the machine”) explores the subject of artificial intelligence and what it means to be alive and human.

The story kicks in as 26 year old computer programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson, the son of actor Brendan Gleeson) discovers that he has won a competition conducted by his boss, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac, “A Most Violent Year,” “Inside Llewyn Davis”) the inventor of Blue Book, a Google-like internet search engine. Caleb's “prize” is an invitation to spend a week at Nathan's remote mountainside high tech underground research facility where the reclusive, eccentric billionaire lives and works.
Before revealing the top secret project he has been working on, and how Caleb fits in, the shaven headed, heavily bearded Nathan has Caleb sign a non disclosure agreement. As the human component in a Turing Test (named after The Imitation Game's real life subject Alan Turing), Caleb's job is to interact with, what Nathan describes as his/the greatest scientific creation of all time, an artificial intelligence machine, in a series of sessions, and give Nathan feedback in order to determine whether it possesses genuine human consciousness.

Nathan has purposely constructed the A.I. (Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, The Fifth Estate) as an alluring female named Ava, who is partially covered in metallic mesh-like skin and has a see through mid section. Thanks to the amazing team of special effects wizards, the CGI effects are seamless and totally convincing.

It is no surprise that Caleb soon becomes attracted both emotionally and sexually to Ava, whose angelic, humanoid face, soft voice, feminine, seductive ways and intense curiosity about the world, the single, lonely young man finds captivating and irresistible.

The inevitable question arises as to who is actually being put to the test. Nathan is a brilliant, but hard drinking, arrogant man who enjoys playing God as well as possible head games with his young employee. Meanwhile, Ava, who is able to create power cuts in the facility so she can talk with Caleb without being observed on camera, tells Caleb not to trust Nathan and that he is not his friend. There are also more than just hints that Nathan is a misogynist who clearly takes pleasure in controlling his astounding female creation and his beautiful, mute, Asian assistant Kyoko (Sonoyo Mizuno), who is... well, I won't divulge that.

Writer Alex Garland (28 days, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go) makes an impressive directorial debut in this compelling, visually stunning, well acted sci fi thriller that gradually builds suspense and tension as it evolves into a horror tale. The three principle actors are all terrific, but Vikanda is a standout, turning in a breakout, pitch perfect performance as the highly advanced, smart and mysterious female robot that is trapped behind the sterile walls of a place from which she desperately wants to escape.

Sleek, stylish and thought provoking, Ex Machina is one of the best sci fi thrillers to hit the theaters in years.


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