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.
"If you've created a conscious machine," says Caleb to Nathan toward the beginning of Ex Machina, when Caleb discovers Nathan is on the verge of creating an artificial intelligence indistinguishable from human intelligence, "it's not the history of man. Ex Machina, written and directed by Alex Garland, is an intriguing film about the wonders and dangers of artificial intelligence (AI). Garland's tale is stylishly told, beautifully photographed, and aided by a clever script that subverts standard cinematic clichés. It is also suffused with religious themes and theological motifs--unsurprisingly, because ever since Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the prospect of human beings creating human-like beings of their own has almost invariably raised the issue of "playing God." In Ex Machina, Caleb is a computer coder brought to Nathan's secret research facility to apply the Turing Test to Nathan's AI--that is, to test whether a human interacting with the robot would be able to tell that the AI is non-human.
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.
Everything in our online life is indexed. Every idle tweet, status update, or curious search query feeds the Google database. The tech giant recently bought a leading artificial-intelligence research outlet, and it already has a robotics company on its books. So what if Google, or Facebook, or any of the companies we entrust our information to, wanted to use our search histories to create an artificially intelligent robot? Writer and director Alex Garland's new film, Ex Machina, looks at just that.
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.