It's only March, but it will take a great film to knock "Ex Machina" off its perch as the year's most intriguing science-fiction movie. Written and directed by Alex Garland -- making his proper directorial debut after writing the scripts for "The Beach," "28 Days Later" and "Sunshine" -- "Ex Machina" feels like the kind of Stanley Kubrick movie Ridley Scott would have made in the '70s. Set primarily on a remote estate of forest and mountains, the film focuses on what happens when a computer coding expert (Domhnall Gleeson) is brought to the home of his genius boss (Oscar Isaac) to conduct the Turing test on Ava (Alicia Vikander), a robot with advanced artificial intelligence. Over the course of an unsettling two hours, perceptions and allegiances shift on a dime, leaving the audience to constantly question what it is they actually see and hear.
Even the film's score isn't necessarily what it seems: co-written by Portishead's Geoff Barrow and composer Ben Salisbury, the soundtrack's key cue, "Ava," evokes John Williams' iconic theme from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
"It wasn't intentional," Garland told The Huffington Post about the audible similarities after the film's North American premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival. "Geoff and Ben, who wrote the score, are fucking brilliant guys. They don't come from a film writing background, they come from left field. They don't have a lot of grammar, which is a good thing because they're fresh and different. They wrote these beautiful bits of music, one of which was Ava's theme."
Garland said he thought Barrow and Salisbury's score was "fantastic," but the director didn't make the "Close Encounters" connection until he played their music for executive producer Tessa Ross.
"She said you can't do this because it's 'Close Encounters,'" Garland said. "I was like no it's not."
The fact two people heard two completely different things while listening to the score reminded Garland of the famous dress, the viral sensation that everyone on Earth talked about for a few days back in February. The clothing item set people into two camps in a battle over what it's true color was.
"What color is that dress? Blue and black? Well it's white and gold," Garland said confidently. ("It's both of them!" Isaac said with a laugh.)
Told by The Huffington Post that it was actually blue and black, Garland laughed.
"It's white and gold and it's not 'Close Encounters,'" he said. "You live a shifting parallel universe, and that's fine."
"Ex Machina" is out on April 10.