'Ex Machina': Standout Sci-Fi Film About Artificial Intelligence Ex Machina is a smart film that's both futuristic and completely plausible. It's capable of thinking big thoughts and providing pulp thrills. It's written and directed by Alex Garland.
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'Ex Machina': Standout Sci-Fi Film About Artificial Intelligence

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'Ex Machina': Standout Sci-Fi Film About Artificial Intelligence

Review

Movie Reviews

'Ex Machina': Standout Sci-Fi Film About Artificial Intelligence

'Ex Machina': Standout Sci-Fi Film About Artificial Intelligence

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/398704217/398704218" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Ex Machina is a smart film that's both futuristic and completely plausible. It's capable of thinking big thoughts and providing pulp thrills. It's written and directed by Alex Garland.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

What you're about to hear will sound like a real human being delivering a movie review. Kenneth Turan reviews "Ex Machina" about artificial intelligence.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Ex Machina" is a smart film that's both futuristic and completely plausible. It's capable of thinking big thoughts and providing pulp thrills. Even more than that, as written and directed by Alex Garland, it's an intense human drama centering on a trio of individuals. One of them just happens to be machine-made. "Ex Machina" begins with Caleb Smith, played by the open-faced Domhnall Gleeson. He's just won a lottery to spend a week with his boss, a brilliant, reclusive, fabulously wealthy Internet CEO Nathan Bateman, played by Oscar Isaac. As soon as he gets there, Nathan hits him with a question.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EX MACHINA")

OSCAR ISAAC: (As Nathan Bateman) Do you know what the Turing test is?

DOMHNALL GLEESON: (As Caleb Smith) Yeah. I know what the Turing test is. It's when a human interacts with a computer, and if the human doesn't know they're interacting with a computer, the test is passed.

TURAN: Yes, Nathan has created an artificially intelligent being named Ava, played by Alicia Vikander. And Caleb is there to determine if Ava is capable of experiencing real emotions or just simulating them. Here's how they meet.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EX MACHINA")

ALICIA VIKANDER: (As Ava) Hello.

GLEESON: (As Caleb Smith) Hi. I'm Caleb.

VIKANDER: (As Ava) Hello, Caleb.

GLEESON: (As Caleb Smith) Do you have a name?

VIKANDER: (As Ava) Yes - Ava.

GLEESON: (As Caleb Smith) I'm pleased to meet you, Ava.

TURAN: One reason for "Ex Machina's" success is that Ava herself, in terms of design, acting and special-effects technology, is a remarkable and compelling creation. Ava intentionally looks different from other robots we've seen. And actress Vikander is trained as a ballerina, so she's capable of unsettling precise movements that convincingly position Ava as a combination of human and machine. As Ava and Caleb chat, banter, even flirt, their personal connection strengthens, which raises some tantalizing questions - what are the implications, the responsibilities, the consequences of getting emotionally involved with a machine? It's all calculated to keep us off balance and unsettled from beginning to end. In a film like "Ex Machina," that's just the way it should be.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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