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'Ex Machina' Is Unusually Convincing

Ex Machina is interesting throughout, considerably more believable than most artificial-intelligence movies, but a little hard to review without giving away too much. So let me start by just warning you not to assume you know what's coming until it's already come and gone, and even then you may not know why it happened.

But most of the time, we have an unusually convincing story of Oscar Isaac creating a robot, played by Alicia Vikander, and using Domhnall Gleeson to test how close to a human being the robot is. Thankfully, he never tries to explain how he's got her to where she is, but it's pretty clear where she is so far, and her continuing evolutions suggests that she's turning into something other than a usual human. After all, she never had a childhood at all, and knows nobody but Isaac. Her relationship with Gleeson can hardly be emotionally normal, and her morality is bound to be a little skewed.

It's all pretty believable, and the robotics in Ex Machina are both pretty new to me and emphasized frequently enough to keep us from feeling standardly romantic.

Isaac is not the usual scientist in a lab coat, and his mountain hideaway has no resemblance to Frankenstein's castle-- writer-director Alex Garland has thought out everything independently of other sci-fi movies, as far as I can tell with my limited knowledge of the genre.

It's a movie, not a treatise, so it leaves a lot of questions in my mind. But I'm satisfied that there is only the slightest suggestion of a sequel.