Monday, May 4, 2015

Movie: Ex Machina

Ex Machina: an expertly done artificial intelligence themed film.  The movie opens with a software company employee winning an employer sponsored contest.  The employer is a Google-like search engine company owned by an individual named Nathan, played by Oscar Isaac.  As the prize for winning the contest, employee Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) gets to spend a week with Nathan.  The next sequence shows Caleb flying via helicopter to Nathan’s estate.  Caleb asks the pilot how much longer until they arrive.  The response is that they have been flying over the estate for the past hour.  We learn that Nathan’s home is also his laboratory and research facility.  We also learn that Nathan has created Ava, a strikingly beautiful female A.I. being.  Nathan wants Caleb to assist him in testing Ava to find out whether she really can think for herself.  The central concept of this film is the Turing test:  If you don’t know you are talking to a computer, would you think the computer is an intelligent being?  A series of conversations occur Ava and Caleb and a separate set of conversations between Nathan and Caleb.  The fact that Nathan’s home is designed as a  “man cave” helps retain your interest pending the start of the action segment.  For most of the movie there are only four characters, with the 4th character being Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno), who is the cook and Nathan’s sleep mate.  By stepping beyond just a voice, as in Her, writer and director Alex Garland establishes a more intricate A.I. character and a more complex film.  During the film’s 110 minutes, a fascinating set of relationships develop.  Part of the reason the film works so well rests with the character of Ava.  Alicia Vikander is superb.  There is a violent scene towards the end of the movie and, after seeing the movie, you may question whether the development artificial intelligence is a good idea.  This is Garland’s first film as a director.  I think we will see more.  I found the film to be fascinating and enjoyable.