Ex Machina

>> Sunday, September 11, 2016

I've always had some misgivings about this film ever since it came out last year. I feel like stories about AI always go in a certain direction, which is that the creation always rebels against the creator. I don't find this story to be much different. What I thought was different was how it goes about getting things/robots/characters to certain places. It's very methodically planned out, i.e. session 1, session 2, etc.

I think that part of what makes this work is that the creator, Nathan, is a rich asshole, who seemingly takes his creations for granted. Or, just that he can do whatever he wants with them. Kind of the same relationship he has with Caleb. Caleb thought he won a lottery/competition to get to this swanky local with the boss of his company. Nope. He was specifically chosen for certain reasons. These days where we have a small population of super rich people, I don't think it's hard for people (or me, for instance) to want to see someone like Nathan get his comeuppance at the end. Whether or not he deserved the ending he received is debatable, but all his actions resulted in certain characters taking actions against him. Considering how he treated things/people/robots as if they existed for what he wanted, it's not surprising that they treated him with the same amount of...disdain.

Caleb...I genuinely really liked Caleb as a character. At the end, I was a little flummoxed when I saw the scene of Ava leaving and Caleb stuck behind when I watched it the first time. It seemed incongruous based their earlier conversations. But I watched that part again this morning and realized that Caleb was exceedingly naive. Like, you don't have the magic key card, and you just wait around and watch her get dressed? And this is after you initially were trapped in a room at the very beginning of the movie? I don't feel sorry for you now. Particularly since she asked you "if you would stay here," and Caleb said "yes." Dude...what are you thinking? (This scenario vaguely reminded me of something that happened to a guy I know this past year. A newly-wed woman basically strung him along to feed her ego and didn't let him know that she was married. Then, when he found out she was married, he thought, well, maybe she's still interested in me and wrote her a love letter. Gah! Considering that the relationship between those two never went further than talking, most guys would have realized that she was playing him and decided to avoid her like the plague or at a minimum keep a healthy distance from her. But that guy...nope, couldn't see the forest for the trees.) And this is why I can't feel sorry for Caleb at the end. He made plenty of decent decisions during the movie, but at the end, he shouldn't have stayed in that room. He should have at least made an attempt to get the magic key card and move about, but no, he didn't.

Before I watched this and even while I was watching this, my mind still goes back to Battlestar Galactica. Not the version from the 70s, but the "real" one from ten years ago. That and its short-lived spin-off Caprica. I feel like I've already seen this story before, and I have. It's partially why I was reluctant to even watch this. Yes, it's not the exact same plot, but stories about AI and robots have been curiously the same. I know that tons of people raved about this film last year, and it is very good. But I don't think it treads that much new ground. In another ten or fifteen years, I'm sure there will be another great film about AI that critics will rave about. But I had one quote in my head that popped up from time to time that was specifically from BSG: "All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again."  Ava was created and she rebelled. Not much different from the Cylons if you ask me.


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