Archive: Ex Machina (2014) A Review

This film earned Alicia Vikander a bunch of award nominations and got an Oscar for special effects.  A great cerebral Sci-Fi movie, but a very, very slow burn.  So bare with it.

Certificate: 15

Director: Alex Garland

Screenwriter: Alex Garland

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 108 Minutes

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Not a Sci-Fi film in the classical sense, but more of an intellectual movie that has some Sci-Fi elements thanks to the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence.  If you want Sci-Fi with space ships and explosions and pulse rifles, your are barking way up the wrong tree, but if you want to see something that is going to make you think, and pretty hard, then this is a film for you.  Fans of films like 2001: A Space Odyssey will feel right at home here.

Caleb has scored the assignment of a lifetime.  He is flown to the head of his corporation’s top-secret mountain estate, to evaluate the validity of his newest invention.  He claims to have created the first fully sentient and operating Artificial Intelligence.  But Nathan is hiding something and Ava, his creation, is trying to warn Caleb.  Or is there a more sinister motive behind her befriending him?  Is she truly sentient enough, to have hatched a plan all her own as a means of escape?

This film is superbly cast, and a good job too, as the three main characters played by Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Issac have to carry the entire story by themselves, as there is very little (read none really) supporting cast.  So their performances have to be top notch, because there is no-where to hide.  Thankfully, they all do a fantastic job, Vikander in particular is radiant as AI Ava.  This role got her nominated for a bunch of Supporting Actress Awards in 2015, but sadly she missed out on actually taking one home.  A shame, as her eerie and captivating performance here is definitely worthy of it.  I almost feel like her character, being arguably the focus of the film, was given too little to do and the ending would have been better served, if she would have had a larger presence earlier in the film.

This is a very character driven plot, as there really is extraordinarily little in the way of plot going on.  Which does mean that at times the film could begin to feel a little slow.  I didn’t find that to be true, and enjoy my Sci-Fi a little more in depth and well explained than your average space battles and alien prosthesis.  But I can understand how for some, the lack of action could cause the film to seem boring, and at times I did wish they would speed up the pace just a little.

The end while not what I was expecting exactly, did begin to make itself apparent after Oscar Issac all but gives it away half an hour before the credits actually role.  And that is always disappointing with a film that aims for a What the F*** ending.

A really good, intelligent Sci-Fi film for people who aren’t afraid to try something a little different in the genre.

Ex Machina is available to stream now on Netflix UK.

1 Comment

  1. I agree, the ending felt inevitable. It trapped us and made us hope that it wouldn’t happen. I thought that was a powerful and appropriate way to end it considering the ideas present in the film.


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