Friday, September 11, 2015

Ex Machina

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Prepare to feel sexually disturbing thoughts about a robot.

Ex Machina – 5 out of 5

This was one of those movies that had me at the trailer and all the critical acclaim it gathered.  However, I still couldn’t bring myself to see it in the theater because I am very, very stingy with my money when it comes to seeing films in the theater.  Yes, I’m a film nut who reviews every movie he sees on a blog that only a dozen people pay attention to but it doesn’t change the reality that going to the movies is expensive and even hitting the theater on a 5 Dollar Tuesday gets second guessed when it comes to deciding whether to see a movie or paying the gas bill.  However, if my TARDIS was operational, I would travel back in time and try to convince myself to eat Ramen noodles for just a few days and see Ex Machina in the theaters.  However, I know me and I bet I would fight future, post-Ex Machina me and then that me would have to make a second trip back to the future to another post-Ex Machina me and tell him to don’t bother travel back to try and convince me to see it and just travel back and see the movie in the theaters.  Then, the two future me’s will go to the theater together and have a good time until the more future-y me suddenly gets erased from history because the younger future-y me went and altered the future and rendered the more future-y me non-existent.  And, on that note, I hit the synopsis…these types of pointless babbling might be why I get the readership I do.

Yep, that's probably the look you have after reading that mess I just typed.

At one point, Ava turns into Carla Gugino.
Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is a simple programmer for a popular search engine when he suddenly finds himself the winner of a contest that involves him spending an entire week with the company’s CEO; the brilliant creator Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac).  Quickly, he’s whisked away to Nathan’s secluded estate and he finds himself in a home that is built like a bunker and has the security of Fort Knox with a techno-hard on.  State-of-the-art security and ostentatious wealth are not the only surprises that Nathan has for Caleb as he introduces him to Ava (Alicia Vikander).  Ava isn’t human but an advanced artificial intelligence that Nathan decides to have Caleb test to see if she is truly consciousness or a computer that pretends to be.  Soon, Caleb finds himself falling down the rabbit hole of madness as he begins to fall for the robot and question his own reality and what constitutes being human.  Matters only get worse when Ava confides in Caleb and warns him to not trust Nathan…

If I told you not to look at the white spot on the top of Oscar Isaac's head, would
you not look at it?

There’s nothing about Ex Machina that didn’t work for me.  The story is deep without being pretentious, the plot is perfectly layered and laid out that it makes you believe one thing for a majority of the film and then throws a complete curveball at you during the final moments, the visuals are incredible, the music is eerily perfect for every scene and the performances are absolutely fucking fantastic!  

Dat robo-ass!  Wait, she's completely self-aware...I'm sorry for objectifying you, Ava.

This film is perfect and I absolutely mean it.  The work seen in it feels like it was crafted by a seasoned pro but was actually the directorial debut of writer/director Alex Garland.  The man has already proven to be an excellent writer after he wrote 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Dredd but his work behind the camera looks like it came from a man who has spent decades perfecting his art.  The way Garland is able to express confusion, pain, panic and even terror that comes from questioning a person’s place in the reality of the world around us is excellently played out in the visuals.  The cold and mechanical look of Nathan’s home, the colors that surround and entomb the characters in this home, the contrast of the vast estate Nathan owns and how small it makes the two isolated men look when debating what constitutes consciousness is really driven home with these visuals, the lighting and camera movements.

Gawd damn, Nathan has an awesome house!

Sci-fi is a fantastic genre that always offers up nice “What if’s?” and brings about fun and fantastical things for the entertainment experience and a possible look into our future as a species but deep Sci-fi that plays on philosophy isn’t seen very often and too often when it does come around to say “Hi” it is usually too complicated to comprehend without spending all your viewing time contemplating and not having an emotional connection to the characters you are witnessing or are the movie equivalent of that guy everyone knows who likes to brag he “doesn’t own a TV” because he thinks that makes him smarter and more cultured than you (this movie doesn't come off like a cocky, snobby dick, is what I'm saying).  Granted, there is Sci-fi out there that’s smart and not arrogant about it but, still, they are rare.  Ex Machina is one of those rare ones.

Wait, Nathan has a glacier on his property?!?  He has everything!

The story offers up some intriguing ideas of what it means to be human and whether or not an A.I. can reach that level of consciousness but it is not only doing this but it is doing it in a way that connects you to the characters.  You feel the connection that is formed between Caleb and Ava, you become unsettled by Nathan’s secret agenda in the project and you fear for Ava’s safety and pine for her to be set free and live her life.  Flat out, you come to care about these characters and it makes all the themes, motifs and items of debate that Garland’s story is delivering to you that much stronger and intriguing.

They're in this amazing film and they're both in Star Wars Episode VII:  The Force Awakens?!?
These two might be the coolest dudes in the world.

Garland did a tremendous job of making characters that felt authentic and had depth to them but this dynamic is made even more amazing thanks to truly incredible performances by Gleeson, Vikander and Isaac.  The film is quickly able to establish who these characters are and what they're about without the need to explain to the audience and you get everything about them by what you are seeing with them and how the actors play the parts.  This is truly a testament to not only the actors and how they were able to convey the depth of their characters but an acolyte to Garland’s writing and directing.  He never had to resort to telling the audience and, instead, showed you who and what these people are.  He left the telling to when Caleb and Nathan would discuss Ava’s intelligence and the conversations between Ava and Caleb when they were getting to know each other.

The special effects that brought Ava to life are frighteningly realistic...I'm just going to assume
that Alicia Vikander is a real robot.

Ex Machina is a feast for the senses and a perfect example of a smart, thrilling Sci-fi feature that never gets too over-the-top and never underestimates its audience.  It perfectly combines terrific writing, killer visuals, emotion-inducing music and great acting to create a film that is intriguing, intelligent, occasionally humorous, kinda sexy and a bit unsettling.  It's a truly killer and fantastic film that I will, no doubt, hold dear to my heart and my collection for years to come.

And the movie has a dance sequence!  It has everything I could want!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.