Ex Machina

Ex Machina ★★★★★

The reason that science fiction has become the most resonant genre of storytelling in the twenty-first century is because our contemporary culture is inundated with the desire to explore scientific possibilities. Gathering knowledge, conducting experiments and learning about the unknown are fundamental to the core of humanity's drive as scientific secularism becomes the primary mode of culture, which makes science fiction more relevant than ever.

This is why Ex Machina is not just a fantastic film, but an essential one. It perfectly encapsulates not just the importance of scientific discovery to the development of humanity, but why science and all aspects of culture have become so intertwined in our contemporary moment. At various points during the film, the audience is invited not just to watch a story unfold and therefore witness the scientific process at work, but also to be the scientist: to observe, to gather knowledge, to process, to learn, and to understand how and why the events that transpire reflect some of the most pressing and relevant questions that they are struggling with. Ex Machina raises fascinating questions about politics, intercultural relations, language, philosophy, emotional subjectivity, psychology, gender, sexuality, technological advancement and spirituality, all while being contained within a simple but always engaging story.

From a cinematic standpoint, the film does not have a single weak link. The direction and writing from Alex Garland is masterful, perpetually maintaining a balance of intrigue, suspense and payoff both with visuals and the script. The three principal performers, those being Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson, all utterly embody their roles, providing complex and riveting performances via a combination of voice and body language. The special effects have a remarkable sense of restraint about them, with the film having the intelligence to know that it does not need to liberally use spectacle to amaze, instead having a consistent and controlled visual aesthetic that makes it feel immediately unique. In terms of construction, Ex Machina is a gorgeous and incredibly well-crafted film.

Thoughtful, beautiful, confident, and daring, Ex Machina is an instant science fiction classic that will be remembered for many years to come.