SXSW: ‘Ex Machina’ tackles big questions, will be a hit when released

While there is one big science fiction movie that everyone is waiting for coming out later this year, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” audiences at SXSW watched one that is coming out next month — “Ex Machina.” The movie stars Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson, who both star in the new “Star Wars.”

“Ex Machina” is about a programmer (Gleeson) who wins a lottery to visit his very secretive boss (Isaac) at his massive remote estate. The reason Gleeson is visiting his boss is that he is to test a robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander) to see if her artificial intelligence is perfect. A series of twists and turns begin.

While Ava is a major push forward for technology in the move, her creation does come with multiple problems with which people are struggling today. Bluebook, the company that creates the robot, does so by clandestinely unsuspecting people’s Internet habits, but that’s just the beginning. To teach Ava how to process human emotion, Bluebook hacked every single device on the planet, something that Google and the National Security Agency could only dream of.

Another idea with which “Ex Machina” wrestles is the patriarchy. Ava is kept inside a room with no windows, and her only interactions are with men. She is constantly watched by both Gleeson’s and Isaac’s characters. There’s so much more in “Ex Machina” that deals with the patriarchy, but discussing it would only ruin the movie.

Expect a big discussion about “Ex Machina” and the way it portrays women when the movie is released in April.

“There are huge ideas … about consciousness, language, experience and sexuality, all these things, and yet when those big diatribes come out, it’s all in service of pushing the story forward dramatically,” Issac said.

While the movie tries to tackle big questions, there are only three main characters who speak throughout the film. “Ex Machina” is very much like a play because it’s so small and broken up into sections.

“It kind of felt like a play in some ways,” Isaac said. “It’s pretty cool when the action and set pieces of the movie are two people torturing each other with their brains.”

“Ex Machina’s” story and acting are great, but what ties it all together is how visually amazing the movie is. It makes audiences claustrophobic with the tight enclosed spaces of Isaac’s home. The colors just pop off the screen. Then there’s Ava, who looks very much human, but at the same time, very cold and robotic.

“We bounced back ideas about how Ava looks, because there’s so many,” Director Alex Garland said. “If Ava is gold, which we tried, you immediately think of C-3PO.”

When “Ex Machina” is released, it will certainly be a critical hit.

“Ex Machina” will be released April 10.