Ex Machina is a 2015 science fiction psychological thriller film written and directed by Alex Garland (in his directorial debut) and stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaac. The film follows a programmer who is invited by his CEO to administer the Turing test to an intelligent humanoid robot. Made on a budget of $15 million, the film grossed $36 million worldwide. The National Board of Review recognized it as one of the ten best independent films of the year and the 88th Academy Awards honored the film with the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, for artists Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Williams Ardington and Sara Bennett. Garland was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, while Vikander's performance earned her Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, Empire Award and Saturn Award nominations, plus several film critic award wins, for Best Supporting Actress.
The Turing test detects if a machine can truly think like a human. If you were to mash the two together to create a particularly messy Venn diagram, the overlap shall henceforth be known as the Ex Machina Zone. In writer/director Alex Garland's thought-provoking new film--out Friday--we meet Ava (Alicia Vikander), an artificially-intelligent robot. Ava's creator, genius tech billionaire Nathan (Oscar Isaac), has asked his employee Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) to determine whether Ava's thinking is indistinguishable from a human's. Until she meets Caleb, Ava has only ever met her maker and one other woman.
The new British sci-fi film "Ex Machina," rolling into U.S. theaters over the next few weeks, is the kind of movie that discerning science fiction fans will want to seek out. Directed by Alex Garland (screenwriter of Sunshine and 28 Days Later), "Ex Machina" is a modern-day riff on the Frankenstein story, with high-tech labs, mad scientists and troublesome artificial intelligence (A.I.). It's got some thrilling twists, but "Ex Machina" is more about ideas than action, and it takes its science seriously. The setup: Computer coder Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is summoned to the remote research lab of his boss Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the reclusive genius founder of a ginormous tech company that doesn't rhyme with Google, but may as well. There, Caleb meets Ava -- a super-advanced A.I. housed in a super-advanced robotic body, played by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander.
There is an indisputable link between Victor Frankenstein's creation (let's try and veer away from the term monster), and Artificial Intelligence. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's narrative of the modern Prometheus has travelled through time and space, surpassing generations. For me, the classic tale of Frankenstein and his creation is timeless - in the true sense of the word. It cannot be bolted down. Bore from growing scientific circles of the Victorian era and the mind of an intellectually advanced teenage girl, it boasts post-modern sensibilities and futuristic ideals.
The title of Alex Garland's 2015 thoughtful psychological thriller Ex Machina derives its name from the ancient Greek phrase deus ex machina, meaning'god from the machine.' By omitting the deus from the film's title, it's clear Garland wants his audience to question both the roles of God and man. There's the godly referencing and positioning of Oscar Isaacs's secluded genius, Nathan, the creator of Ava, a robot with consciousness played by Alicia Vikander. And Ava's emotional existence itself goes against the idea of the natural in God, since she is a manmade creation. Meanwhile, the natural world of Ex Machina -- the trees that blend Nathan's perfectly rectangular home into the forest -- acts as a direct juxtaposition to the technological imagery that fills the rest of the film.