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Tag Archive: Alex Garland


Ex Machina trailer

Jurassic Park was not only Michael Crichton’s most popular novel, it finally allowed him to synthesize all the elements he had worked out over the course of his career into a perfect story.  Crichton could easily have been the writer behind the examination of man vs. machine that is this year’s big screen release Ex Machina, now in Digital HD and Blu-ray.  Writer-director Alex Garland (28 Days Later) could have taken us on another bland adventure about man’s fascination with technology and mortality, but instead he creates a morality play that is eerily simple yet surprisingly profound.  Behind Ex Machina is a modern Victor Frankenstein complete with a reclusive laboratory and spectacular creations.  Oscar Isaac (Sucker Punch, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) is Nathan, the uber-wealthy CEO inventor atop a Google-inspired enterprise, who secretly is using his company’s collective search data to create artificial intelligence–and more.  Is he the classic mad scientist?

In the spirit of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, Nathan launches a contest for employees with the prize being a weeklong visit to his own Skywalker Ranch.  The winner is the smart and amiable Caleb, played by Domnhall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Star Wars: The Force Awakens).  All is not what it seems.  Someone here is being played and it’s for the audience to figure it all out.  Nathan has really brought Caleb to his lair to test out his new humanoid robot, Ava, played by Alicia Vikander (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Seventh Son), and give her a battery of ad hoc tests to see if she passes the Turing test–to confirm whether Nathan has really created the ultimate intelligent machine.  Loosely inspired by more than one classic fairy tale, the seemingly simple story and strange circumstances quickly grow dark.  Who is manipulating who?

Isaac and Gleeson

Garland doesn’t need to rely on his fascinating, humanoid, robotic creations–arguably cybernetic or borg, and eminently believable–to carry the picture.  Its backbone is a well-paced story with a satisfying payoff.  Fans of Neill Blomkamp will love Garland’s study of class and society in the post-modern future: relations between employee and boss, scientist and subject, and master and servant.  In a world of secrets and locked doors, who can you trust?

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Ava from Ex Machina - borg

Not to be confused with Brian K. Vaughan’s successful alternate world comic book series, a very different Ex Machina will soon be on the big screen at a theater near you.  From first-time director Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, comes what appears to be a very incredible looking sci-fi movie with a creepy, suspense-filled twist.  And it will prep viewers for Star Wars Episode VII with two male leads who soon will star in that eagerly awaited film.

The latest borgs to be interpreted to screen conjure other recent attempts to show us our future via bipedal, human-robot beings.  We saw similar, incredibly rendered borg with Spielberg and Kubrick’s A.I., Artificial Intelligence, with Will Smith in I, Robot, and more recently in the Bruce Willis pic Surrogates and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.  Now meet Ava, played by Alicia Vikander (The Fifth Estate), the latest wonder in sci-fi filmmaking, and the invention of reclusive CEO genius Nathan Bateman, played by Oscar Isaac (Robin Hood, and Star Wars Episode VII).  

Ex Machina fembot

Bateman plucks Caleb Smith, played by Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, and Star Wars Episode VII), a programmer at his company to test the humanity of Ava and we’re guessing some secret twists are hiding behind the curtain.  Will she be an emotional Replicant or a deceptive fembot?

Check out this first trailer for Ex Machina:

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