Wednesday, 28 January 2015
REVIEW: EX MACHINA
108 Minutes. Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac & Alicia Vikander. Director: Alex Garland.
Do androids dream of this?! Today, science fiction seems to be at a whole new stage in this modern digital age. Today we can control almost everything and anything from just a tap and an app of a smartphone. Now in this comic-book, geek generation dominated by superheroes and apocalypse it's time we got even more from the cycle of cyborg cinema. Besides it's been awhile since 'I, Robot', even if this is the 'Age Of Ultron' with 'Pacific Rim' and 'Days Of Future Past' sentinel monster machines dominating like 'Godzilla's of the future. Since 'Metropolis' changed the game and genre way back in the jazz age of 1927, the fiction of science has been getting even closer to fact. Even 'District 9' and 'Elysium' director Neil Blomkamp has proven to be the modern day filmmaking equivalent of legendary sci-fi, future theory writer Phillip K. Dick. One of the forefathers of this genre and a man whose chapters have inspired decades of movies from 'Blade Runner' and 'Total Recall' to 'The Adjustment Bureau' and 'Minority Report'. In this 2014 of 'Big Hero 6', the friendly 'Chappie' looks to further the robotics and science of Blomkamp's South African work, but before that it's time for dynamite, dynamic director Alex Garland to have his say. The novel man who wrote the book 'The Beach' which gave new land to Leonardo DiCaprio's career and also the screenplay for Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later', a new look in Britain of an apocalyptic future. Now adding a new android theory to the ascent of man that will leave us slaves to our creations this is one of the most interesting and compelling looks at humanity and technology.
Dr. Satler in 'Jurassic Park' was right too. As man messes more and more with their own chaos theory of evolution it seems that women will inherit the earth. And that woman is, Alicia Vikander. No, not Natalie Portman, but Vikander. A young Swedish actress who made her mark in 'Anna Karenina' and 'The Fifth Estate', but now truly shining unsettlingly like Jack Nicholson in all her fibre optics. Playing the android 'Ava' and interacting with our lead and us in some 'Turing Tests', we too as audiences to this set-up will be fooled and convinced that this girl is as real as they come even though a human face is the only real flesh that covers a metallic frame. Still, not only does Vikander bring humanity and depth to this role reversal, she also motion captures and embodies the mannerisms of a robot perfectly, without breaking stride, face or character. It truly is a futuristic performance of the ages. From 'Runner' to 'Recall' you've never seen anything as con, convincing as this. K. Dick would be proud of this one. Looking more advanced than 'I, Robot' or the 'love app-ually' of last years SIRI, serious romance 'Her', this takes falling in love with something digital to a new, physical extreme. Actor Domhnall Gleeson need not apply for a 'Tinder' account as he's falling head over steel, stilettos heels in this theme of tech taking over real love. The 'Harry Potter' and 'About Time' star really goes boldly into the future here, like it was 'Star Trek' he was starring in next, not 'Star Wars'. Its an inspired performance of his own awareness and advancement on something that will fast-track his career to new levels. If you didn't think he was a real star then, after these tests you'll be convinced of how genuine he is now.
Still, in this Academy Award nominated picture of the future, its Gleeson's co-star and forthcoming 'Star Wars' one that is the true awakening force. Even without one, a true Oscar, Issac is the gold standard here. Its clear with these 'Robot Wars' the star ones and his own 'Apocalypse' of 'X-Men are in safe, but dark side of the Hollywood moon hands. Its refreshing in this industry when an actor goes from a household name to a legendary one in just two films, like a Chadwick Boseman (playing Jackie Robinson and James Brown in '42' and 'Get On Up' respectively) or another Oscar worthy talent. Here the former bit part actor of 'Robin Hood' and 'Drive' who really sang for his career in 'Inside Llewyn Davis' is only in competition with himself right now. This week we have an Oscar, double feature with the dual release of this and the instant classic, breakout performance alongside fellow, rising actress of type Jessica Chastain, 'A Most Violent Year'. Still, you couldn't wildest dreams imagine two more different films or performances, both equally as inspired and incredible as each other as they flip between the classic, character conflict of the good versus evil coin toss. Going from a slick, clean cut, in Armani man, to a balding, bearded 'Machinist' in glasses and sweats. As wealthy however as his oil rich 'Most Violent Year' tycoon, here our scientist locks himself and his android dungeon away in his fortress in the mountains as he drinks away his liver as much as he think a way for the future. Nursing beer bottles and a hangover of a mind of fibre optics tinkering and firewall guarded paranoia in a man cave lair even Tony Stark would be proud of, as he builds his Fe Iron-Women in all their batteries not included, short circuits. Cabin fever has never looked so much like a dream home. A seemingly madcap genius isolated from the outside world, social interaction and sometimes common courtesy graces, going stir crazy...but dude can he dance! Rewriting the acting layers of code of his career, this leading man is truly next gen. As a matter of fact the force is with this whole future fable, putting up a metallic mirror to the man versus machine, help versus hurt, technological advancement nature of today and tomorrows world. Hauntingly beautiful and technically magical, this is a masterpiece of a machine. TIM DAVID HARVEY.