Ex Machina (2015)

logoDirector: Alex Garland

Writer: Alex Garland (Screenplay)

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Corey Johnson, Oscr Isaac, Alicia Vikander, Sonoya Mizuno, Claire Selby


Plot: A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Sci-Fi Seriously Great


Story: Ex Machina starts with Caleb (Gleeson) winning a competition which involves him being taken to an isolated location where a high tech house is where his prize is located. Caleb gets to work with genius scientist Nathan (Isaac) a man that he has the utmost respect for and his boss. Caleb has to agree to a large amount of secretly clause in a contract so he can work with Nathan on the next level of his research.

Caleb has been selected to be the human subject to see how an artificial intelligence can be conceived as real, this means that Nathan has created it but he needs another human to see if his research has push the artificial intelligence levels to the point where humans don’t know they are interacting with a computer. The artificial intelligence in question is named Ava (Vikander) and Caleb gets to have his first conversation with her.

Caleb continues to his interactions with Ava we start to see how Caleb could be stuck in the middle of a battle between Nathan and Ava. Caleb is trying to figure out whether he can trust Nathan or believe what Ava is saying. Nathan continues to show off how he created Ava while Ava tries to make herself come off more human with her look and style of conversation. When Caleb starts to uncover the truth he is left wonder just what is actually real or what is part of an experiment.

Ex Machina has to go down as the sci-fi film of the year very early on in the year. The story is all character driven and is willing to be brave enough to ignore the robot laws we always seem to see in the building AI. The story is filled with twists and turn that really does keep you guessing to what will happen next. I will say that if you are expecting any real action you will be let down and even though the story does end up flying by it could end up feeling slow in parts. This is an interaction based film that is filled with conversation that all become very interesting that gets into the idea of whether creating an AI would be ethical to create to the level achieved. (9/10)


Actor Review


Domhnall Gleeson: Caleb is the skilled computer coder working for a brilliant company trying to reach the next level of the technology battle. He gets selected by the recluse boss to help with his research on artificial intelligence leaving Caleb having to have conversation with the creation leading to an unethical potential relationship. Domhnall gives a great performance but I do feel the American accent does come and go too often. (8/10)


Oscar Isaac: Nathan is the recluse genius boss who has selected Caleb to be part of the research experiment, where he gives away part of the secrets but not all of them as the experiment continue on. Oscar gives a great performance but I couldn’t help but think he was Mr Universe from Serenity with his character actions. (8/10)


Alicia Vikander: Ava is the artificial intelligence created to try and prove that it would in fact be possible to trick a human into thinking they are having a conversation with a fellow human being. She has become smarter than first thought and is enjoying the interaction with Caleb because he is something different to just Nathan. Alicia gives a brilliant performance in an early role but could this really be a star being born? (9/10)


Support Cast: Ex Machina only has supporting cast of previous models used to create the levels that Ava’s intelligence has got too.


Director Review: Alex Garland – Alex gives a great directing debut here with a film that is thoroughly engrossing from start to finish. (9/10)


Drama: Ex Machina manages to make nearly two hours of whether it is right or wrong to build the artificial intelligence seem like one of the most interesting conversations in recent film. (9/10)

Sci-Fi: Ex Machina puts us into a world where artificial intelligence could be used to create the most realistic ideas to date, trying to keep everything on a level that could be achieved rather than making it all theoretical. (9/10)

Settings: Ex Machina keeps the setting as just the isolated research facility for the one week we spend there. (9/10)
Special Effects
: Ex Machina uses brilliant effects to make the artificial intelligence creation making them have a human side while showing the mechanical side. (10/10)

Suggestion: Ex Machina is one that really should be getting watched by all but I would understand the fact the casual fans will find it slightly slow. (Watch)


Best Part: Keeping you guessing.

Worst Part: Slightly slow.

Favourite Quote: Nathan ‘One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.’


Believability: The research might well be real, but how far it has gone is slightly harder to believe. (5/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $27 Million

Budget: 11 Million Euros

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

Tagline: What happens to me if I fail your test?

Trivia: Caleb alludes to the fact that only Gods can create new life. The three main characters all have appropriate biblical names. Ava is a form of Eve, the first woman, Nathan was a prophet in the court of David, and Caleb was a spy sent into a new land by Moses.


Overall: Ex Machina is easily one of the best sci-fi films of recent years that pulls you into an experiment that you just don’t know how it will end.

Rating 90

Star Leaf (2015)

ogoDirector: Richard Cranor

Writer: Richard Cranor, Hugh Berry (Screenplay) Richard Cranor (Story)

Starring: Richard Cranor, Julian Gavilanes, Russell Hodgkinson, Svetlana Souutirina, Dylan Thome, Tyler Trerise, Shelby Truax, Kiki Yeung


Plot: Hikers find a secret grove of extra-terrestrial marijuana and must fight for their lives when they anger the other-worldly forces protecting the plants.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: High-Fi Surprisingly Good


Story: Star Leaf starts by taking us to Hindi Kush Mountain Range, Afghanistan where we meet two snipers one of which is Hunter (Gavilanes) and Tim (Trerise) who witness two Taliban soldiers kill a woman and plant a bomb on her child before doing the right thing by taking out the soldiers.

Move forward two years and Hunter is back in the states, he is with his best friend Tim (Trerise) who has changed becoming worldlier and gives Hunter a chance to meet his new girlfriend Martha (Truax). The friends are going for a trip into the mountains and on route they have to collect a map to collect premium drugs from Seth Guardrail Slaughter (Hodgkinson). The friends have the legendary map to the Star Leaf and have to follow the instruction to the weed with no cell phones or GPS just old school map.

As the journey continues we learn that Hunter isn’t interested in the drugs just the adventure with his friend but both Tim and Martha enjoy the drugs too much. We see strange tree formation unlike anything the friends have seen before. Sadly Hunter falls for the simplest amount of peer pressure and the three friends end up having a drug filled fantasies but after Martha and Tim break the rules the three have to rely on all of Hunter’s training to survive the situation but just what is real?

Star Leaf tackles one of my pet hates in horror just having drugs but I will say it looks at everything in a good way, many films use the drug trips in a way that can go very violent but this makes the start overly colourful to symbolise that the drugs are special. We do see a darker side of the effects which does lead to all the horror elements and much like the movie ‘Shrooms’ we are left wondering just what is actually real. The story really does keep you guessing from the moment the friends arrive at the Star Leaf and you really don’t know what will happen next right up to the final scene. (7/10)


Actor Review


Russell Hodgkinson: Seth Guardrail Slaughter is the hippie like drug dealer who gives out the instructions to finding Star Leaf with the map. Russell only has a couple of scenes but brings his star power to the film with those scenes. (7/10)


Julian Gavilanes: James Hunter is the soldier who gets dragged on the drug filled adventure by his best friend where his past starts to come back and haunt him. Julian does well in the role which does become the leading role dealing with the PTSD. (7/10)


Tyler Trerise: Tim is Hunter’s best friend who wants to find the perfect high which leads him in search of the Star Leaf, he has changed since Hunter last saw him, which confuses Hunter but he accepts that he is his own man. Tyler does a solid job in the role but makes plenty of horror errors. (6/10)


Shelby Truax: Martha is the girlfriend of Tim who has never met Hunter, she has an unhealthy love for Twilight where she thinks the friends are going on a road trip to tour the Bella conventions. Shelby does a solid job in her debut acting role. (6/10)


Support Cast: Star Leaf only has one more major supporting character and that is the Ranger who keeps turning up to help guide Hunter through the situation he finds himself in.


Director Review: Richard Cranor – Richard does a good job writing, directing and starring (as the Ranger) in this film that will keep you guessing from start to finish. (7/10)


Horror: Star Leaf uses the side effects of drug usage to create all the horror elements in the film. (7/10)

Settings: Star Leaf puts our characters in the middle of nowhere making the idea of an easy escape difficult. (9/10)
Special Effects
: Star Leaf has the low budget effects which all work out very well for the film but smart editing doesn’t show the weakness people may see in the effects. (/10)

Suggestion: Star Leaf is one for the horror fans to watch, it will start slightly slow but once the friends get high the story never lets up. (Horror Fans Watch)


Best Part: The final moments.

Worst Part: Too much Twilight talk.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: There is one in the early part.

Similar Too: Shrooms


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 16 Minutes

Tagline: Some Highs Are Out Of This World


Overall: Star Leaf has scares but not jumps and a final act that will leave you shocked.

Rating 75