Alex Garland is an excellent writer. The screenwriter behind Never Let Me Go, 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Dredd has tremendous range, and the fact that he can go from breaking your heart with a tragic Kazuo Ishiguro adaptation to writing a ridiculously good action movie shows he has discovered few limits so far. Some may argue he has a problem landing third acts, but those final 30 minutes of Sunshine are completely built up to and valid. Seriously.
Garland tackles high-concepts with real humanity, and his characters are generally as fascinating as his big ideas. He may strike that balance once again with his directorial debut, Ex Machina. The sci-fi film stars Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Domhnall Gleeson (In Time) and Alicia Vikander (Anna Karenina). Gleeson plays Caleb, a coder who wins a contest to spend time with a private CEO, Nathan (Isaac), and his A.I. creation. When Caleb arrives at Nathan’s home he’s awe-struck by what he finds… but that sense of wonder soon turns to horror.
Checkout the trailer released by A24 to see why.
A sexually charged story between man and machine? That may be a reductive description of Ex Machina, but it’s certainly a fresh approach to a movie dealing with artificial intelligence. There’s always the question in these kinds of films whether a robot knows how to love someone or some thing, but what about sex? The A.I., Ava (Vikander), certainly plays with this techy dweeb’s emotions and, considering he’s a nerd, potential fantasies. Ava is certainly striking in this trailer in part because she’s clearly more than just a special effect. From the very start of her ominous introduction she’s already made out to be a character instead of merely a CGI creation.
Ex Machina may look like a directorial debut in the sense that it mainly focuses on three characters in one location, but visually Garland’s work appears controlled and vibrant. The cinematography and production design highlighted in this trailer are immersive, and the simplicity and warmness of the set and location draw us in as they promise to amplify the horrific turns ahead.
What’s not-so-horrific is that shot of Oscar Isaac dancing. Is there anything that guy can’t do?
Ex Machina hits theaters April 10th, 2015.