December 10, 2016
Review #884: Ex Machina.
Alicia Vikander (Ava), Domhnall Gleeson (Caleb Smith), Oscar Isaac (Nathan Bateman), Sonoya Mizuno (Kyoko), Symara A. Templeman (Jasmine), Elina Alminas (Amber), Gana Bayarsaikhan (Jade), and Tiffany Pisani (Katya) Directed by Alex Garland.
Ex Machina is certainly an interesting movie in so many ways. The first component is the atmosphere set up quickly in the film, which is this high-tech (and obviously reclusive) residence, with some shots of the residence and the environment around it that show some form of isolation. There is a small dedicated range of characters that also help to that feeling, and they are excellent. Vikander does a good job at giving this character some sort of life and you do sympathize with her in some part. There really is no sort of definitive hero kind of character, as everyone seems to have sort of hidden edge to them, even with Gleeson's character, who comes off as somewhat of an everyman with his own kind of desires to exploit, and he plays it well. Issac is the only real clear cut type of character a bit easier to define, in part because of his reclusive nature, and without spoiling too much he does a good job at portraying this narcissistic kind of person, carrying the dialogue without a shred of unbelievability. The dialogue between Issac and Gleeson also contributes to the tone of the film being more than just a case of a Turing Test, with Vikander and Gleeson having a fine amount of chemistry as well. Mizuno doesn't have any lines, but her performance is noteworthy in its own way because she still manages to have a kind of presence even when in the background. The effects are also pretty good in that they seem to mesh with the film without becoming too distracting, with the robots being a good case of that. It's a tightly made film, with no real compromises but a good deal of consequences and stakes. The ideas it presents have touches of influence from other concepts (Frankenstein might be a good example), but it is done in a way that feels fresh and works in an acceptable manner. It's good entertainment, but it's better pondering material as well, especially with the ending. I recommend the movie, in part because of what it does with what it is given, with a cast and execution like this.
Overall, I give it 9 out of 10 stars.