Alex Garland’s Ex Machina has quickly become one of our most anticipated movies of 2015, sci-fi or otherwise. It’s got a great cast, an isolated setting, a cool hook, and more than anything else, what we’ve seen looks really damn good. And that includes this tense new clip that introduces man and machine.
The story follows Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a lowly programmer at a massive, Google-esque internet search company, who wins the chance to hang out with the company’s CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Caleb thinks they’re going to bond and maybe talk about his future or a possible promotion, but when he gets to Nathan’s remote mountain estate, he finds that he’s been selected to be the human component in a Turing Test. The subject is Nathan’s latest creation, an advanced, not to mention gorgeous, new AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander). The test is designed to evaluate the level of consciousness Ava has achieved, but as they get into it, Caleb realizes there’s much more going on than he initially thinks.
This clip from Yahoo shows Caleb meeting Ava for the first time. It’s almost entirely wordless, and certainly captures Caleb’s awe at the encounter. Garland has this to say about the scene:
The key thing is that you present her as beautiful, elegant and strange, but most of all you present her as a machine. You begin with something you wouldn’t attribute sentience to, and then show that it’s there.
While Garland has a strong history as a screenwriter, knocking out scripts for movies like 28 Days Later, Dredd, and Sunshine, among others, Ex Machina is his first directorial effort, it just doesn’t look like one. He has a keen visual eye, and even though there are only three primary characters and one basic setting, he composes intricate frames and uses intriguing camera movement to keep things from getting stale. There’s a very tense, unique look and feel to what we’ve seen from the film, and he talks about how the aesthetic complements what goes on in the story.
What the production designer, Mark Digby, has done with that set is quite sophisticated. He’s put the prisoner—the robot—in a larger space than the interrogator, who gets this tiny glass box. When you first see Ava you’re seeing her through multiple panes of glass, and behind her is this strange garden area, which implies the world outside. It’s elegant, intelligent production design, which is typical of him.
Ex Machina is set to hit U.K. theaters later this month on January 23, while U.S. audiences will have to wait until A24 releases the film on April 25. The more we see from this, the more excited we get, and it’s going to be hard to not to read all of the reviews that are going to come out across the pond in a few weeks.