Alex Garland’s Ex Machina has a good cast, a very good writer (though unproven as a director), an intriguing new trailer and an interesting premise going for it. It also happens to be a premise that can only take place in a fictional world where none of the characters has ever seen or heard of a story like this before.
Allow me to elaborate using an example from a different genre: most zombie movies take place in a world where no one has ever seen a zombie movie. Otherwise as soon as they saw the first walking dead person roaming around trying to eat people, everyone would say, “Oh look, it’s a zombie,” then grab their guns, get organized, aim for the head and have things wrapped up in time for lunch. Instead they freak out, run around and ask each other what’s going on for at least half of the movie.
The same applies to a movie like this. I’ve read enough stories to know that when a reclusive genius billionaire brings you–all by your lonesome–to his ridiculously remote site that can only be reached by helicopter, the chance of it being a friendly, normal trip is about the same as the chance that he’s going to give you a small survival kit and a thirty-minute head start before he hunts you across his private compound with a rifle. I don’t like those odds. Thanks but no thanks, I’ll just make it a Netflix weekend with my babe, instead.
But I live in a world where stories about crazy rich people doing crazy things to their unfortunate, unsuspecting captives exist. Caleb, the character in Ex Machina obviously does not live in such a world. So when he sees that his exceedingly rich, brilliant and enigmatic boss, Nathan, (played by the terrific Oscar Isaac) has an artificially-intelligent android walking around the house, he’s surprised, instead of being armed or not there. When the female android apparently starts seducing him, he’s tempted, instead of being in a helicopter he hijacked an hour ago, flying back to civilization and muttering, “What the hell was I even doing out here? Stupid. Stupid!”
All of that to say, Ex Machina still looks good. It has its North American premiere at SXSW on March 14th, before coming to a theater near you on April 10th.