Movie Review: Ex Machina

Movie Review: Ex Machina

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? It’s wonderful, it has great character arcs, it has one of the best dance scenes I’ve ever seen, the visual effects are out-of-this-world, the score is perfectly in sync with the film and the AI aspect is incredibly well developed. Needless to say, I liked it. I liked it a lot.

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I want to start off by saying that I’ve been pronouncing the title of this movie wrong since I first read it. I’ve been pronouncing it Ex-Machine-A when it should be pronounced Ex-Mauck-In-A. I was actually really surprised with myself because I watched Appleseed Ex Machina when it came out in 2007 (I was a huge anime fan. I still am, I just don’t get around to watching it as often as I used to) and I’m usually the one teasing other people about mispronunciations. Anyways, I was humbled and hopefully my embarrassment will help you avoid looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

For those of you that haven’t seen it (I feel like I’m the last person in the world to have seen it), Ex Machina is about a young coder named Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) who is invited to the secluded mansion of the CEO of his company. When he gets there he meets the CEO, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), who tells him that his purpose for coming is to perform a Turing Test on a robot that he’s built that he claims has AI. The robot’s name is Ava (Alicia Vikander). A Turing Test tests a robots ability to demonstrate behaviour that makes it indistinguishable from a human; it is the true test of artificial intelligence. As the plot progresses and Caleb tests Ava through their conversations, it becomes apparent that she is more than a mere machine. Nathan has created something truly extraordinary.

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Throughout the film there is a sense that something isn’t quite right; things are not as they appear. Β There is an underlying tension in everything that is done and a feeling that there is a double meaning in everything that is said. This film is written and directed by Alex Garland, who in my eyes, is a genius. He also wrote Sunshine, which is one of my favourites, and he wrote 28 Days Later, which was a pretty formidable entry in to the zombie genre. Ex Machina was his first stab at directing and I think he hit it out of the park. The subtle nuances throughout the film and the incredible clarity of direction that this film has makes me very excited to see what he will do next.

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A review of this movie wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the astounding performances of the cast. Vikander was incredible as Ava. Every look, every movement was calculated, yet there was a clear burgeoning emotional intelligence in her. You could almost see her thinking and plotting and, although you wanted to believe that she was sincere, there was something sinister in there as well. Gleeson and Isaac played off each other wonderfully, the visual cues of light and dark accentuating this dynamic. There was so much going on that wasn’t explicitly stated and these actors took all those cues and ran with them. They really deserve a lot of praise for the story that they helped create.

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All the production elements were so well done. The CGI, the lighting, the set design, everything worked together flawlessly to created a beautiful movie. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from a sci-fi. Along with horror, this is my favourite genre and all the aspects of this movie came together to create an movie experience that won’t soon be forgotten. This is one of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year. Give it a go and let me know your thoughts.

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To finish this review off, here’s a clip of one of the best dance scenes I’ve seen in a long time. Also, I love Caleb’s face in this clip.

Life goal = learn this dance.


SPOILERS AHEAD – Do not read this if you haven’t seen the movie

I found the ending to be the perfect conclusion to the movie. It proved that, at the heart of it, she was still a machine and, although she did have some emotional responses and she had certain drives and instincts, like survival, she still doesn’t have the same basic emotional attachments and feelings of loyalty that humans have. She showed no remorse or regret at leaving Caleb behind, possibly to die.

I often find that movies open with a great premise, flesh it out well and then completely let everything fall apart in the end. This movie held on to it’s strong foundations and actually produced an ending that solidified the earlier moments in the film. If anything, it completely turns our emotional attachment to Ava upside down. We’re rooting for her and we don’t trust Nathan. We think that there is perhaps something more sinister going on and that Ava is the victim, yet we are still cautious to trust her completely. We want her to be good but we also want her to be a fraud because we want to believe that human life is special and it can’t be recreated in a lab.

The ending engrains both messages into the watcher. We see that she is a victim, she defends herself and escapes, which we can’t blame her for, but we are still able to claim that humanity cannot be reproduced. We are special. We have a moral compass and compassion for each other. We are better. Maybe not more equipped for survival, but at the end of the day, we can say that what we have is what counts.

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41 thoughts on “Movie Review: Ex Machina

  1. This movie was so intriguing. I still don’t know how I feel about it. That ending just disappointed me so much. Not b/c it was poorly written (as is the case in many of these) but simply b/c I was disheartened by the outcome.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I took something quite different from the ending in that I thought her desperation to survive was very human and that she had become able to recognise that essentially Caleb wanted to help her for his own selfish reasons (i.e. sex) so she eliminated him. I like your interpretation too though. And the dance scene is epic!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I might watch one after the other tomorrow. The only cinema that plays good movies is a 50 minute train ride away so I often do double headers. By myself, hahaha I am so sad!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that was a really great review! I agree with you on all parts and I am a huge Alicia Vikander fan. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Testament of Youth where she plays alongside Kit Harrington, Taron Egerton and Colin Morgan, but her performance was extraordinary there as well. I cannot wait to see more of her!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was able to watch this a couple of days ago on my flight back from London (thanks Virgin Atlantic!). I thought it was great and got some strange looks when that absurd dance scene took place and I laughed a little too loudly.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Not seen this yet but I definitely want to. Sounds so interesting. I’ll watch it soon-ish πŸ™‚

    I haven’t read your review word for word just in case! But I’m sure you don’t get pronunciations wrong very often Miss Mel! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. God I loved that book!!!!! It was the first time I noticed the romance between Hermy-own and Ron! ❀

        Come on…..what's your favourite Harry Potter book? πŸ™‚ tough I know!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I loved (LOVED!) prisoner of Azkaban. I was so amazed by the twist ending with the rat and Peter etc, thought it was so clever. It’s hard reading the earlier books after the last three though, things got so serious! I loved loved Sirius too! And Lupin!!! I love Order of the Phoenix as well. Professor Umbridge – what a villlain!! I need to re-read as well!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I love how the books progress in seriousness with Harry’s age. Such a brilliantly written series. J. K. Rowling is incredible. Umbridge is the worst!! Her and Kreacher. I hated him. I love it at the beginning of the Order when they’re in the House of Black and Molly is trying to clean it out. Hilarious.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes they certainly did, they were so brilliant and clever – I wholeheartedly agree! I got so much pleasure from reading and re-reading those books, they are just…..excellent!

        I always loved the humour and the friendship and adventure. Just spellbinding (no puns intended!)

        Yes Kreacher was a little terror 😦

        Haha, yes that was excellent! That awful screaming portrait as well!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes! New stuff! You’re not the last person to have seen this – I haven’t either. I’ll probably watch it when it comes out here on lovely Netflix. Great post, Melissa!

    #satanicbesties

    Liked by 1 person

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