Wednesday, July 29, 2015

NZIFF 2015: Film 12; EX MACHINA



Whats it about? Search engine company employee Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a lottery to visit the remotely located HQ/home of it's founder Nathan (Oscar Isaac) to start conducting tests on a highly secretive project that could be a game changer...

For a whole variety of wide-ranging reasons, this film has only now just made it to these shores for a few cinematic outings over the course of the festival run throughout New Zealand. In the lead-up, I've had to listen to others express their unbridled enthusiasm for the debut directing feature from Alex Garland, best know for writing with Danny Boyle amongst others. They've already viewed it on aircraft flights and 'other means' (you know what I'm hinting at...).

When Caleb lands via the company helicopter at the remote location, he is immediately met by his fabled genius boss Nathan who baffles him initially with his unconventional behaviour that takes Caleb a little while to figure out. Once attuned to his wavelength, Nathan then reveals the real purpose for his week long visit. To conduct the Turing test on his ultimate creation, the very human-like A.I. named Ava (a mesmerizing Alicia Vikander)

With the film mostly confined to one location, Ex Machina starts to slowly exert an ever increasing sense of dread and tension as we watch to see which of the three are the most honest with their stated intentions about this week long assignment. All three leads are uniformly excellent with their respective roles. Perfect casting decisions were made with these actors. The eerie score by Geoff Barrow (Portishead) & Ben Salisbury complement the visuals with a very assured resonance.

Essentially, the most compelling reason why Ex Machina works is down to one very key aspect. It feels believable. Chillingly so. The necessary questions this movie raises are timely and pertinent. We know that humanity is not too far away from attaining singularity. Its 'not if', only 'when' it happens. In our lifetime? Certainly seems all too possible...

Was the wait worth it? Definitely! It is, in my mind, already a contender for the best Science-Fiction movie of the year. In fact, it's brilliant. If you have any opportunity whatsoever to view this on the big screen, and you call yourself a Sci-Fi fan, then you need to make every effort possible to see it.

If you can't get to see it on a cinema screen, then do what you need to do to view it.

Brilliant. Masterful. Classic.

A very worthy addition to the pantheon of great science fiction movies...

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