Artificial intelligence that becomes just a little too human is a classic sci-fi premise—and that’s exactly the scenario laid out in the new trailer for Ex Machina, out April 10. The story covers familiar ground: A programmer named Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is summoned by a mysterious businessman (Oscar Isaac), who has developed a very pretty robot woman called Ava (Alicia Vikander). Caleb thinks he’s been brought to the inventor’s estate to test Ava—but he soon wonders whether she’s testing him instead. The film is a directorial debut for Alex Garland, the screenwriter behind such smart, memorable films as Never Let Me Go, 28 Days Later, and Sunshine.
Garland’s previous work is a strong indication that he can not only build gripping, original science fiction, but also that he can create compelling characters that don’t feel like tropes. Garland is no stranger to writing fascinating, nuanced female characters (Never Let Me Go is rife with them), which gives me hope that Ex Machina will not fall into the familiar traps that movies about aesthetically pleasing female robots often do. And if the trailer leaves any question as to whether or not the film will be exciting, consider the brilliant, slow-burn pacing of 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Strong praise for Ex Machina, from both the U.K. (where the film opened in January) and SXSW this week in Austin make me think this could be a good year for original sci-fi—or at least for Alex Garland.