The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Ex Machina (A24)
Written & Directed by Alex Garland
I did not like this movie. Ex Machina starts off with promise and gets better and better and better as it goes along and then… I’m not going to spoil it. Because it’s interesting enough up until the end. Ex Machina is the story of four individuals alone in a futuristic underground mansion for seven days. It’s a science fiction fantasy of a breakthrough in Artificial Intelligence. Actually, I really liked it up until the ending. I can’t stress that enough. I liked it a lot. The ending is so bad. So many potholes. So stupid. So what I’m going to do, in honor of four fifths of the movie being pretty damn good is that I will review this film with four spoiler free paragraphs and then one paragraph that will be a spoiler filled rant about how stupid the ending was. Don’t worry. It will be clearly marked.
Verdict: SPOILED (but not yet)
First of all, the performances in Ex Machina are pretty fantastic from all four of the principles. Oscar Isaac once again plays a completely unlikable guy. I don’t think he can ever truly play the good guy. I don’t know what it is about him that makes him so damn unlikable. But it’s so easy to hate him in everything. He’s a great actor though. Unless of course he really is an unlikable douche. Isaac plays the ungodly wealthy genius inventor and CEO of a future Google-Facebook-Twitter combination killer who is also a bit of a recluse. Which is a stretch for him except for the fact that this guy is extremely unlikable.
Alicia Vikander plays the AI- robot- android with a sweetness that’s heartbreaking. Domhnall Gleeson plays the young programmer tasked with testing her AI (you might remember him from the movie Frank… he plays the same sort of guy in this) and Sonoyo Mizuna plays the housemaid slash Gal Friday. And all three of them are very good. But Oscar Isaac is head and shoulders over the rest of the cast and it’s obvious even though they more than hold their own. It fits the movie though because he’s the man in charge.
Since Ex Machina takes place in the future and we’re not sure how long in the future, I can forgive its leaps of fantasy with AI and robotics and the technologies. It is a science fiction fantasy. And it grabbed my attention and held my attention right up until the end. It made me think. made me sad. Made me frightened. It’s very interesting. But there’s just a few too many open plotholes at the end. (we’ll get to those) It feels like the director (Alex Garland who also wrote it) was going for that 70’s sci-fi creepy ending without realizing that we already lived through that, rented it, saw it on cable. That’s been done. It’s too open. You need to finish the damn story. But I’m not going to give it away.
Again, I enjoyed Ex Machina up until the very end, that left me wanting. The plot holes created by the end, that left me wondering. And Oscar Isaac’s performance at the end, that left me wishing he would play Al Pacino’s son in a movie. (I’m telling you it would be awesome. Al Pacino’s still working right?) But if you like stories about robots and artificial intelligence, Ex Machina is a very nice beginning to one. The special effects are decent if not a little creepy and the performances and the writing are very good. But I felt like the director tried too hard to creep-out the audience at times. And of course the ending which I did not like at all but I think you know that by now. However if AI is not your thing, I’d skip Ex Machina. It’s not a very good movie. It’s a very good concept with a bad finish.
Here we go
I had a bunch of problems with the logistics of the mansion. With the escape plan. With the AI herself and the ending. Let’s start with the mansion. The doors locking when the power goes off is monumentally stupid and no engineer in the world would live in a prison that became a coffin whenever the power fails. The character is not stupid. Also the madness of his fully stocked home office having no clear way of receiving supplies. Where does he get eggs and milk. His maid bot is cooking meat. There would have to be a road. (the helicopter can’t bring it all). There’s no way to build a sprawling industrial complex without a fucking road to bring in building materials. (unless they built the place and then landscaped the surrounding area for miles). We haven’t even gotten to the plot yet. The kid re-programs the computer to unlock the doors when the power cuts off. It’s fantasy so perhaps there’s some magical way for the computer to unlock the doors without power. But since we learn that he did this the day before. That means that when she cuts the power, the day before, all the doors would have opened THE DAY BEFORE. Yet even if we accept this, then when she cuts the lights for the last time the doors should still be opening not locking. She didn’t reprogram a thing. It should have opened the doors. But let’s talk about our little crystal goddess now. How the hell does she know where the helicopter is? How the hell did she turn a pleasure bot into a killer with whispers and tapping? Why does the skin of obsolete models fit her perfectly? Not caring what happens to the kid and burying him alive are two different things. And if she has had these magical powers all this time… You know what forget it. All of it really annoyed me. But worse, if she’s so good at planning and deceiving and all that, how come she couldn’t see past standing in a crowded airport people watching with no place to go. Write your own ending?Sure why not. That won’t last very long. Because a disoriented woman without identification of any kind will be discovered as a killer android the first time someone tries to take her blood pressure. Or she shatters like glass after being knocked to the ground. Sorry. Maybe I’m just nitpicking.
Ex Machina is a great movie up until the end.
Now I’m done.