Ex Machina

Ex Machina ★★★

A naive computer code writer, Caleb, is selected to participate in a scientific experiment that if successful will change the world as we know it forever. He travels to a remote location where his eccentric boss, Nathan, introduces him to Ava, a female A.I. with a mind of her own. Is Ava so smart she's almost human? Is something not quite right? What's up with Nathan's beard? Ex Machina has the feel of a Stanley Kubrick film, and visuals ripped from the mind of Terrence Malick. First time director, Alex Garland, paints a pretty picture, but sometimes looks alone will not cut it.

Oscar Isaac is the mack daddy pimp motherfucker. His character, Nathan, boxes like Muhammad Ail, drinks liquor like Ernest Hemingway, swears like Lenny Bruce, and dances like Michael Jackson. He's on fire, and so is his beard. He's almost too damn good. I call this the "Don Logan Effect." It's where one character is so damn brilliant, it distracts you from the rest of the movie. (Watch Sir Ben Kingsley as Don Logan in Sexy Beast and tell me how hard it is to pay attention to anything else when he's on the screen.) In this case, I'm so glad Oscar is in Ex Machina. Without him, who knows how low my film score would be.

So, what's wrong with Ex Machina? Well, the dialogue is damn good and believable. It looks fuckin' gorgeous. The visuals are almost orgasmic. It features some of the most breathtaking cinematography I've seen in recent memory. The score is creepy cool. A couple of scenes reminded me of The Shining. (There's one hallway walking scene that screams Overlook Hotel.) The acting is top-notch. (Oscar deserves an Oscar.) But, Ex Machina is slow as fuck, and I couldn't connect with Caleb or Ava. I'm all for slow burn. I don't mind waiting, but extra slow motion with molasses on top, makes me sometimes wiggle in my seat. It comes right back to the fact I'm not that into A.I. movies, and Ava and Caleb's chemistry felt forced. Domhnall Gleeson is a good actor, but he did nothing for me. I felt zero for his character, Caleb. Alicia Vikander is a wonderful actress. I'm sure she has a bright future ahead of her. She brings Ava to life, but I felt a void. Something felt off key. I'm not sure what that something is, but it's out there.

I'm sure Ex Machina will appeal to a lot of people. Everything I said that's good about it, should be things that many movie fans will dig. But, it's nowhere close to being my cup of tea. Oscar Isaac owns, but even with my 3 star rating due mostly to the stunning visuals and Mr. Isaac, I'm not recommending this one. Maybe I'm just more of a Species than a 2001 type of guy?

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