I still haven’t seen Love and Mercy or Dope, two movies which could possibly sway or change my decision. I’ve been hearing great reviews and praise for those two films. And even with the amazing quality we received from George Miller on Mad Max: Fury Road, I couldn’t put it as my number one1. If you’ve read in one of my previous reviews, I’ve been struggling between this film and Pixar’s Inside Out for movie of the year, and for good reason. When I stepped out of the theater watching Ex Machina, it was like I got a breath of fresh air I didn’t know I needed. And Inside Out only continued that feeling months later. I’ll keep this review spoiler free because you really need to go see this if it’s still playing near you. Now, the meat and potatoes:
When science fiction is done right, this is what it looks like. At the center of this film, a young Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is brought in by his super billionaire boss, Nathan (Oscar Isaac) to perform the Turing test on Nathan’s secret A.I. project, Ava (Alicia Vikander). If you’re unaware of what the Turing test is, it was a question posed by famous mathematician Alan Turing. The Turing test evaluates a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior that is indistinguishable from that of a human. He proposed that a human tester would evaluate normal conversations between a human and a machine (A machine designed to create human-like responses). And the tester is also aware that they are conversing with a machine. If the tester cannot tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test.
There’s a lot of intellectual stimulation with Caleb and Nathan’s conversations about how to properly execute the test and they suggest several scenarios and changes throughout. This movie could have been very dry given what I just told you above. But the main thread woven into it from the very beginning and what starts to unravel one relationship and build another is what keeps you engaged the entire time. Without the fear of death or termination which is a question posed by Ava, this films would have been rather bland. But the questions that arise from that one question or fear keeps this film moving at a great pace. I’m left wondering at the end of the film, what would happen when you start to evaluate a sentient being that may be more powerful or smarter than yourself. How do you out think your creation? What rights does that creation have since you gave it life? Obviously, I won’t reveal how this plays out in the film, but the resolution of this dilemma creates, at least for me, a very satisfying ending to a great mind thriller.
I’m rating this film a 9 out of 10. It was simply superb, and much kudos to Alex Garland in his directorial debut for avoiding many pitfalls with such a dense screenplay. Alicia Vikander delivers a great performances as Ava, she was the star of this film in every way. Not to steal anything away from the other two leads, but the way she expressed her thoughts and feelings with Gleeson’s character made you fall for her and be conflicted all at the same time. And it honestly was the essential driving part of what I say above that she displayed throughout this film, a fear of death or the unknown.
1. My current list MOY is rather short
- Inside Out
- Ex Machina
- Mad Max: Fury Road
It could change later this year obviously, but I haven’t even able to fill out a whole 5 yet. Hopefully that will change after I watch Love & Mercy and Dope. Coming up next, I’ll release a list of my most anticipated movies remaining this year and let’s see how your list stacks up with mine.