The Frankenstein template has endured as one of the most retread themes in literature and art since Mary Shelley first conjured her modern Prometheus in the early 19th century. A brilliant, troubled scientist creates an intelligent robot that becomes self-aware. The creator fails to acknowledge the individuality of its creation and yadda yadda yadda, the robot rebels and kills its master.
It’s only natural that most viewers will go into Alex Garland’s Ex Machina expecting this rehash, albeit glossed up and put in a slick new package. Despite following a great deal of well-worn territory, the film manages to engage its audience with its icy and efficient delivery and consistent undercurrent of malevolence. Garland (a respected screenwriter and novelist) gives his gorgeously designed film a muted tone that got way under my skin and rattled my guts even when I knew what to expect. And even when the plot feels familiar, Ex Machina‘s riffs on consciousness and sexuality are always intriguing.