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Seen Ex Machina? (SPOILERS!)

  1. May 31, 2015 #1


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    I very thinkful film, although in retrospect, astonishingly thin story.

    I thought they missed a few marks when exploring the concept of moral imperative.

    Caleb came to care for Ava, and decided to break her out, making a decision to do the Right and Moral Thing, given the circumstances he was presented with.

    But there was no down side to his decision. He was not faced with a Choice (protect myself and walk away, versus make a sacrifice for someone in need). He made no sacrifice.

    Thus, the viewer is not placed in a position of having to ask themselves "what would I risk - how much would I sacrifice - to help a suffering person - even a veritable stranger - I care about?"
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2015 #2


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    I liked the film. Not much re-watchability in my opinion though.
  4. May 31, 2015 #3
    A friend just recommended this movie to me a few nights ago. Now I must see it!
  5. Jun 2, 2015 #4
    Did you see the same movie I saw? Since this thread has already been designated a "spoiler alert" I will talk freely. His sacrifice was obviously being stuck, locked into the compound while Ava was able to walk free, and that was a result of Caleb manipulating the security, the result of which he got knocked out for. He was absolutely faced with and given a choice to protect himself and walk away. He chose not to. That dilemma is really the heart of the story.
  6. Jun 2, 2015 #5
    Those are unforeseen sacrifices, he didn't have to really chose for his own safety vs go through with the plan.
  7. Jun 2, 2015 #6
    What does that mean? It's all about choice. He chose to breach the security. This is really what the movie is about. We are set up to believe the nobody nerd gets the dream weekend with the tech guru and then he betrays that trust, knowing full well the "correctional" capacity of his host. So when he decided to do what he did, I think it was his own personal volitional choice.

    Btw, that scene where the guru says "I'm about to tear up the dancefloor" I will unequivocally state may be the funniest scene in movie cinema I have ever seen.
  8. Jun 2, 2015 #7
    Lets agree to disagree.
    My views are based on the absence of malicious intent during conversation between what's his name and the AI. Together with the assumption that they'd escape together this seems like minimal risk.
  9. Jun 2, 2015 #8


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    It was a good film, but no reason to watch it again. Not much to think about too. I think the only reason it seems good is that the story is novel.
    And yeah, I agree. Caleb was just a lonely boy with a frustrating life(at least emotionally) who saw himself in a situation where he could get the most unusual girl friend in history and also act as a hero and seem so much more special to himself. There was no sacrifice. I can say he was deceived mostly by himself.
    It seems to me that when a writer or a director think of such novel situations, they just get so much excited that they can't cook it up to a really nice film you might have expected from that novel first idea. At least I can see this phenomenon here clearly.
  10. Jun 2, 2015 #9
    I think you missed the point, Shyan. Caleb came in with no pretensions. We don't know anything of his prior life retro his cubicle. Sure, he was a sycophant of the guru but we are set up for that. I don't think the movie was set up in any way that Caleb wanted a "trophy" robot score to brag about. Sure, there was some intimacy, but I think his motivation for breaking her out was clearly political and not prurient.

    It didn't occur to me that he wanted some kind of unusual girl.
  11. Jun 2, 2015 #10


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    I didn't say his only motive was that. But surely it played a big role.
    But it seems to me that you actually missed some points. I hate to say this, but watch the film again. Nathan explains why he chose Caleb(not the first time!) and there is a piece of information from the life of Caleb. Also Caleb fantasies about Ava under shower! But actually its more emotional than sexual.
  12. Jul 17, 2015 #11
    Watched the movie on a plane a couple days ago. I thought it was brilliantly made. They only thing I couldn't get past was the fact that the bearded guy used key cards instead of some advanced bio-metric scanners.
  13. Jul 17, 2015 #12


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    Gotta go with JorisL on this one. There was no indication that breaching security would cause anything worse than getting him kicked out. If we were supposed to empathize with a main character in choosing to take a risk that would cause him personal sacrifice, it was absent in the story.

    And if getting kicked out of the project - or even fired - is the biggest concern he has, then this is a shallow story. It is only when a story goes beyond the safe "but I've got a job to keep" and into the "what am I willing to sacrifice of my own self for this veritable stranger" that a story takes on meaning.
  14. Jul 18, 2015 #13
    Really? The guy's got to be flown in on a helicopter, doesn't know where on Earth he is, then he has to go through security measures even to get into the complex, then he is put in a room with no windows with all sorts of security precautions...

    4. The Guru is creating the first genuine human-like robot worth potentially billions in an extremely secure and clandestine compound.

    And you think that the worst thing that could happen to him is being kicked out? Especially after the Guru spilled his guts and told him the whole story?

    I think you got duped by the fraudulency of the non-disclosure agreement, that was actually a red herring.
  15. Jul 18, 2015 #14


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    Yes. If there is a consequence - a real consequence that makes shallow story into a deep one - it must be shown in the story. And it sure has to be deeper than employer consequences.
  16. Jul 20, 2015 #15


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    I just saw this one on the weekend myself. I'd say it was certainly thought-provoking, but a little slow for my taste.

    I felt suspense for Caleb. The real risk for him came with a suble comment. Over a meal Nathan (the Guru) and Caleb were discussing the power outages and Nathan makes a comment about the that installed the power system that ends with... "I had them all killed." And then nothing came after that - no laughter to break the tension, no 'just kidding' or 'dude, you looked like you seriously believed that!' He just kept on eating.

    Leading up to that there was a lot of emphasis on that non-disclosure agreement, including periodic audits of ALL of his personal data (though taken to an extreme I thought this did a great job of invoking how most people feel when facing such an agreement). So Nathan was set up as a character who held all the power. Caleb could lose his job, be sued, and subject to extremely invasive monitoring... This was escalated in the second act to a threat to his life as per above.

    This led to a moral dilemma for Caleb. He was facing the wrath of a guy who was off his rocker and had all the money and resources in the world and could quite possibly have him killed, if he chose to attempt to rescue AVA.

    And of course, this was only a dilemma if he honestly believed that she was sentient. If she was just a robot, then there was no weight on the other side.

    The other thing for me is that although the POV character was Caleb, the real story was about AVA. And I thought the story was ultimately a comment that becoming human included adopting out negative traits as well, such as the capacity to use creativity for maniuplation and to commit murder.
  17. Jul 20, 2015 #16


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    Perhaps, although I saw her final action with Caleb as totally inhuman. She didn't hold malice, she didn't feel regret or indecision - she didn't spare any more thought for him than for the trash can.
  18. Jul 20, 2015 #17


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    For me, the main suspense was not in whether Nathan would do something to Caleb if he released Ava - it was in what Ava would do when freed. Would she act out of compassion, all-inclusive empathy, and out of obligation, treating human kind like Caleb learned to treat her, or would she behave as if completely separate from her creators, treating them like objects she had to manipulate in order to survive in a hostile environment - in a way similarly to how Nathan treated his robots.
  19. Jan 7, 2016 #18
    The CGI effects used to create Oscar Isaac's beard were incredible - it almost looked too real.
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