Ex Machina – Movie Review

Ex Machina

Ex Machina

This is a heady science fiction film.  Before people reach for the X button on their browser, good science fiction is neither about science nor about fiction.  It’s about us. To alleviate any fears that may exist from the word heady, the film contains beer drinking, vodka drinking, nudity (female only) and a disco scene.  I can’t explain the last.

The script is basically a parlor-style mystery, but not a murder mystery. Take the 3 protagonists, lock them in a room together and enjoy all the twists, turns and hidden motivations of the characters until the story’s conclusion.  In this case, however, there is no Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot to help guide you through.  You’re left to your own devices to explore the mystery as it unfolds.

Reading other reviews and ratings, mostly everyone likes the movie. Typically, reviewers and users rate the movie around 9 on a 10 scale.  I liked the movie also.  Other reviews out there have more detail about the plot and characters.  I’ll keep it brief and simple below.  But as the author/director asks, is knowing too much about a movie before hand really the best way to see a movie?

The first, and central, character in the story is an eccentric, creative, genius, everyday-Joe, vodka and beer drinking, mega billionaire, internet search engine mogul.  He has created the second character, an artificial intelligence (AI) computer system which resides in a female robot (yes there is also robot nudity.)  With a secretly devised plan, he brings in the third character, an at first unknowing, seemingly naive, nerdy, nervous, computer programmer to help test his creation.  The locked room in which the story takes place is the mogul’s remote “lair” at the end of a miles-long glacier in a lush valley.

All this may sound patently ridiculous.  Remember, there’s a mystery story behind this.  Everyone loves a mystery.

For those interested, here’s the heady part of the movie.  Of the several reviews I’ve read no one touches this in any depth. After listening to a 38 minute interview with the author/director, he prefers not to speak about the ideas which underlie the movie.  I take all that as allowing me, and you, to draw our own underlying meanings.

The title, Ex Machina, pulls up in a search engine (yikes, just like the mogul’s) “deus ex machina”, which is an ancient Greek writing/theatrical device to introduce an unexpected unrelated ending into a story.  However there really is no surprise to the ending of this movie in the way the Greeks, or many others since, have used the term.  Then, why does the author title the movie Ex Machina?

The literal translation of deus ex machina (according to Wiki – yikes again) is “god from the machine.”  I’ll say no more, leaving the rest of this paragraph for you to complete once you’ve seen the movie.

Many people ask, should we be afraid of AI as it insidiously and inevitably invades our lives?  Yes.  Yes, not because AI is artificial and/or intelligent.  Yes, because AI, like science fiction, is not about either of the two words that make up the term.  It’s about us.


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5 Responses to “Ex Machina – Movie Review”

  1. vafann Says:

    I´m going to have to see this. Is it new? I hardly go the movies any more, I don´t know if it´s on Swedish Netflix, maybe I can rent it. 🙂


  2. M.R. Emberson Says:

    This film looks intriguing, and I hope to catch it at some point. Steveo, thanks for the review!


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