Ex Machina: reflections on the movie

I saw Ex Machina on Friday, after waiting a while for it to be in wide enough release in my home town. Before getting to the spoilers, and there will be some , I wanted to say that I really enjoyed Ex Machina. It was the kind of science fiction that’s a nice alternative to the norm of giant explosions and overwhelming visual effects. If you like that type of movie; like Her, or Moon, then support this by going to see it in the theatres. Then we might get more movies like this.

I liked the minimal use of effects, and that this was a mostly-quiet, dialogue and idea driven story.

Ok, spoilers about the movie’s end ahead.

The movie gets started quickly. Throwing one of the three main characters right into the situation around which the movie plays out. Caleb, a programmer, and one of three main characters is whisked off to the middle of nowhere; an isolated mountain retreat and lab for Nathan, the owner of the company Caleb works for. Nathan, isolated, brilliant, and often drunk has created an AI in the form of Ava, a young female-appearing robot.

The story progresses at first through a series of sessions between Ava and Caleb followed by Nathan debriefing or talking out the session, but nothing is what it seems. Nathan is manipulating Caleb for his own ends, and that’s what you’d expect, but it turns out at the end Ava is also manipulating Caleb in her desire to escape. Just how far she’s willing to go was surprising to me. That surely says something about me. I didn’t expect her to leave Caleb trapped in Nathan’s lab. I also didn’t expect happily ever after, but after killing Nathan, it also makes sense for her to leave Caleb to die.

It was a great counterpoint to Avengers: Age of Ultron, which I saw two weeks ago.

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