"Never trust artificial intelligence." - Every movie featuring artificial intelligence, apparently.
This low-key science fiction movie was widely heralded at the time of its release for being "smart" and "thoughtful." It does, after all, explore topics like what it means to be self-aware, the ethics of treating robots with artificial intelligence as tools that can be leveraged for our own pleasure, what it would take for us to ascribe a sense of humanity to a machine, and so on.
Ex Machina, however, does not exist in a vacuum, and those sorts of heady concepts are commonplace in its genre. Even garbage-ass movies for jerks like Chappie have planted their flags in this territory. In its last half an hour or so, Ex Machina also becomes a bit of a slasher movie, eschewing the philosophizing in favor of thrills and the catharsis of revenge. I wouldn't recommend this movie if you're seeking a new perspective on what are sure to become actual issues in our lifetimes as technology progresses.
Having said all of that, there is still plenty to enjoy here. Oscar Isaac's beer guzzlin', weight liftin', male gazin' take on the reclusive genius archetype here is a total joy to watch. When he appears to be genuinely psyched to dance with what is essentially his robotic servant and sex toy, it comes across as equally disgusting and endearing. I could watch him bust Caleb's milquetoast chops for hours.
The overall aesthetic package is super sharp as well. The clandestine compound in which this movie takes place is nestled in a lush natural environment, serving as a nice point of contrast for all the sterile, metallic interior. Minor details, like the unexpected creation of Caleb's keycard when he first stumbles into the compound, stand out.
One last thing worth calling out is how the characters in this movie, while still making their share of stupid decisions, at least feel a step above standard horror movie protagonists in terms of intelligence. More often than not, they're willing to ask the sorts of questions that seem obvious to the audience, and they come across as people who are planning ahead and aware of their own susceptibility to the other's schemes.
So there you have it: robots are still evil. Watch out!