Ex Machina12 Apr 2015
“What does it feel like to have created something that hates you?” This is a question Ava asks of Nathan, her creator. A poignant and thoughtful question to ask of a creator indeed.
Ex Machina has some great qualities working in its favor. Beautiful photography and cinematic scapes of Norway. Well executed references to mythology, history, nature vs. nurture debates seamlessly included in dialog. It is well situated among the genre’s many explorations of AI as a topic - man made intelligence, replication of human emotions, capacity for love, machine and man relations. It is very clear the film-maker is a writer. From his dual reliance on dialog and setting, rather than cinematic tools like movement, frame, motion. To the structure of the film, basically unfolding in chapters but well-paced, properly revealed chapters.
But at the same time, Ex Machina lacks some qualities that keep it from going from an “I like it” to an “I love it” film. Chief among these is its inability to offer something new to the topic of AI. There were hardly any new sci-fi concepts that I came away with. Or any explorations of old sci-fi concepts that made me consider Alex Garland an influential voice for the genre. In fact, his adherence to earthly conceptualizations of gender, sexuality and power made me wonder if he’s even the right guy to be shaping our future. That probably sounds harsher than its meant to, but I could’ve done with some injection of feminism here.