ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Ex Machina (2015)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Alex Garland

Starring:
Domhnall Gleeson/Caleb
Oscar Isaac/Nathan
Alicia Vikander/Ava
Sonoya Mizuno/Kyoko
9 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A rich and booze happy inventor (Oscar Issac) brings in a young programmer (Domnhall Gleeson) to test the consciousness (or lack of) of his latest invention; a sexy A.I. named Ava (Alicia Vikander). But who’s truly testing who here?
THE LOWDOWN

Novelist turned screenwriter Alex Garland, who penned The Beach (based off his superior novel), 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Dredd, is a writer that I have esteemed for a long time. I knew that it was a matter of time before he got behind the camera and I always had a feeling that when he did, it would result in something special. Now that I’ve seen his directorial debut EX MACHINA (no relation to the video game Deus Ex Machina) I am happy to report that my instinct was right. Granted, EX MACHINA will not be a film for everybody, it's very talky and that may turn off many in this now ADD society. But hey, it was a movie for me, all that matters in my bubble of a world!

Garland’s directorial debut was a refreshingly subtle, character/dialogue driven, brilliantly written (lots of research went into this and it showed) and complex cerebral ride. It slyly explored the “is an A.I. a machine or a conscious being" question (Blade Runner style), the ethics that (should?) come with our ever growing technology while at the same time acting as a sexy, twisty and bitch-slapping thriller that hurt me more than once in terms of where it went. Yes this was Sci-Fi, but it's fiction didn't feel that far off to this tool... at all! I hope our society doesn't go "this way". Alas it looks like it is. But I digress... back to the film! The core of it all was without a doubt the well-drawn characters and yes I did notice that their names were derived from the Bible. We had Nathan, Caleb, Ava (a play on Eve) and we even got a variation on Lilith (Adam’s first wife) who showed up as the A.I. Lily. Being that the tale at hand paralleled many of the themes found in the book of books; the name play here made sense and added an added layer to the proceedings.

What truly shined though was the exceptional chemistry the lead players shared together. Domnhall Gleeson was ideal as the intellectual yet emotionally shaky young man, Oscar Isaac owned the screen as the boozing, charismatic inventor with a God complex while Sonoya Mizuno was mysteriously alluring as the no English speaking Kyoko. They all worked beautifully together and had me riveted. On that, Alicia Vikander stole the show for me. What an hypnotizing performance! I dare you not to fall in love (or/and lust) with her while watching this one. The camera simply loved her and she sold her character via particular facial expressions and robotic-ish movements. You could see that computer brain of hers working over time. Every time she was onscreen, I was glued to it. Unreal.

It should be stabbed that the actors were kind of spoiled on this show as they had meaty dialogue to sink their teeth in! If it wasn’t clever lines like “I'm Kirk. Your head's the warp drive. Engage intellect” making me smile, it was philosophical nades like this one doing the trick: “One day the A.Is are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.” I loved that one and I AGREE! Garland exceeded behind the camera too! His framing was sublime, he milked his striking exteriors for all they were worth (made for a cool contrast with the more clinical looking interiors) and his use of silence was mucho powerful. Add to all that jive simple yet efficient production designs, seamless visual effects (the robot VFX supervised by Double Negative’s Andrew Whitehurst was amazing), some moments of nastiness that totally took me aback and a moody score by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury (which I’m listening to now) and you get one for the books!

Any complaints? Hmmm… not much. One surprise was see through and the flick had one ending too many as I would’ve called it a day 5 minutes before it actually ended. That’s all I can think of.
All in all EX MACHINA owned me on pretty much every level! Story, characters, special effects, story turns… you name it, this one kicked ass at it! I don’t toss the word “masterpiece” out there very often but I will for this one…MASTERPIECE!

GORE
We got stabbings, a nasty cut and some robot damage. Not a gore fest by any means but you'll see enough off-putting stuff, trust me!
T & A
Everything goes! Bums, breasts, full frontal, everything! The nudity here went from being arousing to disturbing.
BOTTOM LINE
Ex Machina was Frankenstein meets The Island of Dr. Moreau by way of Basic Instinct. How's that for a mix?! Now, if you’re looking for an action film, this isn’t it! But if you crave an existential film about what makes for a conscious being, one that also acted as a visceral and sexy thriller, than this ones for you! The top notch acting, the confident directing, the stellar VFX, the random mean-streak and the haunting score also helped in making this experience a superior one. Sure one “twist” I saw coming miles away and the film should have ended 5 minutes before it capped off, but those qualms are chump change compared to the riches this one poured my way! This one will make my Top 10 of 2015… for sure!
BULL'S EYE
The seed was planted in terms of Ex Machina when a young Garland started coding on a computer and he felt that the machine had a mind of its own.

The title comes from the Latin phrase "Deus Ex-Machina"which came from Greek tragedies. It means "A god from the Machine".

Felicity Jones was considered for the role of Ava.
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