Ex Machina (2014)

This review was originally written in July of 2015

Ex Machina starts off slow but remains compelling from the beginning through to the end, and it managed to prove itself to be easily the most well-written and well thought out story to touch on this subject matter.
Chappie was entertaining and sort of sweet, Age of Ultron was exciting, but Ex Machina was the best and most honest exploration of artificial or emergent intelligence I have witnessed on screen.
Everything from the introduction of Ava, through the process of getting to know her as she is put through a protean sort of Turing test by a gifted coder, to the intense and chilling (but somehow still understated) climax of the film is insanely captivating.
The interactions between the relatively naive Caleb (the programmer) and the erratic and controlling Nathan (his boss and the man who developed Ava) fluctuate between bizarre and somewhat friendly but with an ever present sort of tension that builds as the narrative continues.
The true star of the movie is Ava herself, portrayed by Alicia Vikander…and she most certainly shines in her role, showing that it might not be the best idea to strive for human emotional development and sexuality when working towards AI.
Elements of the movie definitely take a cue from Bladerunner…questions of identity, what it is to be human, and how far we might go in simulating humanity when creating a new form of life…in addition to exploring all too common human issues like insecurity, desire, and mistrust.
I want to say more. I want to discuss specific points in the narrative, but I don’t want to include any spoilers. I hope that you’ll see it for yourself. There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best science fiction movies I will see in a good long while, and I believe you will feel the same if you take the time to watch it.

Summer Frost by Blake Crouch: Narrated by Rosa Salazar

Summer Frost is not treading entirely new ground, building up to a predictable outcome as it does…but it’s not the novelty of the tale that makes it worthy, it’s the quality of the storyteller. Blake Crouch is quite the storyteller.
Riley makes for a captivating protagonist as she works to assist the world’s first truly emergent intelligence reach and further maximize its potential. It’s appropriate, in a sense, that the AI’s name is Max (short for Maxine, the NPC within a VR game, the AI unexpectedly grew from).
It’s a sad tale of being too close to a problem to see that there’s a problem at all. In this case, the problem is that Riley has projected altogether too many human characteristics onto something that is far beyond human. Blinded by an affection that falls somewhere into a nebulous space of mother and child…or lover and object of obsession. We are helpless to do anything, hoping that we’re wrong, as the story races to the inevitable conclusion…but knowing, deep inside that there’s no other conclusion available.
The narration from Rosa Salazar is as spectacular as most of the narration has been for the installments of the Forward Collection. She lulls us into a sense of near-complacency that allows us to feel almost as taken off-guard as Riley ultimately is.