It seems like every decade or so, there is (at least) one sci-fi movie, that breaks the “barrier” of what sci-fi film usually is (or what it *should* be) and does it in its own, usually fairly quiet, grounded way. You could argue Blade Runner (1982) was a different sci-fi than what the general public was used to at that time, the same way Gattaca (1997) also dared to be different and sneaked under the radar for plenty of people, as it was a distinctive kind of sci-fi – not as flashy as other movies in the same genre, and almost too quiet.
Ex Machina falls into that category too. I remember hearing a lot of really great things about this movie when it came out, and my very first time, my expectations might have been way too high, so even though I really liked it, (I’ve rated it 8/10 at the time) I didn’t quite *love* it as others. And I couldn’t understand why, as it seemed like my kind of movie – quiet, really down to earth movie, with one not so sci-fi idea (as said in the movie, “the question of artificial intelligence is not IF, rather than WHEN) executed perfectly with phenomenal performances by three stellar actors. And it even has a fairly unexpected ending…
But maybe it was that uniqueness I wasn’t prepared for – maybe I had expected a different kind of sci-fi and what I’ve gotten was so different, I didn’t know how to “approach” it. Well, that’s why I’ve decided to re-watch this movie, to see where I stand now, a few years since my first watch. And, no surprise here, the movie played even better than the first time around. Ex Machina is almost a miracle, as this could’ve gone wrong so many different times. While re-watching it, I’ve noticed how any lesser filmmaker would have been so tempted to make this more dramatic, or add a twist or two to make it “more interesting”, but this movie is so confident with itself, it never does that. It’s like hanging out with somebody, who knows they are cool, but because of them knowing, they never have to tell you “You know, I’m pretty cool.” I think this might be the best way of describing this movie – confident within itself, slick, cool “little” film, that managed to not only be entertaining, but also has managed something, that nobody seen coming – winning the “Best Achievement in Visual Effects” the same year The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road and fucking Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens were up for the same award.
I am still shocked by that, to be honest, as I have never thought I would see a sci-fi movie with a budget of “measly” $15.000.000 beating the multi-million dollar machine such as Star Wars in THAT category. To be fair, Ex Machina is a stunning movie to look at, and for a movie where Alicia Vikander (she was snubbed at the Oscars for that year, in my humble opinion) spends most of it as a “see-through” AI, the movie does feel realistic, that you don’t even question it after a while and just except the fact that yes, that’s how Alicia exists and she’s probably an AI in her real life.
Even though I am much more “sold” on this movie, there is still something, that tiny, final piece of a puzzle, that still needs to fit someplace, that separates me from giving this movie the ultimate rating and I still don’t know what it is exactly. All I know is this – Ex Machina for me, is a near perfect movie, that I liked the first time I’ve seen it, and really liked the second time I’ve re-watched it. Who knows? Maybe, when I watch it again, couple of years down the line, I will finally appreciate it fully…? It’s more than likely. But I can recommend this film to anybody, who enjoys sci-fi movies, especially those, that don’t need big budget or flashy effects to entertain you for almost two hours. Because sometimes, all you need is three brilliant actors, one gorgeous, but slightly claustrophobic house and beautiful piece of nature to contrast with the technology, to make something you won’t forget any time soon.
That’s all for this one! Did you see it? What did you think about it? Let me know!
Until next time,