Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Movie review: Ex Machina

Programmer Caleb wins a weekend getaway at his boss's Alaskan compound with hopes of being mentored. In reality he was selected to evaluate the human qualities of a humanoid A.I. named Ava whose beauty and intelligence soon have him treating her more like a human than android.

Domhnall Gleeson (Caleb), Oscar Isaac (Nathan), Alicia Vikander (Ava), Sonoyo Mizuno (Kyoko), Corey Johnson (Jay), Claire Selby (Lily), Symara Templeman (Jasmine), Gana Bayarsaikhan (Jade), Elina Alminas (Amber).

Ex Machina begins well enough by launching right into the plot as Caleb wins the weekend getaway with his boss contest. Arriving at the Alaskan compound Caleb finds that in reality he was recruited to evaluate the humanity of a female android A.I. Without giving spoilers, the rest of the film is an interesting journey as Caleb gets to know Ava, eventually engaging with her as human. While this may sound like a bland plot, some wonderful twists and forced paradigm shifts in the film are quite entertaining. The film is completed with a somewhat unexpected finish.

Acting was enjoyable with Vikander doing exceptionally well at somehow delivering both emotion and emotionless performances throughout the film. Gleeson played well against Vikander and also presented nicely. Isaac was interesting and developed good depth with his character and performance. Mizuno was enjoyable and fit nicely, as did the remainder of the supporting cast.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were good even if the film was focused primarily in a single house. From a technical perspective however the real star here was the CGI and costuming. Android animation was very well done with a solid feel which helped elevate the film quite a bit, yet at the same time animation was somewhat understated appearing as incidental rather than the focus of the film. Dialogue was pretty good but a bit more depth and exploration of the characters would have been nice. Sound and soundtrack were both good.

While Ex Machina may look like the typical A.I. versus humanity struggle, there is a bit more to the film. The few twists and turns while slow to appear do add nice depth to the film. Die hard sci-fi fans should enjoy this one while those desiring more intense action may be disappointed.

With some nudity, sexuality, and violence this should be fine for older teens and above.

Released: 2015
Reviewed: 2.23.16
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Sci-Fi Dramas, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Drama

copyright ©2016 Dave Riedel

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