HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Limbo
Supernova
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
Sweetheart
No Man of God
Gaia
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
   
 
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
   
 
  Ex Machina Fool Me Once, Shame On You
Year: 2015
Director: Alex Garland
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Sonoya Mizuno, Corey Johnson
Genre: Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) has won a prize. He entered a contest to spend a week with one of the world's great technological innovators, a tycoon who has invented some of the most advanced electronics yet seen - and owns the company he works for. Nathan (Oscar Isaac) is that man, but to reach him Caleb must travel to his personal home cum laboratory which is in the middle of a picturesque wilderness, a helicopter journey that has him set down in a field and asked to find the way in. He does that soon enough, and at the door to the complex he is given a special pass card that will open certain doors, though others remain closed. Then it is the man himself he meets, who breaks off from exercising to greet his guest - but what is Caleb here to see?

Alex Garland had distinguished himself in genre movies with a number of successful scripts, even if he was accused of liberally borrowing from other sources and adapting them to his own ends, though there was nothing especially unusual about that, and he delivered them with an intelligence that would often have them rise above their inspirations, or at least head off in an equally intriguing direction. Ex Machina was his directorial debut, and rather than crafting some big, splashy effects-filled adventure, he opted to keep it low key, all the better for his ideas to play out in an intimate venue rather than packing in the car chases and explosions, of which there were none. Yet it could be that by doing so, he showed up his limitations.

With its Spartan set design there was a tone of pure logic at work in this, not apparent in the first place but more obvious as the plot drew on; initially we think the two men are operating on a emotional, non-scientific level, though that is revealed not to be the case by the twist ending. What Nathan has cooked up in his isolated retreat is an actual android which he claims can pass the Turing Test, the ultimate demonstration that a machine has achieved consciousness when it can convince - or fool - a human that they are conversing with a living personality. Here's the first snag: can you think of any filmmaker who would present an artificial intelligence that wouldn't pass the Turing Test?

It would be a letdown if the supercomputer that had achieved sentient thought processes simply got caught in a loop or kept making blunders that exposed it as a sham, wouldn't it? So naturally Nathan's pet project is going to be convincing, in the tradition of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey which Garland cannot resist referencing, though what he adds to the mix is to make the A.I. a fembot. She is Ava, played by Alicia Vikander, the Swedish rising star, decked out in a fancy see-through look to render her that bit more otherworldly, though the actress managed a neat balance between the slightly off-kilter and the tentative moves towards a recognisable persona that could pass as a human. But what would be the ultimate test for Nathan to be satisfied?

What is this thing you Earthmen call love, Captain? Basically it seems the manipulative supermind of Nathan's will not be content until his guest is, if not in love with Ava, then certainly wants to see if she's fully functional in a sexual manner, and there are times when we wonder if she's flirting with him to demonstrate just that. However, there is another image Garland returns to over and over, and that is the prison imagery of Ava trapped in her cell, only talking to Caleb through the clear screen between them, suggesting slyly that either she may be dangerous and is best kept away from the public, or that she is unjustly incarcerated and needs to be set free to see that fairness done. And we all know how most prison movies end, don't we? No matter that there was an undercurrent of pondering over how men treat women they are attracted to, the gender politics were a little too removed from reality to ring true, leaving your common or garden Frankenstein retelling which may be icy cool in its realisation, but we all know how that ends too. Electro-music by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2056 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: