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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ex Machina is a science-fiction movie about artificial intelligence. It's more thoughtful and less action-oriented than many movies and will give older teens plenty to think and talk about, although it's definitely geared toward mature audiences. There are brief, strong scenes of violence, with slicing, stabbing, and lots of blood. "F--k" is used several times. Full-frontal nudity is shown on lifelike female robots, and the concept of human sex with robots is discussed. Both main male characters drink alcohol, and one gets really drunk in several scenes. This movie may be too cerebral and slow-moving for some audiences, but die-hard sci-fi fans will be eager to see it.
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What's the story?
In EX MACHINA, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a coder at a global search engine, wins a contest and is invited to spend a week with the company's rich, reclusive, genius boss Nathan (Oscar Isaac). The facility is ultra-modern glass and steel, but it's located in a beautiful, secluded spot in the mountains, surrounded by greenery. There, Nathan asks Caleb to help him test his new A.I. (artificial intelligence) system, a beautiful female robot called Ava (Alicia Vikander). Caleb asks Ava questions to determine just how "real" she seems, but in a few private moments, Ava warns Caleb not to trust his host. Finding himself increasingly drawn to her, Caleb begins to formulate an escape plot. But there's more to this setup than meets the eye.
Is it any good?
Author (The Beach) and screenwriter (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go, Dredd) Alex Garland makes his directorial debut with this film; not surprisingly, it's an atmospheric sci-fi movie. Much more surprising is the fact that it surpasses everything else in his filmography. Every aspect is expertly constructed. It's bursting with ideas, theories, and moral questions about the concept of artificial intelligence, and it leaves these theories open to interpretation by a smart audience.
Ex Machina's overall design is brilliant, using the spacious frame to juxtapose nature and science, chaos and order. The creepy, futuristic music score by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury rings true emotionally. The visual effects around the Ava character are seamless, and the human characters are believable and fascinating, with strong performances by everyone involved. Ex Machina achieves that rare combination of eliciting both strong thoughts and feelings, and it deserves to be known as a sci-fi classic.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ex Machina's violence. How much is shown, and how frequently? Does the fact that the violent moments are brief affect their impact?
What does the movie have to say about the nature of artificial intelligence overall? Do you think it's actually going to happen? What rights will A.I. have? How do we tell the difference? What's the "Turing Test" described in the movie?
Does the nudity in the movie feel more or less significant because the naked characters are supposed to be robots? How does the movie address sexual attraction between robots and humans?
How does the movie depict drinking? Are there realistic consequences?
What do you think of the ending? Is it a happy ending or a sad ending? Is everything wrapped up? Does it leave questions?
- In theaters: April 10, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: July 14, 2015
- Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
- Director: Alex Garland
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Robots
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: graphic nudity, language, sexual references and some violence
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award
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