Ex Machina Film Review

Film Review by Clayton Barnett

The Premise
Caleb, a 26 year old coder at the world's largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world's first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.

The Review
If you like your sci-fi on the small scale (but with big ideas) Ex Machina is highly recommended viewing. Two The Force Awakens stars, Domnhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, have an engrossing battle of minds (and weapons) over whether Isaac’s A.I. (breathtaking Swede Alicia Vikander) is actually human.

Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later), one of my favourite writers and makes his directorial debut with such a stunning singular vision I can’t wait to see his follow-up, the Natalie Portman starring sci-fi Annihilation.


The Verdict
Adult sci-fi at it’s best, a mind bending battle of ideas with three stellar performances and a visually stunning debut from director Alex Garland

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: Out Now
Rating: Rating
Duration: 108 minutes 
Genre:  Sci-Fi
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac
Director: Alex Garland (Debut Feature Film)

The Extras
When Caleb sits down at Nathan's computer and begins coding, the code he types is for an algorithm called the Sieve of Eratosthenes an algorithm for finding prime numbers. However it also chooses prime numbers that form an ISBN = 9780199226559. This ISBN is for the book "Embodiment and the Inner Life: Cognition and Consciousness in the Space of Possible Minds", a book about the history of Artificial Intelligence.

Director, Alex Garland, has described the future presented in the film as 'ten minutes from now'. Meaning 'if somebody like Google or Apple announced tomorrow that they had made Ava, we would all be surprised, but we wouldn't be that surprised'.

The title derives from the Latin phrase 'Deus Ex-Machina', meaning 'a god From the Machine', a phrase that originated in Greek tragedies. An actor playing a god would be lowered down via a platform (machine) and solve the characters' issues, resulting in a happy ending for all.

When Nathan is about to pass out from drinking, he's reciting a scripture from the Hindu Gita: "...In sleep, in confusion, in the depths of shame, the good deeds a man has done before defend him." According to the J. Robert Oppenheimer book "American Prometheus", Oppenheimer translated and recited that poem a few days prior to a failed explosive test.

After the power lock down, Caleb exits his room, along the walls are versions of Ava's face and Greek masks used in classic Greek theater, a nod at "Deus ex Machina" used in classic Greek theater.

The sound made when the key-card activates a door to open is the 'Tejat' sound from the Android Operating System.

Caleb alludes to the fact that only Gods can create new life. The three main characters all have appropriate biblical names. Ava is a form of Eve, the first woman, Nathan was a prophet in the court of David, and Caleb was a spy sent by Moses to evaluate the Promised Land.

Early in the movie, Caleb listens to the Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark song "Enola Gay" (1980). The Enola Gay was the airplane used to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. Later, in talking to Nathan about how AI (Artificial Intelligence) will transform the world, Caleb shares J. Robert Oppenheimer's quote from the Bhagavad Gita about the making of that atomic bomb ("I am become death, the destroyer of worlds").

A portrait of Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein painted by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt is visible in Nathan's room. The subject of the portrait is the sister of Ludwig Wittgenstein, author of The Blue Book.

Kubrick connections: Besides sharing certain visual and tonal elements with Kubrick films, like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and The Shining (1980), Oscar Isaac has stated that Stanley Kubrick was one of the influences he used for Nathan, the character he played in the movie.