Monday, May 25, 2015

Ex Machina: A tension filled Sci-Fi Thriller

Ex Machina may not be for everyone. If you like movies which make you think, are filled with tension, awkward circumstances, and dashes of mystery, Ex Machina will be right up your ally. The story is slow moving. It is filled with dialogue and little else. If you need a fast pace, I would stay away. I enjoy both movie types, and I was highly entertained by Ex Machina.
Ex Machina has three main characters, with a minor role for one other person. That's it, four people make up the main cast for this movie. Our main character, Caleb (played by Domhnall Gleeson), wins a contest to spend a week with the founder, Nathan, of a fictitious google like company he works for. Caleb is whisked away to Nathan's mansion. The mansion is in an extremely remote area which can only be reached by helicopter. Once Caleb arrives Nathan springs on him he has created an AI. He wants Caleb to interact with Ava, the AI, over the course of the week to help validate she is in fact artificial intelligence.
From this point on, the tension builds. The interaction between Nathan and Caleb is strained. I would feel weird too. I would not know how to interact with my billionaire boss, who has asked me to be included in one of the biggest breakthroughs in human history. Nathan is eccentric, and Oscar Isaac does a great job in the role. Slight spoiler: Nathan at one point in the movie is talking about his house, and how it was built. He mentions he has everyone who worked on it killed afterword, so no one can reveal all its secrets. Caleb thinks he is joking, but he and the audience are not quite sure. Nathan is just a little off, and you could see him possibly doing it. The weirdness just builds between the two characters, and is heightened as Caleb interacts more and more with Ava.
Alicia Vikander, who plays Ava is, amazing. She really steals the show. Her interactions with Nathan build on each other. You can tell Nathan becomes infatuated with her. What you don't know is if it is because she is programmed to be that way, or if she truly has feelings for him. Caleb actually questions this in the movie, and makes for another tension filled scene with Nathan.
In the end we are left with a human morality problem. What to do with this creation? Is it in fact alive? Does it have rights, the same as a human would? Should Ava be locked up in this secluded house, never to see the light of day? The movie does a great job in posing these questions, but does not really answer them. I am not sure we can answer them, until an AI like this is built. We do not currently even treat all humans equally, we strive too, but it has not happened yet.
The interesting thought is, AI is coming. These questions in the next one hundred years, are coming. I think we will have some form of human like AI within my lifetime, maybe even in the next twenty years. Google is on the brink of creating AI with the ability to have natural conversations (IGN Article). Bill Gates and others have weighed in, and think we are heading into dangerous territory with the computing capabilities we now have, and will have in the near future (Washington Post Story). As long as there has been science fiction books and movies, there have been ones dealing with the dangers of AI. Science fiction is on the verge of being science.
I was extremely entertained with Ex Machina, and would buy the movie to add to my collection. Again I do not think the movie is for everyone. If you are a science fiction fan, I think you need to see it. The movie can spark interesting conversations.It is the type of movie that will get better with each viewing. I will enjoy watching it numerous times. It could be used in college courses to spark debate. I would say high school if it was not for the nudity. I will eagerly await the day I can watch it with my boys to see what they think. I want them formulate opinions on how human AI should be treated and integrated into our world (Yep, I am a nerdJ).
My Rating: Must Buy



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