Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Week 8: Ex Machina

Writer/Director: Alex Garland
Seen: Sunday 22nd February 2015
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Homemade smoothies
Mood: Wondering 

 The science fiction genre is often teeming with concepts and technologies that will most likely never be conceived, like time travel or planet colonisation. However, Ex Machina serves up a concept that is not only conceivable but closer than many of us think. It examines the possibilities of A.I (artificial intelligence) and how close it can get to actual human tendencies.

Caleb played by Domhnall Gleeson is perfectly cast as a coder at Blue Book, the world’s largest search engine, whose life is about to change dramatically due to a very special prize he has won. It is a mysterious trip to the estate of Nathan the CEO of the company he works for, the high tech facility that Nathan lives in is contrasted with the beautiful surrounding forests and waterfalls.   Nathan is played by the versatile Oscar Isaac, who creates a character with an arrogance that only one of the richest men in the world could have and although at first he seems affable and friendly towards Caleb, it soon becomes clear that he has a hidden agenda.

Caleb is there to complete a Turing test on an A.I that Nathan has created which Alicia Vikander superbly plays and for me, it is the stand out performance of the three. The Turing test is to figure out if the A.I or Ava as it’s named, shows the ability to portray consciousness. While the test seems straight forward it is the beginning of few very interesting days for the trio.

This is Alex Garlands first feature as writer/director, although is no stranger to  futuristic themes as he penned 28 Days Later & Sunshine both directed by Danny Boyle. After watching the ascetically pleasing and thought provoking Ex Machina, Garland is certainly a director I will be keeping an eye out for.

While the film examines the possibilities of A.I and how close it can replicate human behaviour, in doing so it also examines human behaviour, our desires, our vulnerabilities. Ex Machina is an attractively shot stylish film that creates a futuristic setting that is very believable and the three main performances are strong.  This is a film we nearly missed in the cinema but I am very glad we didn’t.  

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