D: Alex Garland
Universal/DNA/Film4 (Andrew MacDonald & Allon Reich)
UK 🇬🇧 2015
W: Alex Garland
DP: Rob Hardy
Ed: Mark Day
Mus: Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow
Domhnall Gleeson (Caleb Smith), Alicia Vikander (Ava), Oscar Isaac (Nathan Bateman), Sonoya Mizuno (Kyoko)
It's been a good few years for sci-fi movies with an intelligent, thought-provoking edge, following the likes of District 9, Moon & Never Let Me Go. Ex_Machina is no exception, blending elements from the stories of Frankenstein, Blade Runner & Her for a unique viewing experience. It also has to be stated that the title itself is a stroke of absolute genius, but unless you know screenwriting lingo, this may just fly over your head (watch the film before googling).
A young computer programmer wins a contest which allows him to spend the week at his CEO's high-tech, remote home, which also doubles as a top secret research facility where the eccentric technology expert has been working on female cyborgs with a high artificial intelligence quota.
It is the young computer programmers task to perform a "Turing test" on the robot to determine whether 'her' responses are legitimately human or just appear to be and report his findings to his boss. Before long, he develops feelings for the machine, which appear to be reciprocated, but soon discovers the inventor's ulterior motives for inviting him to his subterranean retreat.
Alex Garland makes a successful leap from novelist & screenwriter to film director with this refreshing spin on the "mad scientist" sub-genre, utilising a talented cast to give believable performances. The visual style of the film is also fantastic, with remarkable production design, photography and special effects which are a marvel to behold. The electronic score by Portishead also deserves an honourable mention.
The story does become a little dark in its final scenes and there are a few paradoxes in the plot which may leave your head in a tizzy, but this is a thinking man's sci-fi which is well worth a watch.