How far are we from a true functioning, fully self aware A.I.? We’ve all seen the Youtube videos of robots that can walk and “talk” and serve us things. These creations are programmed to respond to our needs, but what happens when we get so good at creating artificial intelligence, the machine doesn’t need us anymore? Writer Alex Garland, who brought us SUNSHINE and 28 DAYS LATER, now strolls us through a world where this very matter is at hand. EX MACHINA is the story of a young and brilliant programmer, Caleb, who wins a contest that allows him to visit the creator of what, in today’s society, would be the equal of Google. Nathan lives on a compound in the middle of nowhere. His home is state of the art in every way possible. But Caleb isn’t just there to pick the brain of a prodigy, he is there as a pawn in a much bigger game. Nathan has created an A.I. so perfect, that it defies what Caleb imagined to be the realm of possibility. His challenge: test “Ava”. But the real test is something much more sinister.Domhnall Gleeson play Caleb. Wide eyed and genuine, he is the perfect subject to test Ava’s capacity to interact with humans. He is caring and quick, and Gleeson plays him with such ease. Caleb us very much the hero of this film. It is not difficult to root for such a lovely young man. Oscar Isaac is a force of nature as Nathan. Seemingly too smart for his own good, his veiled agenda becomes clear from the very start. Isaac play him on the brink of sanity from beat to beat. He knows what we, as audience members, do not. It’s a palpable tension that is altogether phenomenal. Alicia Vikander, plays Ava with an inherent grace known only to dancers. She is curious, but not necessarily childlike. Her physicality is extraordinary and you instantly fall in love with her. Thankfully, we’ll be seeing much more of Vikander, as she is slated for at least 5 more films in 2015. Besides the obvious philosophical questions and the God Complex, Ex Machina gives us a glimpse into the near future. Is there a responsibility in reaping what we sew? What if Siri started to need things? What if our smartphones began making us feel guilty or sad or angry (and not the kind of angry we get when we lose at Candy Crush Soda). Alex Garland does double duty on this film as writer and director. He brings us into a world where we are forced to question everything. From the windowless sets to the very essence of right and wrong, Garland hits it out of the park. This is hands down one of my favorite films of 2015 thus far. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the tremendously talents FX and CGI crew. From the trailer alone, you can see how intricate Ava appears. You can oftentimes look right through here. I found myself staring in the most gawking, uncomfortable way, just trying to figure out how they did that! The work is seamless and perfect.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Alicia and Oscar this week during a roundtable discussion about the film. Below, you can film the audio from that chat. It might be best to listen after you’ve seen the film. Either way, it’s pretty wonderful.
EX MACHINA opens today!