Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ex Machina Review

"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." 

That quote is not from the brand new science fiction masterwork by Alex Garland Ex Machina but rather the honest and haunting words of Stephen Hawking. Consider that even if the movement towards such an era seems glacial, with each passing day the world is getting closer and closer to a time when machine is the equivalent of and eventually superior to man. Perhaps humanity and A.I. can coexist, even form strong personal and emotional bonds with one another. Perhaps the advancements we make will lead to a safer world. A healthier world. A world in which we live not only longer, but better as well. Hawking makes no guarantees with his ominous thoughts on what could happen. He only warns of the possibility that moving forward does not guarantee ideal results.

Still though...what if he's right?

I pondered this as I witnessed the deliciousness of Ex Machina unfold, with every word of the screenplay sublime, full of thematic richness and content so layered it clearly demands repeat viewings. In the back of my mind I wondered if I would be here to see the day when we will be able to look at our own technological creations and feel inferior. The brilliance of this film is that it may now be science fiction but throughout every single moment I could practically see it becoming science fact. In what is amazingly his directorial debut, Alex Garland creates a world that is both bright and dim, a world so crisp and futuristic and alive and yet it somehow also feels soulless and claustrophobic due to a lack of natural light. A world muted in tones of grey that is transformed into a piercing sea of red within seconds, as if we are being reminded that things may seem calm now but be alarmed: it won't stay this way.

Oscar Isaac, whom I continue to not only harbor a man crush for but it intensifies with each passing film, plays a vastly wealthy man named Nathan who runs the world's largest internet company, and one day he chooses a young employee, a coder named Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) to be flown out to his home to participate in a top secret experiment. Caleb is welcome to just hang out and drink some beer and shoot the shit with Nathan, but in order to gain full access to what lies beneath he must sign a confidentiality agreement that what he sees, what he experiences must stay between them. It is here that we discover that Nathan isn't just working on developing the first ever true artificially intelligent being, it already exists. Her name is Ava.

I make no secret of my passionate admiration for real good science fiction and Ex Machina is even more than that. It is truly great cinema, featuring top notch performances, chilling cinematography and an eerie, perfect score. The dialogue is intelligent and thought provoking, the pacing is a perfect slow burn without ever feeling languid. God, with every word I write I want to watch it again more and more. Seriously, it's that great.

The plan is to perform an experiment to see if the artificial intelligence has reached the point of the technological singularity, the moment when we are no longer in control of robotics but rather they are capable of taking control of us. The chilling thought is, how will we know we have reached this moment until it is already too late? What if when we think we are testing out the A.I., it is actually capable of manipulating us?


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