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Ex Machina Ava Caleb Nathan Kyoko Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Sonoya Mizuno, Alex Garland

Ex Machina: a young programmer wins a contest to spend a week with his boss to complete every nerds fantasy; participating in the ultimate Turing Test with a sexy humanoid robo-babe!! There’s no doubting that it’s an ambitious movie; it’s not particularly dumbed down, leaning on some quite technical programming / A.I. terminology and dialogue – there’s no explosions or robots hitting robots in here, and the focus isn’t solely on the droid-meets-boy angle. It’s a fun film to watch because the script and acting are continually misleading and distracting you – hinting that a person or story may go down one path, which isn’t always the case. The direction’s solid, especially for a first-timer – there’s a sustained creepy and unsettling tone, especially once the plot gets rolling, which is aided by an ominous electronic score, crafting a slowly unraveling spiral that even dabbles with horror and body horror elements towards the end. The coldness of the house/facility, and TrollHunter-esque organic, wild and remote scenery also play a large part. My only real issue with this is that the last 5 minutes include some seriously lingering shots of nudity, which felt unnecessary – especially given that the characters are covered for most of the duration. The slickness and simplicity of  Ex Machina is like a shiny facade, behind it are dozens of bigger questions about humans, creations, robots, A.I., ethics, religion… although it’s hard to tell if this is all deliberate, as it’s somewhere between Blade Runner / A.I. lite and a slicker, stripped back Frankenstein – with a hardware and firmware updates, of course.

Score: 7.5/10

Dredd 3D: during an assessment of a rookie, supercop Judge Dredd and his new partner are locked in a tower-block and forced to fight their way to the top to defeat the main crime-lord, MaMa. It seems to have more than a coincidental resemblance to The Raid in both its premise and visuals – but think less intricate fighting and more people shooting each other for 80 mins. The violence is fairly graphic and hyper-stylised, leaving a lot to love for the action/gore fans. Karl Urban‘s a strange casting decision: not quite big enough to put many bums on seats, but he can chin-act like a boss (essential), fire a big gun (also essential) and his deadpan comic delivery is entertaining – so I guess it all levels out. His sidekick (Olivia Thirlby) and antagonist (Lena Headey) both play their roles very well. The 3D was unnecessary – fast action scenes struggle – and only really comes to life in the Slo-Mo scenes: there’s also plenty ghosting in dark scenes with bright elements. All-in, the CGI-heavy action-centric Dredd 3D maxes out on gore, violence and craziness (like the scene inside the criminal’s mind), but somehow manages to remain short, punchy and entertaining enough to stop you realising how big, loud and dumb it is.

Score: 6.5/10