*The last paragraph expresses short analysis* Surprisingly, this is one of the creepiest things to come out this year. Is it creepier than the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer mashup with Steve Buscemi? That's sort of a grey area, but maybe. . . just maybe. . .
So what's this creepy film about? One day a highly skilled computer programmer named Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is picked randomly among his company coworkers to get the chance to experience a weekend at a beautifully remote, technologically advanced cabin where the CEO of his company resides. There we meet the CEO, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), and learn that he has invented something beyond extraordinary in his seclusion. It appears as if he might have a created a sentient AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander). It is up to Caleb to decide if this is truly the case of sentience and whether the prospect of destroying this lovely machine is something worth considering to achieve something greater. That is where our cat and mouse game begins.
Films like this are made all the time. The only thing is... not really... Sure, we deal with AI to an excessive amount. I could list the countless properties and stories, but that would be exhausting. So, why is Ex Machina any different? Why is it worth seeing?
For one, there are very few films out there that are acted as well as Ex Machina. Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander are to blame. All of them are superb, but let's begin with Oscar Isaac. The dude has acting CHOPS! Every film he is in he continues to impress. In Ex Machina he excellently plays the reclusive billionaire CEO who may or not be the villain. His intention and purpose is vague to say the least, but through the intricate script and his ridiculously nuanced performance we are able to see so much deeper than previously expected.
Domhnall Gleeson is also superb playing the unassuming, charming geek who has more depth than you'd imagine. His interactions with all the other cast is brilliant, but particularly the time spent with Alicia Vikander playing Ava is what makes the film. These two have chemistry for miles. She is the muse of the film, providing that unnerving sexual energy and gravitas that is more than impressive. It is reminiscent of an another unknown, Sarah Gadon, who shows that just because almost no one knows who you are doesn't mean you can't compete with best actors in the world.
Furthermore, Avengers: Age of Machina - oops, I mean Ex Machina: Age of Ultron. Sorry, got something else on the mind. What I am trying to saying is that the visuals in the film are on par with the best of the best. The remote location, surrounded by exotic wilderness, coupled with the sleek, beautiful technology, makes for something awe inspiring. The director of photography just seems to know how to capture it in the perfect light to make this film all the more seductive and creepy.
The way the eerie creepiness and mystifying sensual energy truly grow is what brings this film to life. They only continue to grow in tension till the end. The only issue that I see a casual moviegoer having is the slow burn pace. This is not to say that scenes don't bleed into each other well, or it is boring. On the contrary, Ex Machina walks this line well enough. I would say it missteps only once, but it is brought back, all the way to the finale. With the use of an eerie, intense musical score, and the situation that is at hand, we are given a breathtaking experience.
This brings us to the film's primary issue. I'll try not to spoil anything. What I will say is that (and you can skip this paragraph if it gets a little too intimate) the ending ends up bringing everything down under the weight of that gratuitous slow pace and excessive display of explicit, erotic imagery. Even though it doesn't end up quite working the way I think the director hoped, it still raises some phenomenally deep thoughts - even if this is unintentional - on an area that is plaguing our society.
When it is all said and done, Ex Machina is so impressive in many respects that it is confusing when it comes to putting a tangible rating on it. My rating on the film has varied more than possibly any movie I have ever reviewed. Even if I don't think it is quite as good as it means to be, I can't stop thinking about it. The imagery is just so gorgeous and the fleshing out of brilliantly acted characters is intriguing to say the least. All of this is placed on top of a landscape that is already so rich with thought provoking ideas, with such a cool premise and set-up, that I can't help but give it such praise - even if it is more than it probably deserves.
Personal Preference: 4/5
Critical Analysis: 4.25/5