As a Top 10 candidate for the year, Ex Machina proves that there are still original ideas.
We have to be close to the end of so-called original work with science fiction featuring artificial intelligence. If not, we can cross off one masterful piece of work right now: The human-falling-in-love-with-artificial-intelligence-with-a-twist.
Ex Machina is everything a science fiction film should be, but with a little more. The story follows Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the creator of an artificially intelligent robot, a.k.a Ava (Alicia Vikander), and Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) a programmer who is a bit too lonely and has no people skills. Long story short, Caleb falls for Ava and Ava falls for Caleb. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, there are films out there that follow that premise. Fortunately for Ex Machina, none of the other films have a platter of special effects this sophisticated and beautiful. By the time that Caleb arrives at Nathan's estate, Ava only has a human face while the rest of her body is a mix of futuristic glass tubes and what seem to be kevlar chest plates.
Director Alex Garland orchestrates the story perfectly. Garland knows when to turn the tables on a character, and how to place tension in scenes that would otherwise have no tension in reality. The film takes place on an isolated estate, with few characters, and long dialogue sequences that typically explode your philosophical mind-hole. Mix that with the best dance sequence of the decade, and you get lost in a film about choosing sides, deception, and naivety. Each and every moment is provoking and complex, but Garland's perfect dialogue keeps the film humorous and fast-paced.
In an ambiguous reality, Garland doesn't fall into classic film tropes of who the clear-cut villain and hero are. He leaves that up for the audience to decide. Garland's use of characters is mesmerizing on its own, with Nathan's character being a metaphor for a human race that is constantly destroying and rebuilding itself.
As a hard piece of science fiction, Ex Machina generalizes worldwide, becoming a perfect study on the human mind and the future humanity faces. Garland creates a masterpiece that is the perfect mix of art-house and mainstream. It's unfortunate that in a week this film will be nothing more than a distant memory.
Good Qualities: The dialogue, character development and tension are some of the best so-far this year.
Bad Qualities: This should have been released in the Fall of 2015.
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