Friday, April 24, 2015

Ex Machina Review

Sometimes movies that I'm really excited for claim they are coming out one week, but then torment me by staying in limited release for two straight weeks. I've been excited for Ex Machina for a while now based solely on the trailers that were released and I was totally excited to see Furious 7 in the first weekend of April followed by Ex Machina in the second weekend. But no, I had to wait all the way until the fourth weekend. Thankfully they finally decided to expand nationwide, which is something the other movie from the second weekend of April has yet to do. Yes, I'm looking at you Clouds of Sils Maria. Come on already! Back on subject. Ex Machina finally came. Putting it simply, this is the best movie of the year so far. No contest. Granted, most of the big movies of the year haven't come out yet, but still. Also, this is the type of movie where the less you know about it going in, the better your experience will be. This makes for a tricky review, but I will  do my best to explain why this is my favorite movie of the year without telling you a whole lot about it.

Premise. Artificial intelligence. This subject has been covered by a whole ton of movies throughout the years, but I'm here to tell you that this may be the best artificial intelligence movie that has been made. I use the word "may" because I haven't seen every movie that has tackled the subject, but right now I can't think of any that have done a better job. Broadening the topic even more, this is also one of the best sci-fi movies that I have seen in quite some time. Note the wording "one of the best." I'm not claiming this is the best sci-fi movie, but it's a dang good one. So what's it actually about? Well, Oscar Isaac plays this guy who is the head of a huge company and has created this artificially intelligent woman that he has named Ava. Domnhall Gleeson plays a character who has won the chance to come participate in an experiment with Ava for a week. That's all the specifics I'm going to tell you about the plot. Just know that with this setup comes a whole lot of unpredictable twists and turns that make this quite the ride.

A lot of this movie is actually slow-paced. As I've said in my most recent review of True Story, having a slow-paced movie can go two ways. With True Story, there are parts of the movie that are slow that make the movie boring and thus take away from the quality of the movie. Ex Machina is a great example of a movie on the other side of that spectrum. There's a lot of movies out there that focus on special effects to make their movie great. With the summer season about to get underway, we're about to see a whole lot of these movies and I'm proud to admit that I love these types of big blockbusters. This is not the focus of Ex Machina. While the special effects are actually quite brilliant, the movie leans a lot more on ideas and theme to make the movie great. The power of the movie comes in these conversations between Domnhall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and the robot Ava as well as the consequences that follow the decisions made by each of these three. There are a lot of themes that I'm not even going to talk about because I want it to be a surprise for you, but I will say that these themes are deep. They are thought-provoking. This isn't the type of movie that is simply an entertaining flick, it's the type of movie that sticks with you long after seeing it because of the themes that are presented.

This is also a movie that is very meticulously crafted in terms of all the technical aspects and the production design. I'm not going to give you examples because, as I stated, I want to leave the themes a surprise. But once you think of all the major themes that are happening, you can sit there and analyze in depth each scene, each set, each outfit, each room, each prop and notice how all of these details, whether big or small, add something to the themes of the movie, To add to that, you have all of the cinematography adding to the themes of the movie. You can specifically pay attention to the lighting in every scene, the camera angles, the different shots, etc. All of it makes for an absolutely beautiful and stunning movie. But I'm not even done. The score in this is fantastic. A lot of the music is very subtle as the scenes themselves are also subtle, but when the movie gets to the really intense scenes, especially towards the end of the movie, the score just adds so much intensity and power to an already powerful film.

Finally I want to talk about the acting in this. First off we have Domnhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac. These are two actors that I have been raving about for quite some time now. Pay attention to these two. If either of them highlights a cast of a movie, pay attention to that movie because it's probably worth seeing. Even if the movie itself isn't that great, you can bet that they will at least give it their all. They are also examples of two actors that do a great job of disappearing into their roles and that, to me, is the sign of a great actor. Oscar Isaac is especially excellent at this. I've seen him in several movies now and he is completely different in every movie. He acts differently. He looks differently. He talks differently. He is the character and not himself, which is fantastic. If you don't know Domnhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, I can guarantee that you will by the end of the year as they are both cast in Star Wars: The Force Awakes. I also can't end this review without mentioning the third person in this movie because it is a trio of great acting, not just a duo. This is Alicia Vikander who plays our A.I. girl Ava. I didn't know her much at all before this, but holy cow. She's just... wow! I don't want to say much about her or her character, but just trust me on this. She's great.

It's only April. I'm not going to try to predict how high this will be on my list of favorite movies of the year come December. First off, most of the highly anticipated movies from this year are yet to come. Second, there's always movies that show up out of nowhere towards the end of the year that blow my mind away. Last year at this time there were a couple of movies that I said were guaranteed to be on my end of year list and embarassingly enough, I left them off. What I will say, though, is that if there is a movie this year that is going to top Ex Machina, I'm super excited to see that movie because it will require a near perfect movie to top it. Right now I'm going to give Ex Machina a 9.5/10, but I'm going to put a figurative asterisk on that because this is the type of movie that will probably get better after time just by thinking about more and giving it additional viewings, but as of now it's been less than 24 hours. Just know that my mind was blown at the end of this movie. I understand that it won't be for everyone because this focuses more on theme and dialogue than fancy effects, but my reaction at the end of this movie was a similar to the reaction I had when I saw Inception for the first time. I'm not saying it's as good as Inception. I'm just saying I had that type of reaction at the end.

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