Ex Machina (2015) Mini Review

Ex Machina (2015) Mini Review
A New Art House Cinema movie out in Korea.

Keywords: #ExMachina #DomhnallGleeson #OscarIsaac #AliciaVikander #SonoyaMizuno

I just saw Ex Machina (2015) which came up in Korea among the art-house cinemas. This movie, Ex Machina (2015), has been getting phrases in the more indie circles. And, while the movie is better than it should be, it is not as good as the word out there says it is.

The plot goes thusly. You have a guy who is a programmer at a “Goggle” like company getting picked to stay a week with the legendary CEO of the company. He gets air lifted to a distant mountain range where there is no one for miles. There he meets the CEO who wants to use him to test his new beautiful female android’s AI. And things happen in most of the cliché manner you would expect from this setup only filmed very artfully.

One of the reasons why  Ex Machina (2015) is getting phrases is that it is well shot. I mean it is very artistically well shot! In addition, the direction is constrain and very precise. The acting is pretty good across the very few cast members the movie has. There are basically only 4 characters in the movie. Oscar Isaac plays the CEO. Domhnall Gleeson plays the Guy and Alicia Vikander plays the Android. Sonoya Mizuno plays the maid.

They are all good. Alicia Vikander is the standout but still not as standout of a performance as I have seen from many actresses in 2014. It was a great year for actresses.

So why is Ex Machina (2015) not great as people say it is?

The reason why it is not as great as people think it is is because the story is actually very standard for this type of Frankenstein/Technophobia movie. I have actually seen this story at least a few dozen times in various formats.  While it does not need to be original, Ex Machina (2015) does not do anything new in the story area. Rather, it goes for the whole toss in techno terms and act like it is very serious approach. Thus, it comes off very pretentious if you really pay attention to what is going on and not be swept up by the cinematography and the direction.

In many ways, Ex Machina (2015) feels like a decent short story about an Android having a conversation with a person that got bloated up to feature length by the standard Hollywood screen writer. Leaving aside the pseudo-intellectual discussions scenes aside, the rest of the plot only proceeds because the guy does some stupid stuff. Then the CEO does some stupid stuff. Then a Hollywood plot gimmick kicks in and everything escalates. This leads to the expected cliché ending but shot very nicely.

Basically the plot only works because the characters are very stupid which does not gel with the movie keep shoving in our throats that they are very intellectual. You could view it as hubris but the movie does not do a good job at conveying this.

One of the things that irked me the most is that the main protagonist is essentially a well-educated version of Jar Jar binks in that he is basically an idiot that ends up destroying everything in just a few days because the plot says he should. He is intellectual enough to be dangerous but stupid enough to be desaturases. You know the character archetype.

The only real difference between Jar Jar binks and the Domhnall Gleeson’s character is that Jar Jar binks is a slapstick character who is meant to be an idiot. Oh and Jar Jar binks is CGI. What excuse does Domhnall Gleeson’s character have? I wanted to just kill him starting halfway through the movie.

In conclusion, Ex Machina (2015) is extremely well shot, well directed, well-acted movie about a not very good and not well thought out story.  While the former qualities compensate a lot and I mean a lot, it is not enough to make me watch it again. The actual story is something I would have read in junior high as a short story. However, that short story was not almost 2 hours long and not actually as pretentious.

On its pure visual and acting merits, Ex Machina (2015) is worth watching at least once. However, I would not rush out to watch it again. Also, the movie has a Caucasian android wearing an Asian android’s skin which is rather off putting and weird. Not sure the movie needed that scene. And, to be frank, you could cut out 20 minutes of the movie and it would have been far better. The ending is too long also.

Score: B-  or 6/10

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