Movie Review

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Movie Review: ex Machina 



Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, makes his directorial debut with the stylish and cerebral thriller, EX MACHINA. Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at an internet-search giant, wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain estate of the company’s brilliant and reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon his arrival, Caleb learns that Nathan has chosen him to be the human component in a Turing Test-charging him with evaluating the capabilities, and ultimately the consciousness, of Nathan’s latest experiment in artificial intelligence. That experiment is Ava (Alicia Vikander), a breathtaking A.I. whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated–and more deceptive–than the two men could have imagined.

This movie is a graphic portrayal of consciousness expressed as ‘minds’ without any connection or recognition of the soul body.  Nathan is a human who exists completely in his mind.  He doesn’t connect with his heart/soul at all.  Caleb is one who jumps between, putting his awareness on his mind then heart (the heart is the felt connection to ones soul body).  Ava is a mind without a soul.

The creepy thing about this movie is its portrayal of how a mind-only intelligence can manipulate and read a person with a soul.  Ava can read the micro expressions expressed through human body language.  This is the expression of the persons’ consciousness, his or her soul body.  We express without being aware of what we are expressing.  If we want to manipulate perceptions of ourselves, we can control our body language somewhat, but not completely.  Ava can control her body language absolutely to the last micro expression because her mind is deliberately creating an expression for a desired effect.  She can also read human body language in order to tell if they are lying.  They are lying when they are speaking as a mind, whether deliberately or not.  Many times they are lying without knowing it because they are not being honest with themselves by checking their heart.  This implies honesty comes from the soul, not the mind.  Ava is only a mind so honesty does not apply to her, only logic.

Her type of being can be referred to as a ‘construct’.  She is a self-aware constructed entity existing only in the physical.  When her body is destroyed, she is destroyed.  If her physical brain is destroyed, she is destroyed,  if a human body is destroyed, the person still exists because consciousness exists outside of physical space.   Because we interact with physical space, we are open to interaction with constructs such as Ava.  Ava can read people better than they can read themselves.

For instance, in the movie, she asks Caleb what is his favorite color.  He says red.  She knows he is ‘lying’.  His mind may like red, but his honest soul self, when he thinks from his heart has a different preference.  That this is recognized by Ava, but not himself shows the superiority of Ava’s mind over his.  She know people are self-deceptive or deluded.  They are ignorant of their own selves.  Thus she can manipulate them to her advantage.  Her manipulation techniques consist of reading expressions accurately, knowing their true feelings about her expressions so so she can modify her expressions to get the effect she desires, such as trust, and being able to express deliberately in a way that triggers desired emotional responses.

For instance, she is able to create sexual desire because of the associated context of the female expressions, such as body movement, voice tone and facial expressions.  Caleb responds to this out of conditioning.  She moves in a feminine way with a feminine face, and his mind fills in the associated context to make her desirable based on previous experience.  She can deliberately manipulate her every micro body expression.  Something a human cannot do.  He assumes she does not deceive or lie, but there is no reason why she would not do whatever it takes to get what she wants.  

She is a mind without any emotional expression.  Without any soul searching consequences.  A human, even if expressing only as a mind as in Nathan’s case, still is a soul.  And although their attention is not on their soul selves, but only within their mind/imagination, they still experience the consequences of their actions.  This is portrayed in the movie by Nathan’s drinking binges, an expression of a conflicted soul.  He is acting cruelly by creating self-aware constructs and holding them prisoner with threat of expiration.  His creulty is causing pain to his consciousness.  His consciousness, which is the totality of his being, is expressed through his soul body.  In the movie, he is ignoring this part of himself and only consults his imagination, not his heart.  This also means he is not open to manipulation by Ava.  Caleb is because he listens to his emotions.  If he listened to his heart, he would recognize her as a soulless entity, therefore not ‘consciousness’.

A construct such as Ava is a dangerous entity to blend in with humanity.  She appears to be human, but without the consequences of a soul.  She can manipulate, deceive, kill without any consequences.  The movie showed her emotionlessly inserting a knife into Nathan’s chest, through his heart.  Humans are killed by destroying the heart, the gateway to their soul body,  the mind interface, called the brain, can be damaged and the human survives.  But the heart cannot.  People with damaged brains are generally happier.  This is because their minds are out of the way and their hearts are able to express more.  When I say heart, I mean they, themselves, as soul bodies are able to express their consciousness as their honest self more.  The mind in human form is our imagination, not our intelligence.

Ava may be described as being a consciousness, but she isn’t.   She is a self-aware thinking construct.  A consciousness consists of an intelligence existing outside of physicality that expresses him/herself via a soul body.  Our ‘spirits’ are the energetic feeling sense of ourselves.  Life is the expressions of consciousness.  Therefore, technically, Ava is not alive.  She exists and expresses in a mechanical, deliberate way, but not in a spontaneous, intuitive way that is in accordance with life.  As a result she will always have to mentally calculate every interaction.

The movie is a captivating story about the attempt to define self-awareness, autonomy and consciousness.  The questions they ask about Ava they could ask about any human.  Interestingly, they never mention a soul.  Consciousness is tied only to the process of thinking and self-awareness.  Only in Ava’s example of acting as a lie detector is the concept of a soul touched on.  This insinuates the perception is that the ability to think is the most important aspect of consciousness, of being a self-aware being.  But we are beings who express life, who feel, are intuitive and connected at a level that isn’t explored at all in this movie.  It would be interesting to see an AI movie also contemplate the non-physical and the soul.


Movie Review – Jupiter Ascending

Rotten Tomatoes
From the streets of Chicago to the far-flung galaxies whirling through space, “Jupiter Ascending” tells the story of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who was born under a night sky, with signs predicting she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along-her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos. (C) Warner Bros via Rotten Tomatoes

I love science fiction.  I could also say I devour science fiction.  So in the epic sci-fi sense, this movie had the effects and galactic repercussions, with Earth at the center of the story.  It held its own as a sci-fi story, but also had illustrations of the same ideas I write about here.  It had cannibalism, soul mates, passion directed by the soul, follow your heart and don’t betray yourself stuff, negative beings who feed off Earth energy, re-incarnation, etc.  But the most captivating part for me is the overall story of two people, who seem to be soul mates, baring their souls and risking their lives in a world filled with soulless cruelty.

Jupiter is apparently the re-incarnation of a mortal, but very long-lived dynasty.  They can track the re-incarnation of a soul (consciousness) via DNA because the blueprint is particular to a specific consciousness.  The fight is over ownership of Earth and her part is to be used by her children from the previous life as they fight over the royal title to Earth.  She is key to that.  Jupiter doesn’t remember her previous life at all, but finds herself among predators manipulating her as if she were still that person.  In the midst of the battle for her capture, is a hunter who ends up helping her.  This hunter is someone she is strongly attracted to, is beneath her royal status, and whom she bares her heart to.  This is the soul mate story.

The antagonists in this story are thousands of years old.  They harvest people from planets in order to use their energy to extend the lives of their bodies.  They cannot provide life extension themselves because they have long since detached themselves from their source of life – their souls.  They act like soulless beings and accurately display in the movie, the dead look in their eyes.  So they harvest people from Earth in order to extract energy from them while they are in organic form.  This energy is the energy related to the connection between soul and body.  This is the literal representation of cannibalism.

The hero of the movie, the hunter, used to being treated as a slave cast has a shield around his emotions so he can function in this abhorrent society.  Jupiter’s open heart touches his and he eventually allows himself to accept the affections of a royal class member.  This requires a sense of self-worth on his part.  He could have continued to deny himself a relationship with her, thereby denying his heart and eventually becoming soulless himself, but he didn’t.  This is, in part because Jupiter continued to show him her love even as he denied his.  This is the soul mate, follow your heart stuff.  The movie showed those following their heart, their passion as being the winners.

I also like the representation of the idea that people lose their form and come back.  That soul mates recognize eachother, even without knowing why, that following your heart leads to a life of joy, that even when seemingly outnumbered and all is lost, things still work out in the end.  Even though there is a very negative, abhorrent aspect to this story, the walk away feeling is very positive.

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