Directed by: Alex Garland Written by: Alex Garland Music by: Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury Cinematography by: Rob Hardy
Premise: Winning a vacation prize at work, Caleb gets to travel to spend a week with the company's founder, recluse, and programming genius, Nathan, at his private estate. But when Caleb gets there, he's told he's there for something else as well. He is to be the tester of Nathan's latest creation. He will be helping to prove, one way or the other, if Nathan has created a true Artificial Intelligence. (Rated R)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Domhnall Gleeson made the perfect foil for Nathan and his test. The character Caleb is like an eager puppy, and Domhnall portrayed that, and some of the later changes, beautifully. Oscar Isaac also did some great work - he was totally creepy and hard to read as the recluse Nathan. Sonoya Mizuno was fab as Kyoko - the longer you watched her the more subtext she conveyed - nice. But it'll be Alicia Vikander that'll steal your heart and soul. She's fantastic as Ava. Tons of lovely facial expressions and nuances. Especially during her transformations - very nice.
(And both Domhnall and Oscar are going to be in the new Star Wars film! Sweet!)
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The special effects in the film are not grandiose or flashy, but this just makes them ever so much more effective. The blending of Alicia and the CGI for Ava's body was fantastic. Much like Chappie in the movie "Chappie", Ava looks real in every way, and you believe she is an android, her body slimmer than a real girl's would be since it is missing a 1/2 layer of skin.
Ava's glowing innards and all the shiny metal and parts were just too darn cool. Loved the small peek we got into the fabrication area, too. The partially liquid brains were awesome!
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The film is more of a thought provoking thriller than an action film. Hubby thought from the previews it would be more action packed than it was (as it had minimal action) so it might be something to keep in consideration when deciding if it is for you.
Between the unusual setting, Ava, and all the weird vibes the audience will get from Nathan, the film moves along nicely and will snag the audiences' interest. Several roads of posibilities are presented, and you're never quite sure which one is the real one. So that was nicely played. There were a couple of good twists as well.
Unfortunately, right at the end, they bailed. Hubby and I stared at each other after the credits finished, our minds rolling in confusion. A trick is used by one of the characters. Yet five minutes later, this trick is totally forgotten about and leaves one of them in a situation that really did not exist. There's also a choice made by Ava that clashes with what she shows seconds later. She had no audience, so no reason to fabricate what we see unless it was real. Yet, if it was real, she would not have made the previous choice. So it left a bad after taste and gave us the impression the ending had been tweaked - and not well. Dark endings are fine, but they should also have substance...
It was also really weird that the reclusive owner of a vast empire and creator of this magnificient technology only cooked, spied, drunk, danced, and exercised the whole week. It was bizarre never once seeing him do anything actually techie. o.O
4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The countryside encompassed by Nathan's vast estate was gorgeous. A lof of the house was filmed in different areas of the Juvet Landscape Hotel - and they couldn't have picked a cooler venue. The main room alone, inside a sandstone hollow and covered in glass, was utterly amazing. (Reminded me of one of my homes in Minecraft. :P) Add in the waterfalls, woods, and other lovely views in the protected land area, and the perfect place for science and nature to meet was brought to the screen.
Conclusion: Ex Machina is a disturbing little psychological thriller with some amazing CGI work. The ending doesn't entirely jive, but the film is worth watching for the fun cat and mouse game between the pricipals as well as the location, acting, and CGI.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full of Admission)