Review written by Anthony Tyson 4/27/15
I'll be honest. When I had watched the trailer for this film, I knew I was going to like it. Beautiful robots, smart AI, concepts of singularity, philosophy, individuality, Oscar Isaac(a.k.a. Po Damorund in the next Star Wars movie); whats not to like here? What I didn't know however, is that I would love this film. It might just be one of the best films for this year, and I'm making this statement with full awareness that I haven't seen the upcoming big blockbusters this year yet. The characters, the tone, and the plot in this film are all incredible. Everything just works together, and the result is an experience that leaves with you as you exit the Theater.
The plot revolves around a coder Caleb, and his interactions with two other main characters Nathan and Ava. Caleb, who works at a fictionalized version of Google, wins a contest at his workplace that grants him a weekend with the company's founder: Nathan. Upon meeting the prodigious billionaire in his estate, he asked by Nathan to partake in a series of Turing tests, specifically designed to test a computer to see if it is a true AI. If the computer can convince someone that it is not a computer, it passes. The plot revolves around these tests of Ava, and really starts to thicken when she begins to put forth her own series of tests. Seduction, wit, lies, truth; these are all put forth and sets forward a chain of events that you will not see coming. As Caleb, Ava, and Nathan all try to test one another, it feels as if the audience itself is being tested. The plot always feels like it is moving forward, and I love how the movie reaches its tumultuous end.
Simply stunning. The stark contrast of beauty and eeriness, really works for this film. As the cameras pan through the immaculate hallways of the estate(or 'research facility'), they invoke a sense of dread through wide shots, contrast colors in moments of suspense, and through the heavy and dark soundtrack that is playing. The aforementioned soundtrack especially enhances the mood, as the use of both light musical cues and heavy chords, alternates you through feelings of safety and of dread. Ava herself is a walking analogy of this, and she is set to stimulate a lot of these tonal fluxes in scenes. The Cameramen did a phenomenal job in capturing this, as even the slight twitches that the actress put in Ava's character don't go unnoticed.
Having the focus on three characters is only rewarding if the characters are very compelling. Good news, they are damn compelling. These characters evolve as the story does, and you fall out of love and back in love with them accordingly. The suspense is palpable as biting dialogue between characters constantly has you (the audience) questioning their motives and intent. Caleb is good heartened, but will he do the 'Right' thing? Nathan is a prodigy, creating the most significant breakthrough in history; but for what purpose does he create? Ava is beautiful, intelligent and charming, but can she be trusted? These three characters are all well acted; Domhall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaac are to be commended for their performances.
This movie was a great one, and I have now seen it twice. Even the second time you get something new out of it, as you know experience the movie with the knowledge of what happens next. It allows you to appreciate the deep philosophy with even more awareness. I was also surprised by the amount of foreshadowing that I previously hadn't noticed with the first viewing. Directer Alex Garland did a phenomenal job of hiding those moments, and you realize that this movie was not only successful at great intellectual Sci-Fi; but as a damn good suspenseful Thriller too. As this movie is a smaller film, its bound to not get as much traffic with the Avengers movie on the horizon, but I think this is a movie that should be seen as well as Avengers. It is a great movie, and I think you are doing yourself some injustice if you dont catch this one.
A must watch movie. Go to a theater that's playing this immediately!!!!! Its worth every penny.