Ex Machina (2015) Review

The concept of A.I. has always fascinated humans; will they overtake us one day?  Will they ever truly be just like us?  I wonder if there will ever come a day when A.I. becomes so good that they will be similar to humans, yet face A.I. rights issues, much like racial issues of the past and present.  Nonetheless, we humans are intrigued at the possibility of true A.I. coming to fruition, but we are also terrified of the idea of robots being made so perfectly that we no longer will be able to tell that they in fact ‘not human’.  Ex Machina explores these issues, but at times, there is a disconnection between the characters and the audience.  Let’s discuss.

Ex Machina focuses on Caleb, a young programmer who wins a company contest to visit the home of the company’s CEO, Nathan.  To his surprise, he arrives at Nathan’s home to discover that it is actually a research facility whereby Nathan has been secretly working on creating true A.I.  The real reason that Caleb was invited to Nathan’s home was to be a part of a series of Turing tests with the A.I. that Nathan has built and hopefully have the A.I. pass; if this is possible, it will mean that Nathan will have in fact built A.I. so good that human beings will no longer be able to distinguish the difference between A.I. and a true human being.  The movie focuses heavily on these tests that Caleb and the A.I. named Ava go through and also looking at Caleb and Nathan’s relationship.

I was very intrigued by the concept of the story used in this film; however, the character development was slightly lacking.  For starters, Caleb’s character was rather bland and gave the audience very little reason to care about him.  I’ll be honest, I had a hard time remembering his name after I left the theatre.  He was the main character in the movie, yet he was a very bland and boring character with a very forgettable personality.  Nathan’s character was rather eccentric and certainly gave the audience more than Caleb did, but I found myself not caring about him either.  Although the concept was interesting, I really didn’t care about the characters or what happened to them.  If something happened in the film, good or bad, it would produce very little reaction out of me, and it is simply because the characters were just plain and forgettable.  This is unfortunate because the concept of this film is incredibly interesting and there are times when the feeling of the movie changes from intrigue to terror, and yet the audience is left with a bland taste in their mouth.  Hey, the characters in Ex Machina aren’t horrible, they just aren’t really memorable, and that is a problem in a movie like this.

Another thing I was a little disappointed with was the pace of the film.  It seemed to move fairly slow and built itself up to a highly suspenseful moment that didn’t last very long.  It would have been more interesting for the audience if the suspense was more spread out throughout the movie.  I remember a moment where something incredibly tense happened and I thought, “Why hasn’t the whole movie been like this?”  Ex Machina was advertised on the basis of it being a creepy A.I. film with suspense and thrills, but this truly is not the case.  Let me back up a bit by saying that despite the lack of suspense, it was still an interesting movie; it just could have moved a bit faster.  I wanted to be on the edge of my seat, but I found that I was at the back of it for most of the film.

Graphically, this movie does an excellent job at using CGI to create ‘Ava’, the A.I., who is almost ‘half built’, as she appears to have a true human face, but has robotic characteristics (ie. a robot-like body without flesh).  I was very impressed by the realism of the effects to create the look of Ava, and nothing looked fake or outdated.

Music wise, the score fit the film very well, it just wasn’t that memorable.  Composers Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow were definitely going for the ambient Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor sound that is popular these days, and they did a wonderful job of establishing the creepy environment that the movie was set in.  It is incredibly ambient in the sense that it feels more like sound combinations than melodies, but that is okay in a movie like this.  Eerie sounds with slight synth in a remote underground facility with a robot that wants out and can’t?  Yes, you have your score.

Overall, I would say that Ex Machina was a good movie and it is worth seeing just for the concept alone; however, it was a tad slow and the characters just weren’t that memorable.  The problem with that is if something good or bad happened to them, you felt apathetic towards whatever happened.  What was going on may have been exciting, it’s who it was happening to that was the problem.  The good thing; however, was that the movie’s concept and story were memorable, which makes the movie on a whole rather lasting.  Ex Machina is definitely deserves a watch and you can decide for yourself if you care about Ava, Caleb, and Nathan or you more or less just care about the story on a whole.  You decide.

Image Credit: https://borgdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/ava-from-ex-machina-borg.jpg

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