With films involving Artificial Intelligence (AI), there is always a sense of morality and of ethics, and this film breaks those boundaries in a fantastic way.

Isaac and Gleeson in Ex Machina / Picture Credit: Universal Pictures

Isaac and Gleeson in Ex Machina / Picture Credit: Universal Pictures

Ex Machina, released in 2015, is a testament as to what can be achieved with the choice of limited casting, limited space, and phenomenal writing and directing.

Directed by Alex Garland, the film really drags you in and leaves you thinking about the ethical side of what creating AI can do, not only to you, but to the thing being created.

We open up to see Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), working away at his office desk. All of a sudden, he gets an alert saying he’s won a competition to spend a week with the owner of the company, to help him with tests and such.

Once Caleb gets to Nathan’s (Oscar Isaac) home, he is instantly taken aback by its striking design. Once the two get acquainted, they begin talking about what Nathan has been developing – AI.

Learning that this is what he is there for, Caleb is more than interested to talk to Ava (Alicia Vikander), Nathan’s creation.

When Caleb goes in to speak to Ava the screen goes black, and tells us that this is session one with Ava. This is a great way to tell the audience that these are tests, to tell viewers that this is essentially a diary you are watching.

The movie then follows Nathan and Caleb as they continue to discuss Ava, and Caleb talks to her every day – Nathan states that this is to see whether or not Ava would pass for human, but is he telling the truth?

Isaac and Gleeson in the white, eerie hallway / Picture Credit: Universal Pictures
Isaac and Gleeson in the white, eerie hallway / Picture Credit: Universal Pictures

The majesty of this film comes from its twist – which we won’t spoil for you – but it is truly one of the most shocking and most incredible twists you will see as ulterior motives, ones you would never guess, are revealed.

While Caleb believes that Ava is wonderful and most definitely impressive, Nathan has some very dark secrets that are uncovered, leading Caleb to take drastic measures to ‘save’ Ava from him.

This film is perhaps one of the best films of its kind, the way the two men discuss AI, the way in which Nathan makes the quiet and reserved Caleb so uncomfortable, the mind games both men are playing against each other; it is utter brilliance.

The film essentially asks you to dwell on all the issues brought up, such as the creation of AI and what the implies – without being too preachy and continuing through the film to be interesting and shocking.

The lack of music and the white halls and rooms give Nathan’s home a sort of clinical impression, a sense of unease as the place does not look lived in. The movie really takes from horror aspects and when it does utilise music, it does it in such a way that it takes over the screen without being too dominating.

Gleeson and Isaac in Ex Machina / Picture Credit: Universal Pictures
Gleeson and Isaac in Ex Machina / Picture Credit: Universal Pictures

You are nothing less than captivated by the simplicity of the movie matched with the slight horror aspect in the sense that Nathan’s home feels like a clinical spa of some kind, and the eeriness of there being no one there but Caleb, Nathan, Ava and a member of staff – but are these really the only people there?

This really is a film where you have to pay attention and listen, as every move made is significant, every single word spoken is something to mentally note, and the way in which the movie utilises Caleb’s uncomfortable nature and clashes it with Nathan’s god-like ego is amazing to say the least.

Ex Machina is simply phenomenal. The overall aesthetic, the carefully weaved-in music, and the performances of the main cast makes the movie worth the watch a thousand times over.

Warning: This trailer contains violent imagery

Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal

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