A bright young man at a fancy tech company (Domhnall Gleeson) gets picked to visit the company’s founder (Oscar Isaac) in his country home, er, homey concrete fortress. There, he is introduced to Ava (Alicia Vikander), a sweet and pretty robot who might just be the world’s first Artificial Intelligence. Our hero’s mission: talk to her and find out if she’s the real deal. Ava is a wonder: unlike Her's Samantha, whose lack of a body made for a fundamental disconnect with her beloved, this lady AI is not only embodied but also anatomically correct, a feature which may complicate our assessor's task. But it's Isaac — buffed, bald, and bearded — is the film’s dramatic center as Nathan, a man betrayed by his own genius. He struts, he speechifies, he schemes, he scolds, all friendly menace and sly frankness. (He’s really smart, and certainly self-conscious, but is he entirely human?) Writer-director Alex Garland (writer of 28 Days Later) makes excellent use of his spooky, locked-down setting; ups the tension with sure, slow hand; and delivers a satisfying, unsettling ending. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
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