After being released early into 2015, I have only just recently watch Ex Machina. This was a film that I had heard nothing but greatness from and often heard many people ask why there was little to no Oscar hype surrounding it.
Ex Machina effects you on a mental and philosophical level that for me personal has only happened with a handful of films. Similarly to the 2013 film Her, Ex Machina really has you thinking about the possibilities of our future inventions and the idea of interaction with no living objects. The closest thing we have to that currently is Siri, and the best it can do is tell you that the Cookie Monster has eaten all the cookies.
The overall story of the film was basic but was extremely effective in conveying the theme and philosophical impact that it is trying to portray. The story is essentially 4 main characters, two of which are Artificial Intelligence or AI units. Creator of the AI, Nathan, brings in Caleb, an employee from his company, to test a certain AI on her ability to be have a human conscious rather than simulating one. At an hour and 40 minutes, this is by no means a long film but I often find that the ones that do effect me in the same way this did often, do not reach the 2 hour mark. The pacing of the film I thought was great and I liked how the broke the film down into individual days, similarly to how it is done in The Martian.
The acting in this film was fantastic. Within a year, both Domhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac have produced fantastic performances in 2 of my favourite films in recent years. The dramatic change I felt between their portrayal of their Star Wars characters and the ones they play during this film is amazing. As Gleeson and Isaac play the only 2 humans characters in the film, it was important for connections between the audience and them to be formed and they were. Gleeson plays the very curious yet intelligent Caleb while Isaac plays the genius yet intimidating Nathan.
Alica Vikander also plays an outstanding AI. Vikander plays the AI Ava and as an AI she had to portray a scenes of human nature whilst still presenting an underlining tone of robot like features. She managed to portray this greatly, mainly through her tone in which she spoke. There was always a sense of calmness which stood out when she was conversing with Gleeson’s human character
One of my favourite aspects of this film however was the visual effects. Through the effects, they were able to create the AI units body whilst still including the face of Vikander. Their bodies looks very technical, and were designed in a way which makes your start to think that something of this appearance could easily fit into our everyday environments.
There was one moment however which I am still undecided about in this film. In the last part of the film, Caleb plans to help AI Ava escape from Nathan’s house where she is being tested on. He lays out a plan into how he will do it and Ava agrees to do her part. What really makes me unsure of how of feel towards this part of the story is that I didn’t see and ethical answer to why Caleb was choosing to do this. As an audience we are shown how Caleb begins to care for this AI and when he finds out that Nathan will erase her memory in order to improve her capabilities he decides to break her out. For a while it appears as though this was how the story was going to end and I really hated that it was heading in that direction. I started to question the rights Caleb as a character had to steal and stop an inventor from continuing his research and work into creating a seamless AI unit. What really made me unsure about this moment though is the ending that actually did happen. It is revealed that Nathan knew that Caleb planned to help Ava escape and the testing as a whole was not to test Ava’s AI ability but instead to see if she could provoke emotion in a Caleb and using him as a way out. When this was revealed I really questioned if the feelings I felt of the original plan were written in that way so that those feelings were intending.
In the end, Caleb reveals that he knew the Nathan would know about his plan and therefore implemented it the day before so that there was nothing Nathan could do to stop him. This then causes Ava to escape and kill Nathan along with another AI unit in the house. The plot however is flipped again which a I really loved. When Ava is escaping she traps Caleb in a room where he can not escape, evidently using him as her escape route out of Nathan’s house, which was the original test to begin with. In a weird way, the last part of the film comes full circle as the ultimate purpose of the testing we had viewed for the last hour is revealed and the AI unit Ava not only passes but is able to outsmart and free herself.
Ex Machina – 9/10