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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Beware the model fair

Ex Machina (2015) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Twenty-six-year-old search engine coder Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) is selected to spend a week­end with Blue­book's (Google's successor) CEO Nathan Bate­man (Oscar Isaac) in his mountain eerie. It's isolated, his bed­room furnished modern Spartan (“bath­room, little dresser, cup­boards, little fridge.”) I think it's the lights that won't let him sleep at night. Fluores­cents, compact fluores­cents, and device screens contain too much blue spectrum (for evening) that inter­feres with human sleep cycles. Camp­fires, candles, (yellowish) incan­descent bulbs and red lights—that come on during power failures—don't inter­fere so much before bed­time. People instinctively were reluctant to switch to the more energy efficient CFB's, so the (U.S.) govern­ment has legis­lated the old kind off the market. At any rate canny Nathan sees the writing on the wall, human beings are so inef­ficient that: “One day the A.I.'s are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinc­tion.” He believes it's not a matter of if the A.I.'s will take over but when. Won't the govern­ment protect us? Yeah, like they did from the blue bulbs.

Nathan is a genius inventor wanting to be first to make an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) android. His latest model named “Ava” (Alicia Vikander) is border­line pass­able for human, so he's done away with her flesh-tone camouflage (except for face, hands & feet) so she couldn't blend in should she ever escape. Escape is unlikely anyway as his “research facility” is sub­ter­ranean sectioned off by elec­tronic locks responding to security keys of various levels. The only access is by heli­copter whose remote landing field is not marked in any way. There are miles of wilder­ness all around with nary a power source any­where if one of his bots flew the coop. Further­more, he has made them frail and he him­self works out, so they're physic­ally easy to handle. No, Nathan doesn't want to be the man respon­sible for humanity's doom.

It reminds me of the “Peanuts” cartoon of Snoopy and the Red Baron. Snoopy is deadly serious about his upcoming battle with the WW I flying ace, and he spends countless cartoons in preparation and anticipation of this dog­fight from another era. Should one ever occur, it would be brief, brutal, and decisive. All we see, though, is a beagle with a vivid imagination and a dog­house with mysterious bullet holes in it.

Caleb is there to conduct an augmented Turing Test—named after mathematician Alan Turing who was featured in the movie “The Imitation Game”—to see if Ava is dis­ting­uish­able as a sentient being. Caleb is “a good kid, with a moral compass, no family, no girl­friend.” Ava is anatomic­ally correct and hetero­sexual. If Nathan is Snoopy and A.I. the Red Baron, then Caleb is Charlie Brown and Ava is Lucy. When Caleb and Ava agree to do some­thing together, it's inter­esting to see if "Lucy" will co-operate or if she'll pull the foot­ball away to let "Charlie Brown" land on his back.

As much as I enjoy science and Sci-Fi, I'm not sure if this week is going to prove very much. Look at it from a reverse perspective: If a couple of geeks took their girl­friends on a retreat for a week and one of those guys got the shaft and the other was dumped, could we conclude the girls were bitches cold as ice? or is that just what happens to geeks in that situation?


Nathan has one character flaw, he drinks too much. He could be the troubled subject of a lecture. (Prov. 23:29- 30) He's at it long enough to put him out of commission. (Prov. 23:31-32) It comes back to bite him. (Prov. 23:33-34) It leaves him open to desiring “strange women.” And (Prov. 23:35) he could get hurt on a sushi knife and not even feel it.

Nathan is the CEO of a dominant Internet company, and his research is cutting edge. You'd expect more of him as a tech­nology leader. (1Cor. 9:24-25) “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” Temperance means moderation in thought, feeling, and action. The ordinary Christian should take some­thing away with him from the lesson of the CEO who drank to excess. In a world that challenges Christian, cultural, and traditional values, where we now have blue light bulbs, black presidents, and bloodied police­men (and who knows what blarney is coming next?), where a 2016 presidential contender gave a speech saying we need to get away from our cherished cultural and traditional values, and from deep seated religious beliefs, I'd say con­serva­tives are going to be on the defensive. Fine, but let them not forget moderation. If we don't want to be counted a people “with crude language and tools, all set for extinc­tion” why, for instance, do we dumb down our Bibles from the reliable and elegant KJV by immoderately retrans­lating the whole book instead of just consulting a dictionary when we come across an unfamiliar word?

Production Values

Ex Machina” (2015) was written and directed by Alex Garland. It's title Ex Machina is from Latin, lit. "from a machine," referring to a trope used in Greek theater where a god would descend on a rope to resolve a hope­lessly convoluted plot. It could refer here to an A.I. emissary from the "gods" plopped down among us, in our hard-to-fathom complex world, for what­ever reason should she ever escape the research facility. Or maybe not, I have no inside know­ledge. The movie stars Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, and Oscar Isaac who gave excellent performances, as well as from Sonoya Mizuno as Nathan's mute Japanese maid Kyoko.

The MPAA rated it R for graphic nudity, language, sexual references and some violence. It was filmed in England, UK. It's a sparse 108 min. long. It's more of a contem­plative, indie-style, art film rather than an intrusive Holly­wood flick with bells & whistles. It's a good looking film on account of the location, and the splendid cinema­tog­raphy doesn't hurt it any. The action scene at the end of the movie is like in a military venture where long periods of boredom culminate in quick, brutal, decisive action. The pacing is at a steady rhythm, which allows subtleties to be introduced. The art design covers for the Sci-Fi failings of the script. Geoff Barrow and Ben Salis­bury's dissonant musical score adds an atmospheric touch of ambiance also enhancing the tension.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I think “Ex Machina” is an excellent cautionary tale to encourage success-oriented conservatives to practice temperance. How­ever, the R rating on account of immoderate material might discourage such a target audience from viewing it in the first place. It works well as a Sci-Fi art film in its own right. If you fall asleep during the picture, the ending might wake you up if you've got one eye open. I loved it, but then I'm easy to please and not overly picky.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scene. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.