Film Review: Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2015) ★★★★

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A young computer programmer, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), wins the opportunity to spend a reclusive week in the mountains with the CEO of his company, unaware that he is participating in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence. When he arrives in the remote utopia, he meets a fascinating female A.I, Ava (Alicia Vikander), but when learns more of his boss, computer genius, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), it soon transpires that he is not there by chance. 

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Known famously as the writer and producer of 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002), Alex Garland returns to the big screen but this time he is also occupying the director's chair in this utterly thrilling, sci-fi narrative. Caleb works as a coding expert for 'Blue Book', the world's most popular search engine company. When he wins the opportunity to spend a week with the CEO, he is unaware that he is to interview a remarkable A.I by the name of Ava and test her abilities to convince him she his capable of human emotion under Nathan's close surveillance. However, when a brief glitch leaves Caleb and the A.I alone momentarily, Ava warns Caleb of what her creator is capable of causing him to dive deeper to uncover the true goings-on of his reclusive retreat.

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From the opening scene, Garland assets a mesmerising mise-en-scene, complete with a stylish creation of space and optical illusions with science fiction conventions. Set against a contradicting backdrop, the shots jump between a all natural forestation, untouched by man (Norway being the perfect shooting location for this). Once inside Nathan's lodge, we are welcomed inside a futuristic existence, powered purely by technology. We soon discover a more sinister side to man's creation, must like that of Frankenstein's monster. This interesting juxtaposition could be said to highlight fears of technology, much like James Whale did back in 1931 with Frankenstein, Garland brings to light that the boundaries between what we know to be artificial intelligence and reality are blurred. That while fascinating and sometimes beautiful (as Ava is made to be) - as humans we have never been so advanced and it could also be our demise. (And we've all seen Terminator, we know who this goes down!) This also ties in rather nicely with Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) and the ideology of replicates - how do they then know they're robots?  How can be separate between human and AI technology when the lines have been so blurred?

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What really seals the deal with this film is it's clever screenplay, leaving you guessing at every turn. Anchored wonderfully by performances from two of the big screen's best up and coming actors, Ex Machina is a refreshing and intelligent narrative that will hopefully establish Alex Garland as an auteur in his own right.

Oscar Issac, known for his roles in Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011), the lead in Inside Llewyn Davis (The Coen Brothers,), was the perfect choice for the role of Nathan, once again showing his versatility as an actor. Though he remains unrewarded for his performances so far, this is an exciting step forward for his career. The same can be said for Domhnall Gleeson - as seen in Frank (Lenny Abrahamson, 2014) and True Grit (The Coen Brothers, 2010), Gleeson is an unlikely yet worthy actor who is set to be the future of the Hollywood should he accept such a position.

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Though not entirely without faults, the few faults it has are made up for as they happen - forgiven by the excellent narrative, direction and cinematography which makes this film so easy to engage in. Seemingly unnoticed by the mainstream and a short-lived screening time, Ex Machina will remain a sci-fi cult classic much like Garland's previous creations, Sunshine (2007) and The Beach (2010). Satirically creepy, stylish and utterly tense, Ex Machina gets a Sophie star rating of 4 out of 5. Definitely one of the best blu-rays you'll pick up this year if you missed it in the cinema and a huge achievement for first time director, Alex Garland.

Another brilliant film ticked off my list and a long overdue review out of the way. Now the Oscars are over, I don't really know what to do with myself. I saw Big Hero 6 this weekend and it was amazing so standby for another review soon! Also I promise I will do my next video soon, fear not! What did you get up to this weekend? What was the last good film you watched? Comments below!

Until next time film fans,








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6 comments:

  1. Great review! I'm not the biggest sci-fi fan, but I figure I'll give this a go. Just from the pictures and your review it looks really intense and beautiful, so a great starting point for an amateur sci-fi fan! I'm excited to see that whole Frankenstein-don't mess with nature vibe

    http://bissysays.blogspot.com

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    1. Aw thank you! Even if you're not massively in to Sci-Fi, it's definitely all about the story which is brilliant. It's shot amazingly, I hope you like it! I'd love to know what you think of it afterwards! Thanks so much for reading xx

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  2. Another good review. I have not seen this one but I like the look of the way it has been filmed. I am a big fan of Oscar Issac too so will see for him! Check out my blog is you like film and fashion :)

    Sofia xx
    http://filmwardrobe.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thanks hun, it's definitely worth seeing if you get a chance. Oscar Issac is brilliant, hope you enjoy it - let me know what you think of it! x

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  3. I finally got to see this today and I really enjoyed it. It's thoughtful science fiction. I thought about Blade Runner and Bride of Frankenstein while watching this. I think the film is supposed to get a wider distribution in the US next week. I love your reviews, Sophie. xx

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    1. Thanks so much! I couldn't agree more - Blade Runner is one of my most favourite films! Really glad you enjoyed it - hope more people get to see it! Thanks for your lovely comments :)

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