Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

Reviewed by:

When Caleb, a nobody programmer at a Big Tech firm is invited to the isolated home of the company’s CEO, he has no idea that he will serve as the examiner in a test of an advanced artificial intelligence developed by the CEO. Will Caleb believe that AI is capable of thoughts, feelings and consciousness even though he is aware it is artificial? As Caleb and the AI get to know each other, a bond forms that will set in motion a sequence of events going much further than the CEO had anticipated.

I haven’t heard anyone talk about this movie, probably ever. It is also nearly 10 years old. So… why am I reviewing it? Because it is a rare example of a thoughtful sci-fi movie and for that alone, it deserves more attention than it gets.

The best thing about Ex Machina is that it is a science fiction film that takes a philosophical approach. I feel that most science fiction is mostly an excuse for flashy action scenes and big explosions. Ex Machina is different. It is much more thoughtful and slow-moving, even verging on horror at times when the suspense builds up. That is not to say that it is not engaging – I think right up until the climax, Ex Machina is very well paced.

The most disappointing thing about Ex Machina is probably that the philosophical questions it asks are literally as old as the genre: if she were still alive, Mary Shelley might have sued for copyright infringement of Frankenstein.

Does that take away from the enjoyment of watching the movie? I guess for me it did somewhat – the familiarity of the plot made the whole movie somewhat forgettable. It is perhaps not quite the conversation starter I feel it intended to be. Then again, not everyone has seen/read as much science fiction as I have, and to many others, Ex Machina might actually break new ground.

And the interesting thing is that Ex Machina is actually an eminently watchable introduction to a genre that might push many people away with constantly glorified violence. Put somewhat un-woke, this is a sci-fi movie that your girlfriend might actually want to watch.

And while the plot is not new, Ex Machina does a quality retelling of that familiar struggle. The script (particularly the dialogue) is strong. There are only a handful of characters (three, or four, depending on how you count), each of which is very well portrayed. Their interactions, which are at the core of the movie, are believable and constantly filled with tension. There are no good guys, no bad guys, just characters and the viewer’s own judgment.

So, despite being 10 years old and mostly forgotten, Ex Machina might actually scratch an itch that only gets scratched very rarely. Don’t miss out!

Share this post: