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Ex Machina

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Scott Roberts
Ex Machina
on Apr 30, 2015 at 12:18:14 am







First of all, I don't know how to pronounce the title of this movie. When I was at the box office I debated whether to say Ex MACHINE-A, Ex Ma-CHEEEEN-A, or Ex MACH-ina...? I kinda wanted to just say "the movie with the naked robot" to avoid embarrassment, but I didn't want to risk getting a ticket to The Longest Ride or The Age of Adaline. I'm sure those are swimming with naked robots, too.

Anyway, Ex Machina is about a billionaire computer expert (Oscar Isaac) inviting a young programmer from his company (Domhnall Gleeson) to his ultra modern research facility (where all the doors make a really satisfying, airy "whOOOoooomp" sound when they open or close), in order to do a Turing Test on his AI robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander). What is a Turing Test? It's about trying to prove a computer truly has working AI, or something. I don't know, I never saw the Cumberbatch movie.

I'd just like to say that the robot looked pretty impressive. I know this because I've built a robot myself. Back in high school. It was neon green, four inches tall, and was able to walk across my desk. I even soldered my own circuit board, dude. I'm legit. But it was undoubtedly a piece of crap. I doubt anyone would want to Turing test it. I feel like I'm losing focus here, already. I just wanted to mention that I once built a crappy robot in high school. Got an A, by the way, probably because the electronics teacher was being nice and/or didn't care. It was the last month of the school year.

What I liked about the science of Ex Machina is that, while it's all probably completely unfounded bullcrap, they at least made a generic effort to explain things half hazardly. As in, I'm not sure this was necessarily a *smart* movie, as opposed to a movie that did a really good job of coming across as smart. That helps dumb guys like me feel smarter.

Oscar Isaac shows us how Ava's brain works, by creating a "liquid" motherboard, where microchips can move around freely or something. I don't understand how someone could possibly engineer that, but at least it seemed intelligent. It was "movie smart". Like, at a certain point you stop thinking about how a microwave actually works, and you just throw the Lean Cuisine in there so you can eat it. That's what Ex Machina is like. It's like two people discussing how a microwave works for a minute or two, but then they actually serve you the food that they cook with it.

It was all more about the psychological aspects of the plot anyway. I kind of assumed how the movie was going to end, because I picked probably the 3rd most obvious conclusion in my head, and it happened to be mostly right. I wouldn't go into this expecting to solve some giant twist, because it all resolves itself pretty naturally. And for the record, I liked the ending. But despite its predictability, it was still fun to watch it all play out.

And I liked that there were no clear protagonists or antagonists. Everyone has their own motives. You sort of sympathize mostly with Gleeson's character at first because you enter this weird situation in his shoes, but by the end, everyone has their bad moments and their good moments. I enjoyed how the billionaire character was this arrogant, creepy scumbag; because it made sense why programmed Ava to be overly sexual. It's not like Ava was created in a government facility; she was built by a weird pervert. Would a normal scientist try and replicate the bare female form as eerily detailed as this guy did? Probably not. But it makes sense why *he* in particular did.

As a film, I greatly enjoyed the tiny, strange moments and details. Sometimes (or maybe every time), that's all it takes to push me over the edge of happiness. There's a scene of Oscar Isaac dancing that happens so late in the movie that it serves basically no purpose other than being a weird scene. And I eat that kind of stuff up. But without a doubt, someone who bought a ticket for Paul Blart and accidentally wandered into the wrong theater and decided not to get up because they had already set down their large popcorn in the seat next to them, will definitely not enjoy Ex Machina. It's probably too smart for Johnny Construction Worker, but also might be too full of logic holes for Mr. Skeptical over here.

Let's say that it's kind of a middle ground in between people who loved the science behind Interstellar, and people who liked the Die Antwoord scenes in Chappie. I think I like my sci-fi dumbed down, but full of tense weirdness. Just like this.

8.5 out of 10


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Mark Suszko
Re: Ex Machina
on May 1, 2015 at 3:03:33 pm

I can't wait to see this, as well as Ultron, but I may have to wait a week; got the opportunity to go see "The Intergalactic Nemesis" this weekend, and it's bumped all my movie attendance a bit.







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Mark Suszko
Re: Ex Machina
on May 17, 2015 at 6:27:13 am

OK, Just saw Ex Machina, or as my wife calls it from just seeing the teaser trailers, "the robot porno movie".

It's not that. Though there are unclothed actresses playing fembots at times, that's actually just a few minutes of the movie.

The film has a very Kubrick-like style in the shooting, the editing pace, the direction. Even down to inter-titles. It felt for all the world like it had the same actor timing as 2001 did. I won't get too granular in case you don't want spoilers. I will say I guessed one of the macguffins right away, and might have guessed more, but I was caught up in the puzzle and debate of what AI is or isn't and how you tell. This film has a hard subject to deal with, in that to really get into the debate or discussion would bring the whole movie to a standstill in scientific detail So, they strictly avoid going there, instead trying to convey the key concepts in rather staged-looking expository bro bonding moments between the two male characters. I can see too that the marketing department for the film couldn't decide what the movie was either, so they pitched it with strong hints that getting it on with the fembot is the centerpiece of the film. Ergo, my wife's impression of the premise. It is not that. The nudity is artfully composed, and sets the stage for another level of bareness that's more to the point of the film. Really it's just a psychological thriller about trust and belief, less about a Turing Test and more about a lie detector test.

Overall, I enjoyed it, though the pacing sometimes made me fidgety. The photography is luscious and the art direction, in a mansion/lab that would enrapture the editorial staff of Dwell magazine to tantric heights. The female lead, Alicia Vikander, is , not to be punning, magnetic in her appearance and performance. The score, such as it is, is minimalist where it isn't just collections of practical music samples the characters are listening to. The overall creepy and foreboding vibe works well, down to a locked-door scene that was evocative of the ending to The Shining.


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