Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is ecstatic that he has won the employee lottery. As his co-workers congratulate him he is whisked away by a helicopter to a secluded location, an underground mansion/laboratory where he meets his reclusive employer Nathan (Oscar Isaac).
Nathan has created the ultimate artificial intelligence in the robotic form of a young woman, Ava (Alicia Vikander). Caleb has been invited to administer the Turing test, whereby an interview takes place to see if the AI can be distinguished from human intelligence. With the subject being an advanced robot, Caleb’s interview will take some time, getting to know Ava. He’s excited for the opportunity.
Ava, having only ever known Nathan, seems genuinely pleased to meet Caleb. When power outages in their lab allow for a respite from Nathan’s observations, Ava and Caleb discuss a secret problem that will have to be addressed: Nobody’s bothering to consider what Ava wants.
We say, “Ex Machina is looming, subtle, simultaneously vague and involving.”
TAYLOR: Ex Machina hasn’t come to our theatres, but it will soon be made available to you and having enjoyed it, I thought we should tell you about it.
I didn’t realize that I liked it right away. As I watched it, I kept creating expectations that were not met. After a while I began to wonder what was going on. This movie isn’t telling me anything, it’s just hinting at things and I have to fill in the blanks. Then I realized, as the pieces of the mystery started to cavalcade into place, this is the subtext of the film exemplified. It’s about defining what consciousness is. The world for Ava is the underground lab where she’s only known two men and some other robots. She, like all of us, take our worldly experiences, the hints they provide and fill in the blanks with thoughts about them. Ava’s blank slate just so happens to be filled in with the common goal of any caged being, the results are chilling.
HOWE: I thought this was going to be a robot sex movie… It’s not. It is an interesting and thought provoking story of what makes us human. It is one of the most interesting films that I have seen in a very long time and I loved it. From the opening scene it had me hooked, maybe because it had me scratching my head asking what is going on and wanting to know more. Couple that with some very good acting from the three main actors, the cinematography which is beautifully captured, and a soundtrack that sounds like it’s from a Carpenter movie. To me it’s an instant hit.
If you are looking for something a little different, a little strange, then you can’t go wrong with this sci-fi thriller.
– Taylor gives Ex Machina 4.5 summer dresses out of 5.
– Howe gives it 4.5 vodka shots out of 5.
Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon.