Film Review: 'Ex Machina'
April 23, 2015 6:22 a.m.
KPBS film Critic Beth Accomando reviews "Ex Machina."
Related Story: 'Ex Machina' Serves Up Cerebral Sci-Fi
ANCHOR INTRO: Movies have had a long fascination with robots and artificial intelligence. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says the new film Ex Machina (pronounce MAH-KEEN-AH) uses state of the art special effects to deliver a smart new take on A-I.
Caleb’s a young programmer just recruited by his reclusive genius boss Nathan to administer the Turing test to Nathan’s latest AI creation.
CLIP Do you have a name… yes, I’m Ava
The Turing Test assesses a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior on par with that of a human. But Caleb worries that Nathan has biased the results by making Ava beautiful and flirtatious.
CLIP Did you program her to like me?... I programmed her to be heterosexual just like you were programed to be heterosexual… No one programmed me to be straight… You think you had a choice? Of course you were programmed, by nature or by nurture or by both.
The antagonistic relationship between Caleb and Nathan provides the perfect battleground for ideas. Caleb brings a sense of morality to the playing field suggesting it's one's ability to distinguish right from wrong that makes us human. But perhaps it’s a will to survive that proves our defining trait and the one that drives Ava to develop a sophisticated intelligence.
The film marks the directorial debut of writer Alex Garland, who wrote 28 Days Later. He delivers a smart and surprisingly assured sci-fi thriller that explores how we define being human.
"Ex Machina" is a stylish film that resists sentimentality in favor of invigorating intellectual debate.
Beth Accomando, KPBS News.