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Ex Machina (2015, UK) ****

Ex Machina (2015, UK) ****

Ex Machina is a near-future Sci-Fi film, written and directed by Alex Garland, and staring Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac.
A notable film within today’s action-packed yet content-thin Sci-Fi genre, Ex Machina deserves praises despite being a mixed bag. Its shortfalls include the lack of a clear single theme as it packs many more questions than its 108 minutes can humanly handle. On the surface, Ex Machina addresses the pitfall of our exponentially advancing technology; one that enables us to create AI robots just because we can, without fully thinking through the ramifications. It thus comes across as yet another variation of the ancient Golem story; the rise of the machine(s). Many previous AI films occupied themselves with this subject matter, not the least of which was the Matrix, as well as the latest Avengers’ installment.
Then there is the topic of genius – what happens to a person who is too smart for his own good. Mix in a little love (can AI develop an emotional element?) dusting of sex, and top that with the classic Blade Runner’s theme of a machine inhibiting the very human desire for survival, and you get Ex Machina.
Aside of Alicia Vikander, whose acting is superb, the inexperience hand of first-time director Garland is felt through the performances of the two male characters, especially in the earlier part of the film. They come across as a little too stiff, even though that significantly improves midway through the movie.
Kudus go to the art direction and the film’s overall style that is both current, yet futuristic, and includes a Kafkaesque feel to it. Garland reportedly preferred to produce the film on a relatively low budget ($13mm) to enhance its creative force, and if this is the results, his approach worked.
All in all Ex Machina is a film worth watching. It packs in intelligence, style and questions that we should be addressing. AI is no longer a near-future possibility; with home automation and the soon-to-arrive the Google car that drives itself, that future is already here.

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