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Zone 6: Ex Machina: A Sci Fi Movie for the Literary

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Two male characters spending the majority of the movie discussing human consciousness and tackling philosophical questions may not sound like an interesting hook to some, but its execution in Ex Machina is truly a work of art, and embodies the tradition of classic science fiction. Like Domnhall Gleeson, one of the movie’s main actors said: “Just because something is science fiction doesn’t make it just spaceships. In my head, they tell you more about people than they do about machines.”

Alex Garland, screenplay writer of 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go makes his directorial debut with Ex Machina. The title of the movie alone evokes the universal question all of science fiction tries to answer: “What makes us human?” Ex Machina, or “from the machine”, immediately incites feelings of the uncanny, challenging our preconceived notions of what it means to be human.

The movie sets itself up innocently enough, in that it deceives its audience into a seemingly simple plot. A programmer of the world’s most popular internet search company, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), wins a contest to meet his hero, one he describes as the “Mozart of Computer Programming” – Nathan (Oscar Isaac). Caleb then travels to Nathan’s abode, where we are first introduced into the first lie, in a movie where the central theme is  deception and manipulation. Nathan’s hideout and laboratory is in the middle of a natural, beautiful landscape, the exterior of which is an inconspicuous cabin in he middle of the forest. Upon entering, Caleb finds himself in an immense mansion, complete with modern decoration, minimalist furniture, a vacant-looking Japanese maid, and a variety of android skins bearing creepy human expressions as decorations on the wall.

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This is 40 Movie Review: 40 Thumbs Down

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Rating: 2/10
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This is what I expected going into This is 40with an essential side note that states I’ve never seen the trailers nor reviews, only the poster, and armed with the knowledge that it’s a Judd Apatow film, therefore it must be good (backed by the fact that I loved Knocked-Up when it came out):

A moving film that uses the suburban, middle-life crisis as a backdrop, and utilizes carefully developed characters that are relatable and capable of delivering punchlines that only subtly hints at the empty, hopelessness of a typical modern family. Think Revolutionary Road except funny.

So, suffice to say, I had high expectations, which is probably why I was completely blindsided by the hypocrisy and sense of entitlement these characters went through. This is 40 is basically a movie about spoiled, 40 year olds, whose lives have become living advertisements for Apple products. While I understand  I can’t expect a movie trying to make a social commentary about  modern life without the appearance of an Ipad, or an Iphone, one of the lines that pushed me over the edge was when Pete, played by Paul Rudd, tells the mother of his daughter’s friend, that he will shove her Ipad, Iphone and whatnot into her “Icunt”.

That’s so funny, isn’t it. Ugh.

Everything these characters go through is a joke. It’s hard to take their main conflict of bankruptcy seriously when they go on vacation to a five-star resort, throw a catered party in their massive house and leave scenes by driving away on  two, separate cars. Here’s a hint, Pete: why not sell one of your cars? Why was it such a struggle to sell your mansion to move into a slightly smaller, yet still probably huge by middle-class standards home?

One of my main complaint about this movie is its insistence on blowing trivial problems out of proportion. Debbie, Pete’s wife, played by the gorgeous Leslie Mann, keeps complaining about Pete eating cupcakes and unhealthy food — and yet they decided to go with the handsome and fit Paul Rudd to emanate this character.

Furthermore, Debbie’s solution to everything is to hop on the “fit and healthy” trend, by eliminating all sources of gluten and sugar in her home, and confiscating her children’s gadgets — all honourable actions but that’s superseded when she decides to yell at a 13-year-old kid and threatens to “fuck him up” because he wrote bad things on her daughter’s facebook page. I stopped watching after Pete goes on to yell at the 13-year-old’s mother, calls her an Icunt (you can tell I love that joke), and then proceeds to act innocently in front of the principal, while the mother accuses  Debbie and Pete of being a “fake, bank commercial couple”, effectively reducing the couple down to essentials — artificial, unbelievable and self-entitled characters.

Which leads me to the total atrociousness of how female characters are portrayed in this film. We get Debbie: an insecure, neurotic 40-year-old woman who lies about her age, despite being played by Leslie Mann, who looks like she’s in her late 20’s anyway. Debbie also works out constantly because apparently, Pete doesn’t find her attractive anymore.

Let’s look at Leslie Mann in this movie and consider for a moment why it’s believable that her character is that insecure:

Photo by Suzanne Hanover from

Couldn’t come up with a reason? Yeah, me neither.

Next on our list of butchered women characters — Debbie’s boutique employees: Desi (played by Megan Fox) and Jodi (played by Charlyne Yi). While Debbie is on the hunt to find out where $10,000 of her boutique’s money went, Debbie finds out that Desi is a high-class escort and Jodi is addicted to oxycontin.

So we’ve got: neurotic suburban wife (Debbie), escort (Desi), junkie (Jodi) and over-the-top angry white lady (the icunt character I keep referencing). Put in a dash of women only listen to Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj and know nothing about The Pixies or Graham Parker jokes, Middle-Eastern doctors are witch-doctors (Pete does a horrible imitation of the doctor’s accent which, quite frankly, falls flat and uninspired) and a monologue 15 minutes into the movie about a woman who gave birth and can now fit various things into her cookah and you’ve got an overdone rom-com whose jokes leave you flaccid and cringing.

It was so bad I didn’t even finish it — so I never did find out if they got out of bankruptcy or if Debbie ever got her shit together and realize that she doesn’t have it that bad.

Although that scene with Debbie and Pete eating that weed cookie was quite funny — I could have watched 40 more minutes of that.