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George At 

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Featured Movie Reviews

Ex Machina

Mind blowingly original and intelligently written, EX MACHINA is cutting edge science fiction wrapped around some very human questions.

The brilliant Oscar Isaac stars as Nathan, the billionaire creator of the worlds strongest search engine. As the film opens, company programmer Caleb wins an internal lottery to spend a week with Nathan at his sprawling, futuristic compound two hours from civilization.

When the young, impressionistic Caleb arrives, he finds an eccentric, friendly and casual Nathan that lets him know he is actually there to be part of a world changing experiment.

Nathan has created a stunningly beautiful female AI named Ava. Her face, hands and partial torso are human-like, but her entire mid-section is clear and filled with whirling lights and machinery, thanks to superb special effects.

Ava is played with machine-like grace by Alicia Vikander in a star making role. She is always believable and yet slightly off in a fascinating physical performance.

Nathan's challenge to Caleb is a "Turing test" to observe Ava for a week, to speak with her, to spend time with her and see if she can pass a test as human.

Writer/Director Alex Garland spins the story off in unexpected directions from there with tons of suspense and scene after scene of smart, powerful dialogue.

The less you know beyond the basic plot the better.

Oscar Isaac gave one of my favorite performances last year in Inside Llewyn Davis and he is excellent here. The entire world will know him when he headlines the new Star Wars film in December, but he's already a star. His Nathan is a genius that may or may not be dangerous. Domhnall Gleeson (True Grit, Harry Potter series) is also great as Caleb.

The brilliance of the film is watching these three characters interact in isolation with tensions growing into a taut and exciting last twenty minutes.

This is Garland's first film as a director and it's a hell of a debut. Talk about coming out of the gate strong! There isn't a wasted word of dialogue in the entire film.

Production design and photography are top notch.

EX MACHINA is an intelligent thriller in the spirit of Michael Crichton and Kubrick but with a spirit all its own. A strong A+ and solidly in my all-time Top 100.

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