I absolutely loved this movie, as I did Ex Machina (2014) and, less enthusiastically, The Machine (2013). I think anyone who enjoys films of the AI genre should check out all three of these flicks. While Ex Machina has a much higher budget, Uncanny nonetheless delivers with a subtle charm that is fully backed up by a heady and intellectual script. Unfortunately, for me, the female lead seemed to be a bit plastered in at times. I didn’t care for — or identify with — her character, which may have been partly by design.
I should specify that the genre of these movies is not just “AI,” but also the genre of “theater as film.” Uncanny has a small, four-person cast, so the bulk of its content is in the script and the characters’ relationships, rather than special effects, action, or set design. And the movie made me think! The acting was sharp, focused, appropriately rational, and intellectually robotic. There was a very ominous undercurrent throughout the entire film, hinting at high-level conspiracy and the world-behind-the-world that we are only somewhat aware of in our daily lives. What captivated my attention most was how the film continually went back and forth between concepts of “machine as capable of consciousness” and “designer as illusionist.” It made me question my own neural programming as a human, and then juxtaposed that with the data-programming of a computer.
Some of the epiphanies I had while watching were actually nullified and confused by the end of the movie, which makes me think that I need to go back and watch it again. (I love movies that taunt me into watching them again in order to uncover what was really going on.) The most interesting question I had while watching Uncanny was, “If a computer that learns from humans calculates that a human has made a choice based on passion rather than logic, could that computer then learn programming based on chaos rather than order?” In a sense, computers, like children, learn early on that emotions, moods, and hidden agendas are used to manipulate and react to the environment. That’s my first impression, at least… But I really can’t wait to see this one again!
After watching Uncanny last night, I decided to watch Ex Machina again — and I loved it the second time around as well. I’m truly impressed with the ability of two different directors to take the same basic story and make two completely different, enjoyable presentations that stimulated my intellect in different ways.
Four pot leafs out of five: