"Ex Machina" is a surprisingly deep science fiction film. The Oscar-nominated special effects are stunning and give the story a truthful, believable sensation. There is never a point where you question whether Ava could actually exist. There is also never a point where you question whether the Ava that we see is actually a real robot. Her appearance is futuristic but modern, and her design is visually fascinating. Alicia Vikander is perfectly cast in this role. Most importantly, she has a youthful look that portrays innocence. This allows us to see the humanity of the robot and keeps us wondering if she can actually have romantic feelings. Her possible humanity is the key to this story and an intimidating, Schwarzenegger-esque AI certainly would not fit into this story. Vikander’s mastery of subtle movement convincingly paints her as a robot programmed to move like a human and her strong emotional performance further emphasizes her potential humanity. If her performance in “The Danish Girl” wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, she likely would have been nominated for this role. Her acting is contrasted by the bold acting of Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac. It was strange to see this pair together after seeing them in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” especially because they are playing very different characters. I loved Gleeson’s chemistry with Rachael McAdams in “About Time” and I feel the same about his chemistry with Vikander in this film. Who cares if it would be a human-robot relationship - we just want to see them get together! And Oscar Isaac makes a great instigator/bad guy, even though I prefer his nicer roles like in “Inside Llewyn Davis.” The most impressive part of this film is its Oscar-nominated screenplay. The film trades in the stereotypes of science fiction for believable concepts that are easily understood by any layman. The story is addictive and will have you constantly hypothesizing potential plot twists as the story unfolds. Even though you’ll think up several twists that would be great in a non-realistic sci-fi film, this realistic story has a thought-provoking conclusion that will keep you discussing it for days. There's a lot of nudity in this film but it doesn't seem like it because they are robots. Actually, it does seem like a lot of nudity and you should be prepared for that before seeing this movie. It's unfortunate because this could be a great film for teens if not for some unnecessary f-words and extended shots of full-frontal nudity. It fits the story but definitely goes beyond what is necessary. “Ex Machina” is fresh, exhilarating, and entirely unique. I would have preferred it without most of the objectionable content but I can’t help but be amazed by its visual effects and riveting story.
[Pictured: It’s difficult to look at Vikander and realize that she is not a real robot]