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.
Since Fritz Lang gave us'false Maria' in 1927's landmark sci-fi film Metropolis, robots have terrified and fascinated moviegoers in equal measure. With the release of Alex Garland's Ex Machina, Michael Hogan picks his top 20 films (in no particular order); including Star Wars, The Terminator, Star Trek and Blade Runner; that star A.I. beings who have challenged what it means to be human.
There are a couple routes screenwriters have for delivering information to their audience. There's exposition -- where plot or character is explained through dialogue -- then there are visual or aural descriptions meant to convey emotion. Basically it all boils down to telling or showing, but however its done, every line of dialogue, every scene, and every emotion in a film should have one express purpose: to advance the story. How a screenwriter chooses to reveal the information of their characters and plot has a direct relation to how we experience the tone and atmosphere of a film, and as such, that information (and our emotions about said information) are ripe for manipulation. Take Alex Garland's script for Ex Machina, which he also directed.