Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Crabby Movie Reviews

June 6th, 2016

I used to come down with nasty head colds fairly often, but for the past many years it’s been rare. I’d like to credit an improved immune system for that, but logically, it’s mostly because I no longer have small children in the house.

Alas, I’ve finally been struck low again. I was supposed to spend the past three nights in the backcountry cabins of Haleakala Crater, but I bowed out when I felt a cold coming on. Neither brain nor body wanted to work on the novel, so instead I did some reading and watched two popular movies that I’d never seen before. Here are some brief, spoiler-filled thoughts on the latter:

Ex Machina
Given that I write science fiction about artificial intelligence, you’d think I would have been one of the first to watch this movie, but from the trailer it was pretty clear that Ex Machina was a bulls-eye hit on one of my pet peeves: men building pretty sex dolls. This goes back to the first Stepford Wives movie. I remember very little about the specifics of it, beyond the basic idea that actual women just aren’t good enough, or are too challenging, or not compliant enough, or something. It’s irritating.

And of course this is exactly what Ex Machina is about. It’s not about artificial intelligence. It’s about misogyny. It’s about women being possessed and controlled and refined towards some sort of ideal, compliant doll … until “womanly wiles” are used to deliver a comeuppance.

That said, I thought the movie was extremely well done – well written, gorgeously filmed, and well acted. I would just much rather see a film where the women start from a baseline of equal standing and go forth to do awesome things. For example, Ripley in Alien, Sarah Connor in Terminator, Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Debauchery, addiction, vast fortunes, exploitation, and very accomplished film making—these are some parallels with Ex Machina, although this is a very different movie. With The Wolf of Wall Street, it’s the dark comedic voice that makes the movie so entertaining. Knowing that it’s based on a true story makes it appalling, but there you go. I’m glad I saw it, but I won’t be watching it a second time.

Posted on: Monday, June 6th, 2016 at 12:38 pm
Categories: Movies.
Tags: ,

One Response to “Crabby Movie Reviews”

  1. H.W. MacNaughton Says:

    Those were not entirely crabby reviews by any means. Pretty fair. I had a different perspective on Ex Machina – agreed, superficially male gaze-y, but I saw it as an indictment of geek culture; alpha geek taken to the extreme. Having worked with those types, all the quirks were there but exaggerated. The ending in my view was the weakest part of the movie — sensational catharsis where it could have been built on subtlety and complexity. I would have liked to see the androids match Nathan psychologically: manipulate him into his own self-destruction– he seemed heading there after all. Ava would have had to have been more complex, which would have been a benefit IMO. But that would have made a longer film.