Ex Machina, a reasonably slick, reasonable interesting sci-fi movie about the plausibility and applicability of artificial intelligence, raises one very important question: shouldn’t all sci-fi movies have spontaneous choreographed dance breaks in the middle?
The answer, of course, is yes. The answers to other questions raised by the movie are more nebulous, questions like “Did this reclusive, slightly nutty billionaire of a Google-like corporation (Oscar Isaac) actually create artificial intelligence?” “Will the very smart programmer (Domhnall Gleason)who may or may not have been randomly selected to evaluate the AI (Alicia Vikander, as the robot) determine that it passes a Turing test?” “What happens if the AI passes?” and, naturally, “What happens if it doesn’t?”
It’s a fine premise and some reasonably interesting things happen because of it. It’s just… so… art-housey. It’s not as bad as last year’s Under the Skin (which I liked, for the record), but there’s a similar vibe sometimes. It feels less like it’s deliberately-paced and more like there’s some kind of cap on the amount of excitement we’re allowed at any one time. Every time something interesting happens, it feels like it hits some kind of a ceiling and stops. So much more could have been done.
But what’s done isn’t bad. In particular, the acting is really delightful. I was a sucker for Oscar Isaac after exactly one movie, but this cements my ridiculous fawning adoration. And Domhnall Gleason! He’s adorable, and delightful, and consistently adorable and delightful in everything I’ve seen him in (to date: About Time, Frank. I am told he also appeared in one or more Harry Potter films; despite my close association with that nerdy, nerdy fandom, I’ve only seen two of those movies). Alicia Vikander is also awesome, and it is not her fault that the CG slips every so often so it looks like her skin-forehead is not connected to her robot-scalp.
Mostly, it’s a movie about three people in a series of conversations, and it’s good at that. Also, really pretty to look at. Whoever wants to give me a house like Nathan (Oscar Isaac)’s in the movie is perfectly welcome.