Thursday, 29 January 2015


I've just been to see Ex_Machina, the Alex Garland film about a cyborg, which is played by Alicia Vikander (Who also took centre stage in the recent 'Testament of Youth').

Coincidentally, I re-watched Jonathan Glazer's 'Under the Skin' a few days ago (it's free on Amazon Prime at the moment), where Scarlett Johansson plays a kind of alien 'Woman who fell to earth', set in Scotland.

There's similarities in some of the ideas around empathy and adaptation. Without spoilers, Ex Machina explores whether a created AI can pass the Turing Test, where another human considers it indistinguishable from a human in terms of its responses.

After the jolly opening scenes, the movie is mainly a closed-world three-hander showing the interplay between the off-key billionaire software developer (Oscar Isaac - who played Llewyn Davis in the film of the same name), the unwitting software guy being used to conduct the test (Domhnall Gleeson) and the initially somewhat transparent cyborg played by Alicia Vikander. As you'd expect, the tension ratchets in the closed surroundings.

Probably the last proper gag in the movie is in the first 20 minutes, when Gleeson gets his pass into the billionaire's science hideout.

After that, it's all set in a secluded high-tech designer-cool secure laboratory in a lush wilderness of mountains and streams. There's a strong storyline that certainly had me thinking about the themes.

Garland previously adapted the Ishiguro story 'Never Let Me Go' which I though was a superbly haunting movie, and there are some similarly big questions in this one. I can't really say much more without spoiling the plot, but it's one I enjoyed and will probably watch again.

(sorry if you need to skip a particularly long youtube BMW supermodel advert before the trailer starts)

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