Thursday, October 27, 2016

Directorial Debut: Alex Garland's EX MACHINA

Welcome to a new installment of DIRECTORIAL DEBUT, where we look at some of the best, most interesting, and iconic directors and the films that started their careers. This week we take a look at a film directed by Alex Garland, and one of the best films of 2015, with one of the strongest directorial debuts ever in my opinion...EX MACHINA.

This film stars Alicia Vikander as Ava (pictured above), Oscar Isaac as Nathan, CEO of tech company Blue Book, and Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb, a programmer who wins a week long trip to Nathan's isolated home. What transpires is that in fact Caleb is there to test Ava's artificial intelligence, as she is put to the test to see if Caleb can have a human relationship with her.

This film is beautifully shot and has all the makings of a sci-fi great, due to the fantastic script (written by Garland too) which feels organic and not cliche. Furthermore, it's a thought provoking, original film, and this makes it feel fresh and I think this is something sci-fi has needed in recent years. This is actually not surprising considering the films that Garland has been involved with before his directorial debut, with 28 Days Later and Dredd, both of which are fantastic films in their own right, and it's clear that Garland has a good touch with the genre of film. He was also nominated for an academy award for Best Screenplay as well.

It really is astonishing how good the special effects are considering the limited budget, and even fended off competition from the stunning Mad Max: Fury Road, winning the Oscar for Visual Effects. It's also evident that as well as being thought provoking, this film is genuinely funny and makes you feel for all the characters, especially Ava, because she is written so well, and I thought this was particularly interesting because while Caleb is trying to figure out whether Ava is truly conscious, the audience is going along that same journey with him and by the end it seems as though she is.

You really can feel the love for the film, and this is even more obvious when you realise that Garland had been working on the concept for the film since he was 12 years old. You can also feel the Kubrick-esque scenes and concepts throughout, and it's clear that Garland is one of the most intelligent film-makers working today (which makes me even more excited for his next sci-fi film, Annihilation). I feel as though if he has another success, he could become one of the top directors working today on original content, much like Christopher Nolan.

Overall, this is a film that may be even more significant to look back on in 10 years, considering the talent behind the camera, and I also believe that this was one of the best films of 2015, a year filled with great films as well, and due to the special effects and the tension throughout the film, will stand the test of time. It may be a smaller movie but most directors start small, and you look at most of the top directors such as Spielberg who started even smaller, the future is bright for Garland.

Chris's Score: 10/10

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