Do you sometimes ignore a movie for months, just to watch it someday and realize what you’ve been missing? That’s what happened with “Ex Machina” for me. Last semester, I had a Sociology class and we were discussing things like virtual reality and artificial intelligence. My professor showed us two movie trailers: this one and the one for “Men, Women and Children”. I was instantly interested in the latter, which ended up being average at best, and completely forgetting about “Ex Machina”. Fast-forward to when “The Force Awakens” came out and everyone and their mothers became completely obsessed with Oscar Isaac, and I just knew I had to watch everything he’s ever done, starting with this movie. I thought it would be a good idea to talk a little bit about why I liked it so much!
The movie follows Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a young programmer who is selected to visit his reclusive boss’ (Oscar Isaac) estate and evaluate his latest experiment in artificial intelligence, Ava (Alicia Vikander). The first thing that caught my attention about this movie was the cast. Gleeson, Isaac and Vikander are arguably three of the most prominent actors right now, and this buzz is certainly justified. Their performances here are solid, and I was particularly enthralled by Vikander’s role as Ava. Another thing that I especially liked here was the direction. This was the directorial debut of Alex Garland, who’s had a long career as a writer, and he was able to set the tone just right with the precise and original choices of shots.
I’m not a huge follower or fan of sci-fi movies, but when I do watch them, I tend to enjoy it when they’re able to discuss the human aspect of whatever bigger plot is happening. I think “Ex Machina” was particularly successful in this area because during the whole movie you’re left wondering who is in fact being tested. There’s also a feeling throughout the movie that things aren’t quite right, and that everything isn’t exactly what it seems, which gets the audience more fully immersed in the narrative.
Technically speaking, I thought this movie was beautifully done. Its editing is slower than most movies of this genre, but it works well to make everything even more tense. The cinematography was especially good, and if I hadn’t read that this movie was done in a relatively low budget, I probably wouldn’t even notice it seeing as every shot is sharp and purposeful.
It’s also interesting to note how little this movie was promoted. I don’t remember seeing it in any theatres near me, and the only time I saw a trailer of it was in class. It’s a shame, as it was such a great movie that I’m sure more people would like if they knew it existed. Maybe with the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects more people will get around to watching it, and they’re in for a great experience.
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