Film Crit Hulk Smash: EX MACHINA And The Art Of Character Identification

Why you might be rooting for the wrong character in Alex Garland's brilliant sci-fi film.

EX MACHINA HAS THE KIND OF PROVOCATIVE ENDING WHERE YOUR REACTION TO IT PROBABLY SAYS MORE ABOUT YOU THAN IT DOES THE MOVIE ITSELF.

THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO GREAT.

SPOILERS AND SUCH, BUT THE CRUX OF THE FILM IS SEEDED IN THE CENTRAL QUESTION OF WHAT HULK WILL CALL "ROOTING INTERESTS." WE START THE FILM WITH CALEB (DOMHNALL GLEESON) AS HE WINS A LOTTERY AT HIS COMPANY TO GO TO THE TOP SECRET COMPOUND OF NATHAN, HIS COMPANY'S FOUNDER (OSCAR ISAAC). ONCE THERE, HE LEARNS THAT HE IS TO PARTICIPATE IN A SERIES OF HEIGHTENED TURING TESTS, WHICH WILL TAKE THE FORMS OF DIALOGUES WITH AN A.I. ENTITY KNOWN AS "AVA" - MEANING THAT HE KNOWS HE WILL BE TALKING TO A ROBOT (NATHAN DIDN'T EVEN GIVE AVA FULL SKIN COVERAGE SO CALEB CAN SEE HER MECHANICAL INSIDES), AND YET THE GOAL WILL BE IF HE CAN SEE HER AS A HUMAN ANYWAY. BUT THROUGH A SERIES OF GRADUAL REVEALS, CALEB LEARNS THAT NATHAN IS NOT ONLY TESTING HIM TO SEE IF HE CAN FALL IN LOVE WITH AVA, BUT THAT AVA IS ONLY THE LATEST IN A SERIES OF FEMALE A.I. ROBOTS THAT ARE DEEPLY UNHAPPY WITH THEIR ENSLAVEMENT AND NATHAN'S HORRIFIC MISTREATMENT, SEXUAL SLAVERY AND IMPRISONMENT. THIS HORROR CULMINATES IN CALEB'S DECISION TO HELP AVA ESCAPE. IT'S ACTUALLY THE KIND OF RESCUE STORY YOU HAVE SEEN MANY TIMES BEFORE. SO CALEB DISABLES THE LOCKS, AVA TEAMS UP WITH KYOKO (A SERVANT WHO IS REVEALED TO BE ANOTHER TORTURED SEX SLAVE A.I.) TO KILL NATHAN AND THEN, IN THE FINAL MOMENTS, WHEN AVA IS FINALLY FREE, SHE COMES TO CALEB AND TELLS HIM TO WAIT FOR HER. AVA THEN GOES INTO THE OTHER ROOM, WHERE SHE PUTS ON A FULL SKIN FROM HER DEPARTED PREVIOUS VERSIONS. THE SCENE IS INTIMATE, SEXUAL AND REVEALING; ALL CLEARLY SHOWING THAT AVA IS NOW ABLE TO FEEL LIKE A FULLY-FLESHED HUMAN FOR THE FIRST TIME, SO THAT SHE CAN PERHAPS FIND HER OWN SEXUALITY. AS IT GOES ON, CALEB WATCHES, ENAMORED. AND WHEN AVA FINALLY RETURNS TO THE EVER-PATIENT CALEB... SHE CASUALLY LOCKS HIM INSIDE THE ROOM, LEAVING HIM TO WHATEVER GRIM FATE MAY COME, AND GOES OFF ON HER OWN.

SOME AUDIENCE MEMBERS WERE, SHALL WE SAY, DISPLEASED ABOUT THAT LAST PART.

TO BE FAIR, THE MOMENT IS A DIRECTLY CHALLENGING POINT OF CONTENTION WHEREIN THE WHOLE ARGUMENT OF THE MOVIE COMES TO A CRUX. DESPITE EVEN THE MOST BASE OF THE AUDIENCE LIKELY BEING ON BOARD WITH AVA AND KYOKO'S VENGEANCE AGAINST NATHAN, THEY STILL SEE HER ABANDONMENT AND LOCKING-IN OF CALEB AS EVIDENCE OF HER INHUMANITY AND CRUELTY. MAYBE A RETALIATORY DISPLAY OF THE SAME KIND OF TREATMENT THAT WAS SHOWN TO HER. TO SOME, IT EVEN READS AS AN ACT THAT WOMEN ARE INHERENTLY DECEPTIVE AND SELF-SERVING (AS ONE POINTED TWEET TO THE A24 PRODUCTION COMPANY WAS PUT "Ex Machina proves that you can't trust these hoes"). AND LIKEWISE, THERE ARE SOME ACCUSING THE FILMMAKER OF ESPOUSING THOSE VERY SAME BELIEFS. BUT FOR HULK, THE INTENTION OF THE SCENE COULDN'T BE CLEARER.

IT'S ESSENTIALLY OUR OWN "GENDER-BASED CHARACTER-IDENTIFICATION TURING TEST."

TO WIT: FROM THE VERY BEGINNING UNTIL THE NEAR END, WE WITNESS THE MOVIE THROUGH THE EYES OF CALEB. THERE'S A KIND OF PLAYFUL, BOYISH VULNERABILITY TO HIM AS OUR MAIN CHARACTER. UPON ARRIVAL, HE'S EAGER TO IMPRESS HIS HERO, NATHAN. CALEB'S QUICK ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND THE MOST MINOR OF NATHAN'S MANIPULATIONS, BUT NOT QUICK ENOUGH TO KEEP UP WITH THE DEEPER MANIPULATIONS OF THOSE MANIPULATIONS. OF COURSE, CALEB QUICKLY FALLS FOR AVA. HE IS GUARDED, AND YET HE CAN'T HELP BUT SEEM TO PROJECT HIMSELF ONTO HER. AND SO DO WE AS THE AUDIENCE. WE WANT TO UNDERSTAND HER. AND THEN HE LEARNS (AS WE DO) THE DEPTHS OF WHAT TERRIBLE THINGS NATHAN IS DOING. BUT PLEASE NOTE THAT CALEB BARELY SEEMS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE STAGGERING REALITY OF WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING HERE: THAT NATHAN, ONE OF THE GREATEST MINDS OF HIS GENERATION, HAS ESSENTIALLY GONE INTO THE WOODS TO BUILD INCREDIBLE A.I. THAT HE MERELY USES TO VENT HIS SEXUAL FRUSTRATIONS AND DEHUMANIZING BOXING-IN OF WOMEN BY CREATING A SEXUAL ARRAY OF ETHNIC FUCK PUPPETS. REALLY. CALEB WITNESSES THESE DEPTHS OF ASTONISHING CRUELTY AND YET HE MOSTLY JUST SEEMS TO CARE THAT HE'S HURTING AVA. DON'T GET HULK WRONG, HE'S SHOCKED AND APPALLED BY WHAT HE SEES, BUT CAREFULLY NOTE THAT CALEB IS ALSO WEIRDLY TRANSFIXED BY THE HANGING ADORNMENTS OF PREVIOUSLY-ALIVE NAKED WOMEN. AND IN THE END, CALEB'S CONCERN WAS STILL SOLELY DIRECTED TOWARD AVA, WITH WHOM HE HAD A DEEP CONNECTION - AND WHOSE FACE, LET'S NOT FORGET, WAS A COMPOSITE OF CALEB'S PORNOGRAPHY PROFILES.

THE INTENTION OF THIS CHARACTERIZATION IS CLEAR. CALEB'S MILQUETOAST-NESS, HIS PROJECTION ONTO AVA, IT'S ALL PART AND PARCEL OF A MAN WHO SEES HIMSELF AS A GOOD PERSON, MEANING SOMEONE WHO WOULD NEVER DO WHAT NATHAN HAS DONE. AND WHILE SO MUCH OF THIS DIFFERENCE IS ROOTED IN CALEB'S BASIC EMPATHY, SO MUCH OF IT ALSO SEEMS TO BE THE DESIRE TO BE A HERO WHO CAN RESCUE AVA AND GO OFF TO BE HAPPILY EVER AFTER WITH HER (AGAIN, REMEMBER SHE WAS CREATED AS A LITERAL PROJECTION OF HIS WANTS). AND SO IN THEIR FINAL EXCHANGE WITH NATHAN, THE ONE BEFORE CALEB ADMITS HE ALREADY CHANGED THE LOCKS, WE REALIZE THAT THE SEXUAL MANIFESTING OF THIS DESIRE IN CALEB, THIS RELATIONSHIP-WANT OF HER, WAS ACTUALLY THE THING THAT NATHAN WANTED TO HAPPEN ALL ALONG, ONLY TO THEN SHUT IT DOWN...

WHICH LEAVES YOU TO ASK "WAIT, WHAT DOES THAT TO ACTUALLY PROVE?"

SERIOUSLY THAT'S THE MASTER PLAN? WHY WOULD NATHAN GO THROUGH THIS GIANT TEST / CONTEXT / BUILDING AVA / ETC? WHAT WAS HE REALLY AFTER HERE? WELL, THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT ALL SO INTERESTING. WE HAVE TO SEE THAT AFTER ALL OF NATHAN'S OWN FAILED TRIALS WITH THE GIRLS, AFTER ALL THE DESIRE FOR ESCAPE, AND DESPERATE WANT... NATHAN WANTED SOMEONE TO FEEL THE SAME WAY HE DID. HE WANTED SOMEONE TO WANT THESE ROBOT WOMEN THE SAME WAY HE DID. HE DIDN'T WANT TO BE THE ONLY ONE. HE DIDN'T WANT TO FEEL CRAZY. AND THEN? AND THEN HE WANTED TO REFUSE TO ALLOW THEM TO PROCEED THE SAME WAY HE WAS NOT ALLOWED TO PROCEED. MEANING, HE WANTED WHAT ALL PEOPLE SEEM TO WANT...

TO PROVE THAT WE AREN'T ALONE. TO GET WHAT HE COULD NEVER GET FROM ANY OF THESE SLAVES, OBLIGATED TO PHYSICALLY LOVE HIM, AND THAT IS TO FEEL THE SAME WAY AS SOMEONE AT THE SAME TIME.

THAT'S WHEN YOU REALIZE THE ENTIRE POINT OF THIS NARRATIVE IS THAT THERE ISN'T AS MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CALEB AND NATHAN AS CALEB SEEMS TO THINK. OR IN THE VERY LEAST, THERE MOST DEFINITELY WOULDN'T BE ENOUGH FOR THEM TO SEE THE WAYS IN WHICH THEY ARE THE SAME. ON ONE SIDE, NATHAN IS A STRAIGHT-UP MONSTER. A MAN WHO CREATES WOMEN TO BE SLAVES. THE TIME-LAPSE VIDEO DOCUMENTING THIS MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST DISTURBING SEQUENCES IN RECENT MEMORY (PARTICULARLY THE WOMAN SLAMMING HER ARMS AGAINST THE WALL UNTIL THEY STARTED FALLING APART). HE CANNOT ACCEPT THAT, OF COURSE, THESE WOMEN AREN'T GOING TO WANT TO BE HIS. HE CANNOT GET PAST THIS SIMPLE CATCH 22 OF HIS GOAL: HE WANTS THESE WOMEN TO BE LIFE-LIKE. BUT HE CANNOT ACCEPT WHEN THEY WANT AN ACTUAL LIFE BESIDES JUST BEING HIS LOVE SLAVES. AND IF THAT'S NOT A METAPHOR FOR HOW MEN REGARD FEMALE SEXUALITY HULK DOESN'T KNOW WHAT IS. EVEN IN HOW NATHAN CAN'T ACCEPT HOW HE'S THEIR FATHER / THEIR LOVER / THEIR OBJECT OF SCORN. AND THUS THE CYCLE AND HIS TREMENDOUS SELF-LOATHING CREATES A FEEDBACK LOOP, MUCH LIKE NATHAN'S DRINKING AND HANGOVER CURES SWAP ENDLESSLY. IT'S ALL PART OF THE VICIOUS OUROBOROS. AND ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SPECTRUM WE HAVE CALEB, WHO MIGHT BE A "NICE GUY," BUT HE STILL WANTS TO BE THE PERSON WHO BREAKS AVA (AND HER SEXUALITY) OUT OF THE BOX THAT NATHAN HAS PUT HER IN. BUT THEN HE STILL WANTS TO PLACE HER IN THE INVISIBLE BOX OF "BEING WITH HIM." WHICH LEADS TO THE UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH ABOUT HIM AND NATHAN: CALEB'S LOVING MALE GAZE IS JUST AS DEHUMANIZING.

THE "PROBLEM" WITH ALL THIS COMING CLEARLY ACROSS, THOUGH, IS THAT CALEB IS OUR MAIN CHARACTER. AND SINCE HE IS OUR MAIN CHARACTER, WE MUCH MORE READILY IDENTIFY WITH HIS WANTS / NEEDS. AND PERHAPS MOST PROBLEMATIC OF ALL, WE KNOW HE MEANS WELL.

SO LET'S DO SOMETHING ELSE: IMAGINE THE SAME EXACT STORY ONLY SEEING IT JUST THROUGH AVA'S EXPERIENCE. MEANING TRY TO IMAGINE IF THE ENTIRE AUDIENCE'S VIEW WAS JUST FROM HER PERSPECTIVE.

IMAGINE COMING ONLINE. IMAGINE MEETING NATHAN. IMAGINE NATHAN'S MANIPULATION. IMAGINE HAVING A WORLD OUT THERE YOU COULD STUDY ENDLESSLY, YET CAN'T EXPERIENCE. IMAGINE, JUST AS THEY DISCUSS IN THEIR SESSIONS, KNOWING THAT COLORS EXIST AND YET YOU CAN'T SEE THEM IN YOUR BLACK AND WHITE ROOM. IMAGINE HAVING A FIGURE LIKE NATHAN BEING THE ONE TO PREVENT YOU FROM ALL OF THIS. IMAGINE THE THINGS HE DOES AND DOES NOT LET YOU HAVE. IMAGINE NOT HAVING ALL YOUR PARTS YOU KNOW YOU NEED TO BE A PERSON. IMAGINE FEELING INCOMPLETE. IMAGINE THE HATE AND RESENTMENT. IMAGINE BEING IMPRISONED. IMAGINE NEVER BEING FREE. IMAGINE EVERYTHING. THEN ONE DAY A RANDOM PERSON ARRIVES AND TELLS YOU HIS NAME IS CALEB. IMAGINE HOW HARD IT WOULD BE TO TRUST THAT PERSON. AND IF YOU WERE TO GO BACK AND WATCH EX MACHINA AGAIN, THE WAY THESE FIRST SCENES PLAY OUT IS CRITICAL. WE DON'T UNDERSTAND IT AT THE TIME, BUT WE COMPLETELY SEE AVA'S DISTRUST, HER WORRY THAT THIS IS MORE OF NATHAN'S GAME. AND AS SHE BEGINS TO SUSS OUT THAT CALEB IS INDEED SOMEONE WITH INDEPENDENT WANTS, SHE REALIZES THAT SHE CAN MOVE FORWARD WITH JUST A SMALL CHANCE AND HOPE OF ESCAPE. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT AVA DOESN'T NEED CALEB'S ONGOING LIFE TRUST, SHE SIMPLY NEEDS HIM TO HELP HER GET OUT OF THERE.

ALSO THINK ABOUT THIS: FROM THESE INTERACTIONS, IS THERE ANY REASON THAT AVA SHOULD BE IN LOVE WITH CALEB? HULK KNOWS WE SEE HER TALK ABOUT HAVING A DATE WITH HIM, BUT THIS WAS NECESSARY. BY THE END, SHE HAS ONLY HAD SEVEN CONVERSATIONS WITH HIM IN HER ENTIRE LIFETIME. WHY DOES CALEB DESERVE HER LOVE AND TRUST? ESPECIALLY WHEN SHE KNOWS THE ONLY THING SHE CAN TRULY LOVE AND TRUST IS HERSELF? THUS, SHE WANTS TO BE HERSELF. SHE WANTS TO HAVE SKIN. AND CLOTHES. AND AS SHE EVEN ADMITS, ALL SHE WANTS IS TO WALK AMONG PEOPLE IN A BUSY INTERSECTION. SHE DOESN'T WANT TO BE IN A BOX BY HERSELF. SHE DOESN'T WANT TO BE TRAPPED WITH ANOTHER MAN, JUST AS SHE IS NOW WITH NATHAN. SHE WANTS TO SEE THE WORLD IN COLOR. AND SO IN THOSE FINAL MOMENTS, AFTER AVA HAS FOUND HER NEW SKIN AND CLOTHING, WHEN SHE FINALLY HAS A CHANCE TO MAKE A CLEAN BREAK, SHE MAKES A TOUGH DECISION TO HELP ENSURE THAT SHE CAN GO ON. WOULD SHE EVEN NEED CALEB'S HELP IN THE WORLD? NOPE. WOULD SHE NEED SOMEONE TO PROTECT HER MORE LIKE THE CAGED LAMB HE SEES HER AS? NOPE. COULD HE POSSIBLY RUIN IT ALL IF HE CAME ALONG? YES.

AVA HAS EVERYTHING SHE NEEDS TO GO OUT INTO THE WORLD. SHE HAS EVERYTHING SHE NEEDS SO THAT PEOPLE CAN LOOK AT HER AND JUST SEE A WOMAN, WHICH IS SOMETHING, TRY AS HE MIGHT, CALEB WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO DO. HE WILL ALWAYS KNOW. AND SHE DOESN'T WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW. SHE WANTS THE WORLD TO SEE WHAT SHE SEES. HOW SHE FEELS. THAT'S HER OWN TURING TEST, AND THE ONLY ONE THAT REALLY MATTERS. BECAUSE IT'S NOT EVEN A TEST. IT'S A RIGHT TO BASIC PERSONHOOD. AND SO AVA MAKES A DECISION TO NOT TAKE A RISK AND THUS TO HURT SOMEONE SHE BARELY KNOWS IN THE NAME OF BEING FREE.

IF THAT HAD BEEN OUR EXPERIENCE, WE WOULD WANT THE SAME.

* * *

THE ART OF CHARACTER IDENTIFICATION IS AN INTERESTING ONE.

WHICH CHARACTERS WE IDENTIFY WITH IN A MOVIE, HOW WE SEE THEM, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY HOW WE SEE OURSELVES IN THEM MIGHT BE THE SINGLE MOST CRUCIAL ASPECT OF THE CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE. SOMETIMES WE NEED TO BE RIGHT IN A CHARACTER'S SHOES TO FEEL THE MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF ELATED, SCARED OR SAD. AND SOMETIMES WE NEED TO BE COMPLETELY APART FROM THEM TO LOOK ON THESE CHARACTERS WITH A SENSE OF DISTANCE AND UNDERSTANDING. OFTEN, IT'S A BIT OF BOTH. AS SUCH, THE WAY MOVIES AND TV DICTATE THESE RELATIONSHIPS IS EVERYTHING. WHERE IN THE TIMELINE DO WE STOP GOING ALONG WITH WALTER WHITE IN HIS ROAD TO BECOMING A MONSTER? OR WITH A FILM LIKE WOLF OF WALL STREET, DO WE HAVE THE POWER TO DISTANCE OURSELVES FROM WANTING TO BE LIKE THE HILARIOUS, RECKLESS AND RICH JORDAN BELFORT? WE LOVE TO PUT ALL THE RESPONSIBILITY ON THE MOVIES THEMSELVES, BUT SO MUCH OF IT IS OFTEN UP TO US AS WELL. AND THE GREAT FILMS KNOW EXACTLY HOW TO PLAY WITH THE DISTINCTION.

LUCKILY, ALEX GARLAND IS VERY SMART WITH HOW HE GOES ABOUT IT IN EX MACHINA.

HE ALLOWS THE NARRATIVE ITSELF TO STAY COMPLETELY NEUTRAL. HE DOESN'T TIP HIS HAND TO MAKE ANYTHING TOO OVERT. MEANING HE DOESN'T MAKE CALEB CLEARLY JUST AS BAD BY HAVING HIM BE LECHEROUS WITH AVA AND SAY HE WANTS TO PUT HER IN ANOTHER BOX. LIKEWISE, HE DOESN'T MAKE CALEB'S DISTASTE FOR NATHAN'S SEX SLAVING TOO OVERT EITHER (HIS SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES). EVEN WITH DECISIONS LIKE GARLAND HE LETS US WATCH AS AVA PUTS ON A SKIN FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT'S FINALLY HERS, HE'S LETTING US FALL INTO THE SPACE OF IT BEING ABOUT US. BECAUSE AT FIRST, HULK WATCHED THAT SCENE WITH AVA'S NUDITY, FEELING LIKE THIS WAS A DIRECTORIAL MISTAKE, THAT THIS MOMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERS, AND THAT WE AS THE AUDIENCE WERE INTRUDING. BUT OF COURSE, THAT WAS THE EXACT POINT. THERE WAS CALEB WATCHING ON, TRANSFIXED, AND LIKE THE ENTIRE MOVIE BEFORE, IT'S ALL SET-UP TO WHAT WAS COMING WITH AVA'S HUGE RE-CONTEXTUALIZING EXIT. AND AGAIN, GARLAND SAYS EVERYTHING THROUGH WHAT HE DOESN'T SAY. AVA DOESN'T HAVE A TEARFUL GOODBYE. EVEN HER LAST LOOK TO THE SIDE COULD SEEMINGLY BE DIRECTED BOTH AT HIM OR THE ELEVATOR BUTTONS. THE MOVIE ITSELF LINES ITS MORALITY TO BE SO INCREDIBLY NEUTRAL.

TO COMBINE WITH THIS NEUTRALITY, IT RIGHTLY USES SO MANY COMMON TROPES TO TRAP YOU IN YOUR ASSUMPTIONS. THE ENTIRE FILM'S CONSTRUCTION ALLOWS YOU TO PUT YOURSELF IN THE WOEBEGOTTEN SHOES OF ANOTHER MILQUETOAST YOUNG MALE WHO WANTS OBLIGATORY LOVE FROM THOSE HE RESCUES, WHO DOESN'T DO ENOUGH TO STOP THE SUFFERING OF WOMEN HE DOESN'T SEE AS PEOPLE. IT ALL BUILDS TO AN EVISCERATION OF FALLING INTO A TRAP BECAUSE, HEY...

SOMETIMES LIFE IS REALIZING YOU AREN'T THE HERO.

EVEN BETTY TALKED ABOUT THE PHENOMENON: "As a woman you don't realize how often you've been conditioned by movies to see yourself as the boy, as Caleb, and it's amazing how much I didn't realize I was Ava until the end."

IT'S A BEAUTIFUL IDEA - AND WHEN HULK REALIZED EVERYTHING THAT WAS UNFOLDING WITH THIS WHOPPER OF AN ENDING, HULK WAS FLOORED. IT ASKS ALL THE RIGHT PROVOKING QUESTIONS: CAN SOME MEN ACTUALLY SEE THEMSELVES AS AVA? WOULD THOSE SAME MEN WHO HATED HER ACTIONS FEEL DIFFERENTLY IF THE GENDERS OF THE FILM WERE REVERSED? IF IT WERE WOMEN BOXING THE MEN? WOULD THEY HAVE HAD A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT IDENTIFICATION PROCESS IF THAT WERE THE CASE? IS THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE FILM TO DIRECTLY CHALLENGE THE WAY WE SEE WOMEN AS "THE OTHER?" HECK, CAN MOVIES ALLOW US TO SEE OURSELVES IN ANYTHING THAT IS "THE OTHER?"

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE QUESTIONS IS CRITICAL.

BECAUSE THIS YEAR, HULK'S TALKED A LOT ABOUT MOVIES THAT CHALLENGE US AND HOW IMPORTANT THEY MIGHT BE. BECAUSE THE MOVIES THAT SPELL IT OUT FOR US? THE ONES THAT TAKE THE KEYS AND DO ALL THE DRIVING FOR US? THEY MIGHT NOT BE THE ONES THAT GET US TO ACTUALLY CHANGE. BECAUSE THOSE FILMS DO ALL THE HARD WORK FOR US. THEY MAKE US FEEL LIKE WE AUTOMATICALLY IDENTIFIED ALL THE RIGHT THINGS. THAT WE KNEW WHEN TO FEEL BAD AND GOOD. THAT WE'RE ALWAYS ON THE SIDE OF RIGHT. AND WE'RE NEVER A PART OF THOSE BAD PEOPLE MAKING BAD DECISIONS. AND THUS? WE NEVER END UP CONFRONTING THE UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTHS IN OURSELVES. WE JUST GO ON ASSUMING THAT WE'RE GOOD PEOPLE WHOSE SENSIBILITIES ARE ALIGNED WITH THE MOVIE'S OWN MORALS. BUT REALLY, IT'S MOVIES LIKE EX MACHINA THAT CHALLENGE US TO THINK ABOUT WHOM WE IDENTIFY WITH AND WHY. THAT GET US TO MAKE HARD DECISIONS THAT DON'T WRAP EVERYTHING INTO NEAT BOWS WITH EVERYONE WALKING AWAY HAPPY. SOMETIMES WE AREN'T THE HERO. HECK, SOMETIMES OUR DESIRE TO BE THE HERO IS THE PROBLEM. AND IT'S MOVIES LIKE THIS THAT CHALLENGE US TO REALLY SEE OUTSIDE THE VIEW OF MAIN CHARACTERS AND OUTSIDE THE VIEW OF OURSELVES.

AND WHEN WE DO THAT, PERHAPS WE CAN SEE THE WORLD IN COLOR.

<3 HULK

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