There is a genre of movies out there that I’m sure has some specific film school name. I don’t know what that is, but I like to call them “Mindbenders.” They straddle that thin line between arthouse/indie (think anything by Wes Anderson) and lunacy (looking at you, Eraserhead). It was obvious that Ex Machina was going to be one of those movies from the first art I saw for it.
Muted colors. Mostly grey-scale. Stark. Morose. Generally looks like a photo spread of Coldplay.
I knew this because this
Why we decided that’s the way those movies should be marketed? I can’t say. Maybe because most of those movies seem to have a rather bleak outlook on humanity and graphic designers all have the same original idea to match that with bleak colors and expressions.
I’m getting off track.
Subsequent marketing material for Ex Machina–in preparation for the movie’s actual launch–went in the entirely opposite direction. In searching for the advertisement I actually saw for the movie, I saw the “International Trailer” that actually did a pretty good job of summing up the movie and focusing on the right parts . But instead of, you know, actually telling you what the movie is about, this is what most American audiences got:
Oh… ok. “Beware sexy robots.” Thanks, Forbes.
Sex bots have as much to do with this movie as bullets had to do with The Godfather. They play a pivotal role in some scenes, but focusing on them misses the entire goddamn point of the movie as a whole.
This is a movie about relationships; about using one another for personal gain; about love. It’s about the question of intelligence–of life itself–and what that means. But no… marketing turned it into a movie about super advanced Real Girl dolls.
Also–and most importantly, I believe–is that this movie was written by Alex Garland. I’ll save you some time: 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd, The Beach. This is the guy who revived the zombie genre (for better or worse) with 28 Days Later. The man made people care about Judge Dredd again after Sylvester Stallone crapped into a film canister and tricked us into buying tickets to watch it in the 90s. Hell… I’d even say he invented the modern mindbender style with The Beach. Although, to be fair, Danny Boyle directed 3/4 of those movies I mentioned above (I’ll give you one guess which one wasn’t him). On that same token though, you would never guess that it wasn’t Boyle directing Ex Machina. Garland uses the same soft crescendo with pointed, emotional explosions as Boyle. He’s not afraid so use some effects–some strange shots–but he doesn’t make it overwhelming. It’s obvious that he’s borrowed a lot from Boyle’s style. And I mean that in the absolute most complimentary of ways. Ex Machina is Garland’s directorial debut, and he absolutely nails it.
Ex Machina is not simply one of those movies. It’s a movie made by one of the masters of the craft.. Everything from the lack of “Deus” in the title to the ambiguous ending that seems to reference Plato’s Cave allegory–or possibly just represent a character seeing darkness in their actions (or most likely a little of both)–will leave your brain in knots in the best kinds of ways. Ex Machina will make you think. And not just about sexy robots.