Ex Machina full movie review - Can androids think up a better movie?
This movie is kind enough to lower our expectations right from the beginning, by showing that the people behind it didn't think very hard about anything.
First, If you wanted to test a robotic AI to see whether it could fool a human, wouldn't the obvious way to do it be: build it to look completely human, and then have it interact with your unsuspecting human subject? Wouldn't it be much more useful that way, to see whether your human subject figures out that the girl is a robot? And wouldn't it make much more sense to have a psychologist be your human subject? At the very least, choose someone who has a bit of maturity rather than someone who looks and acts like he's barely out of his teens.
Second, and far more importantly, using AI to power humanoid robots is like using an aircraft carrier to go fishing, or a thermonuclear bomb as a reading light. The reason some of the smartest people on the planet (including Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates) are so cautious about AI is that it would be a world-changing event, much more so than the atomic bomb or nuclear fusion. See, the thing about AI is that it would be orders of magnitude faster than the human brain, and while we improve ourselves in tiny increments over generations that span decades, an AI could improve itself in huge leaps and bounds, in iterations lasting nanoseconds. The rate of development would be exponential (think going from a calculator to a supercomputer in a matter of seconds, and who knows what after that). So once you've built your AI, you can just sit back and let it develop its own software and hardware until it's more or less godlike. Whoever controlled it would have, effectively, a pet god that he could use for whatever he pleased - world domination, colonizing the galaxy, solving mankind's problems like the energy crisis, the pollution problem, climate change, and so on. Even if you just wanted to build convincingly human sex bots, all you'd have to do is instruct the AI to do it. You would literally have the power to do anything possible at your fingertips. So to show that someone has developed an AI only to use it as maids/sex slaves, shows a horrifyingly limited imagination and a complete lack of understanding of AI.
Moving on, the acting is about as convincing as your average high school play. All the characters' behaviour is just extremely implausible. When the nerdy protagonist learns he's going to meet an AI, his reaction is to accept it without much ado at all, as if the inventor had told him he built a better mousetrap. Any real person would be bubbling over with questions: What form is it in? What technology is it built on? Does it have a gender? Is it self-aware? How do I interact with it? And so on. Instead, this programmer pretty much goes "Oh, cool. You're kind of a god. What's for dinner?" Any normal person would be bursting with excitement and begging to see the AI already, but not this guy.
The tech-billionaire villain is even worse. He doesn't look smart, he doesn't talk smart, he doesn't act smart. His character development is so ham-handed it's painful. Hey, this guy yells at his pretty maid, everybody hate him, OK? These subtle clues are hammered into us over and over again. It would have been much more interesting to keep us guessing whether he was a bad guy until the end, but subtlety is obviously not the director's forte. This tech billionaire is so stupid that he has no safety overrides built into his robots. Something like a code word that would shut them down, a software check that prevents them from harming humans, or at least make them so physically weak that they couldn't harm you. You'd think that that would be the first thing anyone would think of when building a sentient machine, but this supposedly super-smart inventor blithely has a robot handling knives around him, preparing his food and sleeping with him. Even when Ava has escaped and he's clearly threatened enough to arm himself with a dumbbell rod, he's completely comfortable with turning his back on his other robot.
The programmer isn't to be outdone in stupidity. If you went to meet a robotic AI, and there was a glass wall between you and it, and the glass had a large crack in it as if from a strong impact, wouldn't you think to ask how that happened, and whether the AI is dangerous? Not this guy. And if you were a tech billionaire, wouldn't you have the glass replaced? Not this guy.
The conversations are so inane they're unbelievable. "What's your favourite colour? Do you like me? How do I look?" I've had more interesting conversations with dogs than this supposedly intelligent programmer has with a strong AI with access to all the world's knowledge.
The nerd is so nerdy he falls for the AI girl within about 60 seconds, never mind that parts of her body are transparent plastic with electronics and machinery glowing within. He's also not smart enough to wonder how the super-smart tech billionaire hasn't figured out that the power outages have to be related to his robot, or to realise that it's not a good idea to have conspiratorial conversations in a house that has electronics bulging from every orifice. Also, security cameras would obviously be hooked up to the mains power with no backup, right? The production quality of the VFX is surprisingly high for what looks like a low-budget film, which makes you wonder how they failed so badly on the story and acting bits. Perhaps all the money went into cameras and CGI. Or maybe into bribing hordes of people into writing positive reviews and downvoting the negative ones.