This was another one of the significant science fiction films from 2015 which I have only just watched. I had been interested to see it from early on, knowing that the writer/director was the man who had written films including 28 Days Later, Sunshine and recently the second big screen adaptation of Judge Dredd. This new film, written by Alex Garland, was also his first as director as well.
Early on pictures of the cutting edge visual effects were released, which suggested something very special. This certainly was true, and it does turn out to be a very mature and different SF film.
This is a different kind of film in the science fiction genre, and some SF fans may need to really be prepared for that. It is slow at times, and very concerned with the psychological affects of finding real artificial intelligence.
This film looks fantastic, with an amazing real location out away from crowded cities and towns. Away from everyday civilization Caleba young programmer is flown out to take part in a Turing test with only a reclusive highly successful software company founder. The test lasts around a week, and day by day tensions and questions about the test rise as Caleb spends more time with the new A.I. and designer Nathan.
While the visual effects and design of A.I. female robot Ava and honestly very amazing, this is also very much a seriously tense and dramatic psychological drama. Young programmer Caleb becomes increasingly paranoid, and wonders how the testing of Ava really works, and why he really is there. Not everything is as it seems.
Visually the Ava robot reminded me of some of the effects and designs from Steve Speilbergs’ A.I. film from over a decade ago. Other than her, the film visuals are very basic and minimal which probably works to highlight our focus upon her. Not many modern SF films are so seriously focused on the very real ethical and moral questions relating to potential A.I. if or when it comes. As the film is set very soon from now, and with the CGI effects so convincing today, we really can feel the confusion and desperation of Ava, and understand why Caleb is concerned about her and what is really taking place. It also seemed similar to the recent tv series from the UK, Black Mirror, which has science or speculative fiction tales set in the very near future of years or even months from now.
Besides the science fiction element, it also reminded me of some European films, especially those of Ingmar Bergman and theatre plays in the way it moves along and focuses on the thoughts and feelings of the three main characters in this one building.
This may not be easy for all science fiction film fans to watch, but it is rewarding and really does make us think about things which may in real life, be just around the corner.
James E Parsons has his first SF book Orbital Kin out now from all good bookshops, and new book Minerva Century out soon in 2016.