Movie of choice :- Ex Machina Dir: Alex Garland (Writer of 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go, Dredd; Directorial Debut) Starring: Domhnall Gleason, Alicia Vikander, Sonoya Mizuno, Oscar Isaac.
Tonk ‘N Ratings: See It: First Day; First Weekend, First Week, In Theaters, At Home, Don’t Bother. Reminder: I don’t see these movies for free so ratings are based on if I feel I got my money’s worth.
I ask, does Alex Garland’s directorial debut match up to his writing talent? Here’s the plot: A young programmer is selected to test the human qualities in a female A.I.
Alex Garland has written three quality Sci Fi films that I enjoyed very much (28 Days Later, Dredd, Sunshine) but this is his first time stepping behind the camera and he also wrote the screenplay. I had heard lots of good things about this movie so I decided to see this over Furious 7, and I was not upset with that decision (other than the fact some old idiot next to me had to, intermittently, interject with comments/jokes * sigh*. Movie theaters here’s an idea: Instead of seats how about booths to seal you off from the more annoying patrons? I would pay extra for a box seat that provided something like that.)
Ex Machina is a very moody isolated film that follows a programmer, Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleason) who conducts a Turing Test for his boss’ Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) of A.I. creation Ava portrayed by Alicia Vikander. It’s very tight and doesn’t waste time with set up, a big plus for me. While there’s hints here and there nothing really reveals what’s actually going on till the climax.
I know I said I wouldn’t be all arty about film but I wanted to talk about the look and mood of the film. The cinematography was very well done. The mood of the film really stood out. In most films they have a tendency to make it very white and bright when comes to making a movie involving A.I. or anything scientifically cutting edge but this film, except for a few minutes kept the lighting lower (I want to say natural and their was not a lot of whiteing [Trademarked!]) involved. That combination of neutral colors and the low light combined to add to the unease that you start to feel past the halfway mark when you start to realize something is going on (I know when you see trailers they give away that something IS going on but if during the course of watching you forget that that means the director has done a good job). It almost acts as a way of hiding the truth of what’s really happening……..
There’s a lot of unease during the film, starting with the power outings experienced during Caleb’s time there. It’s during the first black out early in the film that Ava warns Caleb about Nathan. That unease works very well as it does a good job of building up tension and then releasing the twists at the right time. There’s even a scene involving Caleb that makes you think OMG! There’s a scene involving Nathan and his housekeeper Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) that made me LOL, but unlike Avengers: Age of Ultron, it don’t take away from the film. Feels more like it’s breaking the tension for a minute to allow the film to breathe. Take notes Whedon and MacFarlane!
Ultimately it becomes a game of cat and mouse for the climax as the pieces fall into place for one of the better film endings I’ve seen in awhile. The acting is solid. The writing is tight. Cinematography by Rob Hardy is stand out. This is a good first effort by Garland. It lives up to the writing work he’s done previously.
Tonk ‘N Rating: See It First Weekend