I thought Cigar Lounge would be a cool place for movie reviews/discussions, so here goes my attempt at a brief review of Ex Machina. I'll avoid major spoilers since 'Muricaland doesn't get this movie until April.
The story centres on the founder of a search engine company reminiscent of Google (Nathan), with genius level intellect's attempt at creating artificial intelligence. He invites an employee (Caleb) to his secluded home to help test whether a robot of his own design (Ava) has achieved conciousness, or is just effectively simulating it.
From there the film becomes a kind of psychological thriller, which gradually develops into a fairly cerebral experience. This is due to the mind games that arise from analysing a being that may be thinking and feeling, or could simply be following the programming assigned by it's creator. The fact that Nathan's character becomes more questionable ethically as the movie progresses helps keep the viewer guessing.
The backbone of the plot is Caleb's daily interactions with Ava and the attempt at creating a personal relationship between the two. This relationship even becomes somewhat affectionate, which takes a toll on Caleb as he feels conflicted as to whether Ava has real feelings for him, or Nathan has programmed her to appeal to his sexuality. These scenes could easily have become repetitive or dull, with some of them essentially being the two sat in chairs facing one another while they interact, but the quality of the writing and acting meant that none of this tested my (really terrible) attention span. In fact it was quite the opposite, the chemistry between the two really lent a greater sense of tension as to what was going to transpire next.
As there are only three significant speaking parts in the movie, the rest of the movie studies the conversations between Caleb and Nathan. While these become more and more interesting as the movie develops, in my opinion Nathan's initial characterisation is one of the weaker parts of the movie. He seems to take on the over-confident but socially unusual "Tony Stark" persona that has been used in movies so many times before, which can feel a little jarring compared to the rest of the movie. However he soon sheds this as the plot morphs from him simply showing off and testing the technology he has developed, to exploring his feelings towards the AI and the darker side of his personality.
The ethical treatment of entities with artificial intelligence is particularly fascinating as the characters clash on what is acceptable. This is especially shown in some quite disturbing scenes which involve robots designed and used for subservient and sexual purposes, that appear to have their own intelligence. Despite the enthusiastic exclamation of someone leaving the cinema "uhuhuh there were tits!" the nudity of the robots and depiction of them is intentionally designed to make the audience uncomfortable. This helps add to the chilling atmosphere the movie creates as it builds to it's climax.
All in all there's plenty to like in these movie and the underlying emotional tension that moves the plot along is very well crafted. I may sound a little like I'm not being critical enough but I genuinely found little to dislike in this movie. I'd highly reccomend seeing it.