I recommend the 2015 film Ex Machina. It’s a story about Google making robots with metal boobs but, as this isn’t a sequel to The Internship and therefore isn’t a two hour Google advert, it uses the pseudonym ‘BlueBook’ instead. If I was a proper writerer, I might describe it as a character driven sci-fi film about geeky programmer Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson) winning the chance to spend a week working on a top secret project at the secluded, clinically clean home of search engine mogul Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaacs).
It’s an interesting examination of artificial intelligence and sexualisation. It has similar themes to the peerless Blade Runner, but with an entirely different aesthetic. While Deckard flew through smokey art deco streets, Caleb walks the minimalistic corridors of the sleek, clean, Apple-store esque lab/home of Nathan. While Blade Runner is set in a dystopian future, Ex Machina’s modern look adds to the audience’s paranoia that, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, the events of Ex Machina really could be playing out in some Silicon Valley hot-shot’s jungle retreat.
Domnhall Gleeson’s appearances in Star Wars, Frank, About Time, and now Ex Machina have shown him to be a diverse and talented actor. In Ex Machina he is charmingly awkward, with an endearing sense of naivety and excitement. Oscar Isaacs is excellent at being the exact opposite. He plays the closed and cool Nathan, creating an intriguingly enigmatic character.
The core of the film is, of course, Ava; the android/robot/fembot. Alicia Vikander does a fantastic job of balancing humanity and machinery. Her movements , facial expressions, and dialogue all have a slightly unnatural quality to them, and yet the viewer is slowly convinced of her intelligence. When we’ve seen so many depictions of humanoid robots, from C3-PO to the replicants in the aforementioned Blade Runner, it’s impressive that Ex Machina manages to create an original robo-look. Like the enclosed world of the film, Ava is modern and minimalist, an all too believable design.
The following section contains spoilers, if you would rather avoid said spoilers, go and read one of my other recommendations. That way you will still be adding to my stats.
I am not educated enough on the subject of feminism to pass judgement, but, considering that both female characters turn out to be robots, could this possibly be the most spectacular failing of the Bechdel Test ever? Or, considering the fact that at least one of them appears to have artificial intelligence, am I going to be accused of consciousnessism? Robo-Racism aside, it’s a shame that we don’t see Ava interact with a real woman. As an artificial intelligence without the prejudices of a human, would she have employed the same sexual manipulation in her attempt to escape if she had encountered a woman? Would she, as a female intelligence, have found more to empathise with in a female character?
This, however, is a recommendation, and not an essay on ethics. I recommend Ex Machina on the grounds that it makes viewers consider ideas surrounding misogyny and consciousness.
So, um, give it a watch pal.