There is nothing better than great science fiction. I love every genre out there and they all carry the possibility of delivering something truly special, but the best science fiction will almost always linger longer than anything else. The reason for this is totally obvious, of course. Science fiction delivers something unique and thought provoking. Science fiction can bend all genres to capture the unknown or broaden the spectrum of what is possible. Science fiction shoots for the stars where everything else is decidedly earth bound.
‘Ex Machina’ is just about as good as science fiction gets. Oh, it might deliver the thrills that many other great Sci Fi films have, but it is beyond thought provoking and will leave you thinking about so many different things your head might spin off. Artificial intelligence, humanity, femininity, sexuality, jntelligent design, manipulation, trust, and so much more is explored in this film with a level of sophistication that is uncommon in Hollywood filmmaking. Which is why this might be the first film of the year to squeeze into my best films of 2015. It’s hard for me to see it not making the cut.
The plot is shrouded in mystery from the beginning. A young coder named Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson) is randomly chosen to meet the creator of the most popular search engine in the world. The catch is that said creator lives out in the middle of nowhere and almost nobody has ever been to his domicile that we know of. In fact, after Caleb arrives we soon discover that his house is actually an underground research facility. However, what the research facility is for is much more interesting.
The creator of this research facility is named Nathan (Oscar Isaac) and his latest creation seems to be life itself. Synthetic life to be precise. You see, Caleb has been invited to his facility for the purpose of testing Nathan’s latest robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander). He needs to help determine for Nathan whether or not Ava is actually an artificial intelligence that can perfectly mimic the emotions of humanity or if she fails in certain aspects. It is in these tests that the film begins to reveal some very intriguing prospects about the nature of artificial intelligence and humanity itself.
Honestly, there are so many little tidbits in this film that I would love to discuss the implications of, but I really don’t want to ruin anything for you. The film is a slow and intense burn to its eye opening ending. It earns ever little thing it contributes to its audience by allowing itself to play out at a deliberate pace. This is intended to reveal what is needed at just the right time for maximum impact and it works like gang busters. This is largely thanks to the outstanding performances by the brilliant cast. This is a dialogue driven film and so giving a great performance is paramount.
Yet, that great dialogue wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for writer and director Alex Garland. You may not know his name yet off hand, but you likely have heard of the previous films he has penned. ’28 Days Later’ and ‘Sunshine’ are two of his most brilliant so far. ‘Ex Machina’ represents his directorial debut and it is about as good as debuts come. So, if you are a fan of science fiction or just want something to spark your intellect this weekend I suggest you run out to see this flick. I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.