Can a machine learn to communicate like a human?
That’s a loose interpretation of the question to which The Turing Test is applied. Can a person create a machine which is indistinguishable from a human, judging strictly from interactions with the machine.
Artificial intelligence. Is it possible? If so, does that make the person who creates the machine akin to a god?
These are the topics explored in EX MACHINA, a great work of science fiction which I should have seen coming. The signs were there. The main sign I should have picked up on is Alex Garland. Though this was his first time directing a movie, it’s far from his first time writing one, and some of the previous films he was involved with were good, to say the least. Thought provoking. The characters were well defined and had depth. Sunshine. 28 Days Later. The Beach. Never Let Me Go. Even the remake of DREDD was far better than most expected, FAR exceeding anything its predecessor accomplished, in terms of both action and dialogue. It was a really good flick.
We see the story unfold through the eyes of Caleb, a computer programmer portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson who works at the fictional BlueBook, a Google-type company which evolved from its beginnings as an internet search-engine to be a global power in mobile phone operating systems among other technological advances. Oscar Isaac is Nathan, the eccentric genius founder of BlueBook. At the film’s start, we learn that Caleb has won a contest within his company, gifting him with the opportunity to spend a week with Nation in the founder’s remote home offices. Alicia Vikander portrays Ava, the machine upon whom Caleb is to analyze through a modified, week-long Turing Test. Her performance is spot-on, among the best work I’ve seen from someone portraying a machine, and her interactions with Domhnall Gleeson are especially interesting because they have considerable chemistry with one another, adding almost as much to the film as the words on the page.
Expectations were almost non-existent a couple weeks before its release. There was no buzz for this movie like there is for Avengers, Batman Vs Superman, the upcoming Star Wars film or even Pitch Perfect 2. I didn’t see a single commercial for the film before going to see it, only spotting great reviews for it on my site Half Popped Reviews. But ever since I walked out of that theater having witnessed one of the best sci-fi flicks of the past decade, I’ve tried to spread the word.
In terms of Artificial Intelligence playing a role in this film and how well it’s portrayed, I would put EX MACHINA up with 2001: A Space Odyssey and HER, both highly regarded films for how they portray sentient machines and their interactions with humans. Anyone fearing that this film will match the failings of Transcendence or Chappie won’t be disappointed if they take a chance on EX MACHINA.
My Rating: 95/100