We’ve been keeping tabs on Ex-Machina since we first heard about more than year and a half ago. It sounded promising, and only got more intriguing as we heard additional details and saw the cast they put in place. But we haven’t heard anything since back in April, and we were hoping it might make an appearance at one of the fall festivals (it sounds tailor made for the midnight section of the Toronto International Film Festival or the genre heavy Fantastic Fest). But alas, it was not to be. Still, we did get a cool new still from the film, and it only serves to get us even more excited for this.
Ex-Machina marks the directorial debut of Alex Garland, who, though he hasn’t helmed a feature film before, is definitely an industry veteran. He’s written a number of movies for Danny Boyle, including 28 Days Later, The Beach, and Sunshine, and outside of that partnership, he is even behind the script for Pete Travis’ recent cult fave Dredd.
The story is a kind of love triangle, but with a suitably bizarre and sci-fi spin. A reclusive billionaire computer programmer (Oscar Isaac) who no one has heard from in quite a while brings a young employee (Domhnall Gleeson), who wins a raffle, up to his facility/home in Alaska to test his latest invention. It just so happens to be a female robot (Alicia Vikander) that may or may be fully conscious. It’s a big, allegorical tale, one that has sweeping themes and important ideas, as well as shades of Blade Runner, Isaac Asimov, and countless other genre staples. Like I said, there’s a lot to get excited about with this one.
And that’s where his picture comes in. It shows Vikander, who plays the robot named Ava, looking at what appears to be another version of her face. Not only does she look fantastic in this shot, with the only skin there is to see on her hand and face, but that silver scaly skin makes her look practically reptilian. The intense way she stares at that face, you also see some of the thematic work in the process, as it certainly appears she’s wondering about hew own consciousness and issues of self and identity. She may very well be wondering if she’s even real, which we imagine will be of central importance to the movie.
Ex-Machina is reportedly complete (it sounds like it may have been for a while, as both Gleeson and Isaac are currently filming Star Wars: Episode VII), which is why we thought we could have seen it at a fall festival. There’s no date scheduled yet for when we might see it, but it is apparently already slated for March 20, 2015 in Sweden, and some have theorized that it could premiere at Sundance. While it does feel a bit big and genre leaning for that fest, they’ve some similarly themed sci-fi films lately, like The Signal and I Origins, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility. But we may just have to wait for an actual, good old-fashioned theatrical release for this one.