Ex Machina Review — Plastic Indie Hit

This is the next revolutionary sci-fi film? Really?

Either I wasn’t paying enough attention or the world has suddenly gone insane, because I never heard of Ex Machina prior to its release. Part of my indifference may be due to the fact that I don’t really care about Alex Garland – Dredd being the only thing of his I’ve liked, and it’s hard to say how much my enjoyment of that campy spectacle came from him to begin with – but the real big reason is that it just never got any real buzz from the movie hangouts I frequent, and it doesn’t help that the new Avengers film will be coming out the week after. And believe me, there are quite a few reviews noting that fact whilst telling Ultron to move over for the real sci-fi spectacle, calling it the next Blade Runner/Her. Yeah, and 28 Days Later is the modern-day successor to Dawn of the Dead that horror fans deserved.

I don’t think I’m going to surprise anyone when I say that I don’t get the appeal of this movie in any way. If anything, it brought me back to the time when I watched Being John Malkovich, and I hated Being John Malkovich. First off, the film isn’t original on a concept-level. On it’s own, that’s not a real criticism against the film. Her and District 9 have had concepts that have been done before and originality is overrated anyways. But in terms of execution – which a lot of reviews are praising – not only is it not original, but it combines that dry indie presentation that I hate but everyone else seems to like with that “not as smart and actually kind of exploitative” style of storytelling that I also hate but everyone else also seems to like to the point that this movie was doomed to get backlashed by me within the first second.

This movie is incredibly dialogue-driven and it’s so bad at making said dialogue engaging that I actually fell asleep an hour into the thing. The problem with it is that over 90% of the content consists of tired discussions regarding what it means for artificial life to be human and such with the irony being that it’s really a discussion on what qualifies as being human itself. That sort of plot is more unoriginal than turning Superman evil (or fat for that matter) and there’s only one kinda unique thing beneath the dialogue that gives it its own identity. Unfortunately, said unique thing is not that engaging either. A lot of have people praised the tension generated by said “thing”, but I couldn’t feel it for the life of me due to how dry and mundane the presentation was. And even if I could feel it, I could care less about what resulted from it.

Without giving too much away, the only reason all that boring dialogue existed in the first place was to setup the final act. In other words, Ex Machina might as well be a VN adaptation, let alone one written by Naotaka Hayashi. And just like a VN adaptation, it falls apart and gives me an incredibly cheap ending that not only fails to justify the buildup, it’s crap on its own. Let me put it this way: do you remember Being John Malkovich’s ending? It played a large part in why I hated that movie, and the reason was that it unnecessarily shat on the only character I found sympathetic in the film with any message we were supposed to take from said decision being too underdeveloped to qualify as anything other than shock. And I can’t for the life of me understand whatever profound thing we’re supposed to take from Ex Machina’s version of it. I remember reading an interview where Garland stated how he hoped his movie would make people embrace AI, but all I got from this movie is that AI is f*cking evil and will never bend to humanity’s will and pretty much everything Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey defined back in the 70s. And I needed to watch an hour and a half of two men spouting the same old “she’s a robot/she’s alive” shit, why?

So if the plot is boring, the story is boring, the tension is poorly applied, and the only likable characters are the ones who get screwed, what else is there? Well okay, I’m going to have to admit that the movie and the technology displayed in it is nice to look at, but you can say that about every bad sci-fi movie these days. Seriously, Chappie did a better job at exploring its sci-fi themes than this movie did, and it communicated said message with explosions to boot. And no, that’s not a personal preference or anything. It’s the truth. Why did that movie even receive the critical paddling it got whilst this crap gets off scot-free?

PS: If anyone wants to correct me regarding the overall story of this movie, feel free to do so. Because I for the life of me couldn’t find anything worthwhile.

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