Was “Ex Machina” according to you the epitome of future technology and a demonstration of potential consequences of it, “Uncanny” is for sure a level higher. Not because of the shown interior design or the futuristic technologies, but because of the surprising denouement. Despite the austere imagery and decidedly lower budget, this film managed to captivate me pleasantly. Especially because of the interactions between the characters. Ditto as in “Ex Machina”, the number of protagonists is limited, so the focus is on the dialogues. Eventually they didn’t end up in a tangle of irrelevant side issues. And despite the limited display of high-end technologies, the intellectual level was boosted by a series of (for me anyway) incomprehensible, technological gibberish such as aerated titanium, convert a hemispheric image into a planar representation, chambered baths of synthetic hymotrips, proloanaprotiese that demolishes gluten, pesinium vibo receptors en propuseptive information. I’m not an engineer. That became clear after a while, because it went over my head at certain times.
It seems that artificial intelligence and robotics are the new, sexy hype. During the last year we were bombarded with films which had this as a central theme. Besides “Ex Machina” we were also treated to “Automata”, “Chappie”, “Transcendence”, “The Machine” and “Her”. Every movie demonstrated the dangers that lie in the further development of A.I. Should we worry about these self-developing machines getting a self-consciousness? And what about certain ethical issues? How will these highly intelligent beings operate in our society? And how will these artificial individuals react and act towards humans? This latter aspect was subtly elaborated in this rather excellent, low-budget film. A complex interplay between human individuals and an artificial,eerily human-looking robot. What takes place before your eyes, is a complicated love triangle with an android whose feelings resemble those of humans. With jealousy playing a major role.
The most striking is obviously the acting performance of David Clayton Rogers as Adam, the autonomously operating robot designed by David Kressen (Mark Webber). The way he plays Adam is sublime throughout the film. He acts in such a way that you’re convinced that he’s truly an artificially intelligent being. That puzzled look and the astonishment about the way David and Joy respond to him. That lost look while he’s scanning all possible feedbacks in his mind, after which a stream of words follow as if he’s quoting from a Wikipedia page. His designer sometimes exhibits the same characteristics. So you start to wonder if he isn’t an android as well. The way he formulated his response whether or not joy is pretty for example:
Her hair is nice.
Good facial symmetry.
Nice fashion sense.
Yes, I do. I think she’s pretty.
And finally there’s Joy (Lucy Griffiths), an intelligent journalist who studied robotics (but as far as I understood she didn’t graduate) and someone who worked on or designed a game called “Aquaria 3”. Apparently this game was so successful, it wasn’t necessary for her to continue her studies. This was the only thing that bothered me. Why was she chosen to be the person to write a report about such a highly technological issue? Or was there an additional plan specially created for her? Anyway, her performance were convincing enough.
I’m sure many will say this film is as slow as a snail and there’s an absence of action and excitement. But the gradual build up, brilliant dialogues and subtle interplay of the characters is necessary so that the denouement will come as a surprise. Although I had two specific outcomes in mind, it still was an intriguing film with a disturbing result. Let me end with a slightly humorous remark: I’m sure that Adam is the ultimate dream for a woman … a sophisticated home-garden-kitchen robot with “Tarzan” -like features … Well, I guess the vision of the future will look appetizing for some.