Monthly Archives: May 2015

Review: Ex Machina (2015)

Director: Alex Garlandfile_124561_0_exmachinaposterlarge

Writer: Alex Garland

Stars: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

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“One day the A.I.’s are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.”

It is the strength of this quote that lays out the foundation of this movie and sets the theme up for us. “Ex Machina” is a wordplay from the known term “Deus Ex Machina” which translates from Latin to “God from the Machine”. Therefore the title means “From the Machine”

Caleb is a computer programmer who is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence. He wins the opportunity through his company and gets to spend seven days with the CEO at a secret location. The CEO of his company, Nathan, is a recluse and spends lonely hours and days by himself working with on various A.I. programmes, trying to nurture and develop them.

Caleb then meets Ava, the A.I. unit he has been selected to ‘test’. The series of tests he conducts runs over a period of seven days and he reports his findings back to Nathan. Nathan is somewhat arrogant and occasionally intimidating and through a series of power outages, Ava reveals key details of who he really is and what his intentions are to Caleb. Caleb then begins to confirm to himself that Ava’s suspicions are true and as he finds himself willing to help her, he also finds himself falling for her.

Writer/Director Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later)  has produced a piece of cinematic magic. A well produced script supports the viewer and directs them to exactly where he wants them to go. It is in the development of the script that allows us to select a side, it’s the classic good vs. evil scenario and we are forced to choose a side, but the side you select could be the wrong one.

Domhnall Gleeson portrays the role of Caleb, a calm and content individual who has interest in the sheer brilliance of the creation of Ava. Gleeson’s performance is confident and fulfilling. Oscar Isaac is superb as the arrogant CEO, an exact opposite to Gleeson’s character which helps balance out the play of the story. In the middle is Ava, played by Alicia Vikander, appearing in both full human and part CG forms, but never deflecting the believability of the character throughout the story in a natural and wonderfully graceful portrayal. The CG effects are fantastic and subtle at the same time, meaning that they are not over the top and don’t overshadow the storyline which gives Ex Machina its real strength.

Garland has taken a snapshot of a bitter and bleak possibility of a future that we all could once be living in. It asks questions and gives the answers to potential outcomes as the pace of our technology that we develop gets out of control and paints a daunting picture. The script is crafted in such a way that we are both certain and uncertain of the correct choices that are made and becoming clouded by the reality that can be expected from a wrong choice. Garland described the future presented in the movie as “ten minutes from now” meaning that “if Google or Apple announced tomorrow that they had made Ava, we would be surprised, but we wouldn’t be that surprised”.

 

His beliefs echo the statement of the movie.

 

Trailer:

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Review: John Wick (2014)

John_Wick_TeaserPoster 8

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen

Directors: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch

Writer: Derek Kolstad

 

Interestingly enough, Director Chad Stahelski first started his career in Hollywood as a Stuntman. His first role being Keanu Reeves stunt double in the 1991 hit Point Break and eight years later working with Reeves again in The Matrix. This is his first foray into life as a Director and who better to star as his lead than the man that he has been several times during his career.

Reeves plays the title role of John Wick, an ex hitman who has retired after meeting and subsequently marrying the woman of his dreams, but the story starts on a sad note with the funeral of John Wick’s wife leading up to the inevitable grief that Wick struggles to deal with. One evening there is a knock at the door and a package is delivered to his house containing a small dog, a parting gift left by his wife to help him in his grieving process. One day, whilst filling up his Mustang at a petrol station, Wick gains the unwanted attention of some locals who enquire about purchasing the car from him which he informs them is not for sale. Later that evening, Wick’s house is broken into. He is beaten, his car is stolen and his dog is killed leaving him no choice but to come out of retirement to seek revenge. John Wick is known by a lot of people in the criminal underworld as a person that you don’t mess with and when crime lord Viggo Tarasov (Nyqvist) finds out that his son, Iosef (Pop Star Lilly Allen’s’ younger brother, Alfie) is the one responsible, he fears the worst and the worst is about to happen.

As far as Directorial debuts go, this is one of the best there has been. Chad Stahelski has honed and crafted a work of pure genius. The sombre mood of the piece is often played out in a dark contrast with the inclusion of blue/green colouring to give it an air of mystique. It is the ream of stunning visuals that bring out the cinematography of the movie painting a vivid backdrop for our lead to play against.

Reeves is one of the few actors with brooding intensity that he often doesn’t need to speak at all to create the impeccable role. He is perfect for this part and very believable as a man you wouldn’t want to mess with. Many stars pop up during the course of the movie such as Ian McShane, Willem Defoe and John Leguizamo. The storyline is one that has been played over and over before, but the beauty of Derek Kolstad’s script is that it has its own unique method to it. Chad Stahleski’s stunt experience plays heavily in the influence of the movie with very quick, well-choreographed fight scenes played out beautifully by the cast keeping the storyline fast paced.

This is also Kolstad’s first major screenplay and with the recent announcement of a sequel, the trio are looking to be reunited once again.

 

Trailer: