Ex Machina review

Director:
Alex Garland
Cast:
Domhnall Gleeson
Oscar Isaac
Alicia Vikander
Rated: R

Domhnall Gleeson plays Caleb in “Ex Machina,” a sci-fi film directed by Alex Garland. Caleb works for a company that is more or less the equivalent to Google in our world. The film opens with Caleb being invited to spend a week at the home of the tech company’s founder and owner.

Upon arrival, Caleb learns that the CEO Nathan (Isaac) lives in a subterranean type home and his residence is actually used for research and development.

Currently, Nathan is trying to create an artificial intelligence system and asks Caleb to test the A.I.

“Ex Machina” is a fascinating, intriguing sci-fi thriller that keeps an audience guessing due to its multiple characters and the dialogue they exchange. It’s hard to tell who exaclty is the one to trust in this flick which makes it all the more interesting.

Not only is it strong because of its mysterious nature, though, the movie also works thanks to its dedication to scenes that explore technology, artificial intelligence and the morality behind it all. Its combination of these two aspects, having a suspenseful atmosphere and bringing up interesting questions on scientific matters all makes for an intelligent picture.

As previously stated, the characters are one of the film’s highlights. Caleb, Nathan and the artificial intelligence robot Ava (Vikander) each have a lot of meaningful interaction and it is apparent that both Ava and Nathan are hiding something from Caleb which adds to the suspense factor.

Isaac is arguably the best part of the whole movie and is making a case for himself as one of my favorite actors working today. His performance shows that there is more to know than what his character is letting on, the problem is that you’re unsure of what that is. It’s a good problem to have since it makes an audience that much more in finding out what happens next.

Playing a robot or A.I. in film can always be somewhat tricky. It has to be a good balance between seeming robotic in a conversation while at the same time bringing forth a touch of emotion for investment. Vikander pulls this off nicely as Ava. While Ava does in fact speak in an artificial way, she still feels like an engaging character.

One of the weaker performances in the film was Gleeson. While having some good moments, there were some scenes where it felt like his character was being a bit overshadowed by the other performers who were on screen.

Despite not being a film with an emphasis in showing off a lot of CGI, it’s still apparent that the special effects in this movie were very detailed and a lot of work went into them. Ava seems completely lifelike even with the robotic prosthetics she has and she seamlessly blends into the setting around her.

“Ex Machina” has only a couple flaws, if one can even call them that. One would be Gleeson simply not having as strong of a performance as the others. The second is that the film could have probably benefited by ending a few shots earlier. With that said, though, this is still a superb film that delivers on what a person expects when walking into a true sci-fi movie. It’s not perfect, but it certainly is good quality. High 4 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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