The way I see it, there are two types of science-fiction films: ones similar to Star Trek that rely on special effects bringing futuristic inventions and ideas to life in a spectacle of explosions and terrorized people, and ones similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey that combine small amounts of special effects to create great visuals but rely heavily on themes and ideas that relate to scientific topics. Ex Machina lands confidently within the boundaries of the latter definition. There are no intense action sequences in this sci-fi film, but rather, questions about artificial intelligence are asked that would not normally be considered by your typical blockbuster film such as I, Robot. There are times in the film where you begin to question everything that has been told to you and you try to figure out what is actually going if indeed there is something suspicious about the entire situation. During the viewing of this film, I had to force myself to take a stop back and wonder if I was just being paranoid about the entire situation and about which side was telling me the true reality. You are constantly feeling like not every card is being shown to you and that is the cause of your confusion, but at the same time, you wonder if everything is actually how it appears. It is a haunting, suspenseful experience that is truly gripping and is the definition of “leaving you on the edge of your seat.” It brings about questions of creator versus created and how we justify what constitutes as realistic human life. It forces you to think about the differences between us and forms of artificial intelligence, thus subliminally discussing what characteristics define humanity and the composition of human nature. There are one or two moments when the movie seems to be dull, but those moments aside, the film provides great scenes of paranoia-fueled suspense combined with intelligent themes and questions, all set upon a backdrop of great natural beauty in the outside world around the facility where the very limited cast is residing. Oscar Isaac continues to prove himself a tour de force in every film he acts in and Domhnall Gleeson puts in a very solid performance as well. It flew under the radar this year, but is still one of my standouts of 2015.
Ex Machina (2015): 3.5/4 stars