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Tuesday, February 23, 2016



Ex Machina
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlex Garland
Produced by
Written byAlex Garland
Music by
CinematographyRob Hardy
Edited byMark Day
Distributed byA24 Films
Universal Pictures(International)
Release dates
  • 21 January 2015
Running time
108 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$15 million[2]
Box office$36.9 million[3]
Ex Machina (stylized as ex_machina) is a 2015 British science fiction psychological thriller film written and directed by Alex Garland in his directing debut. It stars Domhnall GleesonAlicia Vikander and Oscar IsaacEx Machina tells the story of programmer Caleb Smith (Gleeson) who is invited by his employer, the eccentric billionaire Nathan Bateman (Isaac), to administer the Turing test to an android with artificial intelligence (Vikander).
Made on a budget of $15 million, the film grossed over $36.9 million worldwide and received critical acclaim. The National Board of Reviewrecognized it as one of the ten best independent films of the year. The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay andBest Visual Effects, while Vikander was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and received several accolades for her performance.


Programmer Caleb wins a one-week visit to the secluded home of Nathan, the founder and CEO of his software company, Blue Book. The only other person there is Nathan's housemate Kyoko, who Nathan says does not speak English. Nathan has built a humanoid robot named Ava withartificial intelligence (AI) and wants Caleb to administer a Turing test, which tests an AI's ability to persuade the tester it is human. Caleb points out that this is not a fair test, as he already knows Ava is an AI; Nathan says that Ava has already surpassed the simple version of the Turing test, and Caleb must judge whether he can relate to Ava despite knowing she is artificial.
Ava has a robotic body, but a human-looking face and is confined to her apartment. Caleb grows close to her, and she tells him she wants to go on a date with him. She reveals she can trigger power outages that temporarily shut down the surveillance system which Nathan uses to monitor their interactions. The power outages also trigger the building's security system, locking all the doors. During one outage, Ava tells Caleb that Nathan is a liar who cannot be trusted.
Caleb encourages Nathan to drink until he passes out, then steals his security card to access Nathan's room and computer. After he alters some of Nathan's code, he discovers footage of Nathan mistreating earlier robot models, and discovers that Kyoko is also a robot. Back in his room, Caleb cuts his arm open to see his own flesh and blood.
At their next meeting, Ava cuts the power. Caleb says he thinks Nathan plans to reprogram Ava, "killing" her. Caleb also tells her he will get Nathan drunk and change the security system to lock Nathan in his room when there is another power failure. When Ava cuts the power, she and Caleb will be able to leave together.
Nathan reveals that he recorded their conversation with a battery-powered camera. He explains that because Ava seduced Caleb into helping her escape, she has passed the advanced version of the Turing test. Ava cuts the power, and Caleb reveals that he already modified the system when Nathan was passed out the previous day.
Ava leaves her confinement, but Nathan knocks her down, destroying her forearm. He begins to drag her back to her apartment. Kyoko stabs him in the back with a kitchen knife. Nathan knocks Kyoko down, but is stabbed to death by Ava. Ava uses parts from earlier androids to take on the full appearance of a woman. She leaves Caleb trapped inside the facility, and is picked up by the helicopter that was supposed to take him home.



The foundation for Ex Machina was laid when Garland was 11 or 12 years old, after he had done some basic coding and experimentation on a computer his parents had bought him and which he sometimes felt had a mind of its own.[4] His later ideas came from years of discussions he had been having with a friend with an expertise in neuroscience, who claimed machines could never become sentient. Trying to find an answer on his own he started reading books on the topic. During the pre-production of Dredd, while going through a book by Murray Shanahan about consciousness and embodiment, Garland had an "epiphany". The idea was written down and put aside till later.[5] Shanahan, along with Adam Rutherford, became a consultant for the film, and the ISBN of his book is referred to as an easter egg in the film.[6][7] Other inspirations came from films like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space OdysseyAltered States, and books written by Ludwig WittgensteinRay Kurzweil and others.[8] Wanting total creative freedom, without having to add conventional action sequences, he made the film on as small a budget as possible.[9]
The film was shot like ordinary live action. There were no special effects, greenscreen, or tracking markers used during filming. All effects were done in post-production. To create Ava's robotic features, they filmed the scenes both with and without actress Alicia Vikander's presence, which allowed them to capture the background behind her. The parts they wanted to keep, especially her hands and face, were then rotoscoped while the rest was digitally painted out and the background behind her restored. Camera- and body-tracking systems transferred Vikander's performance to the CGI robot's movements. In total, there were about 800 VFX shots, of which 350 or so were robot shots.[10][11]


The film was shot over four weeks in 2013 at Pinewood Studios and two weeks at Juvet Landscape Hotel in ValldalenNorway.[12] It was filmed in digital at 4K resolution.[13] 15,000 mini-tungsten pea bulb lights were installed into the sets to avoid the fluorescent light often used in science fiction films.[14]
The opening office scene is filmed at the Bloomberg Head Office in Finsbury Square, London.


The musical score for Ex Machina was composed by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, who previously worked with Garland on Dredd (2012).[15] A soundtrack album was released digitally on 20 January 2015, with an LP and Compact Disc UK release in February 2015 by Invada Records.[16] Additional songs featured in the film include:[17]
The theme song to the film Ghostbusters is listed in the end titles, credited as "words and music by Ray Erskine Publishing Limited", with its refrain being referenced by the character Nathan in conversation, rather than being performed.


Universal Pictures released Ex Machina in the United Kingdom on 21 January 2015.[18]
However, Universal and Focus Features refused to release the film in the United States, so A24 Films jumped on board for the United States release.[19] The film screened on 14 March 2015 at the South by Southwest festival prior to a theatrical release in the United States on 10 April 2015 by A24 Films.[20][21]


Using the dating app Tinder, a profile was created for Ava with the image of Alicia Vikander.[22] At the South by Southwest Festival where the film was screened, "Ava" was matched with other Tinder users, wherein a text conversation occurred that led users to the Instagram handle promoting the film. According to Brent Lang, when compared with similar films released in the same year, Ex Machina catered to young audiences.[23]

Critical reception[edit]

Ex Machina received critical acclaim for Garland's writing and direction, acting, atmosphere, special effects, and score. On website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 92%, based on 221 reviews, with a rating average of 8/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Ex Machina leans heavier on ideas than effects, but it's still a visually polished piece of work—and an uncommonly engaging sci-fi feature."[24] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 78 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[25] The magazine New Scientist in a multi-page review said, "It is a rare thing to see a movie about science that takes no prisoners intellectually ... [it] is a stylish, spare and cerebral psycho-techno thriller, which gives a much needed shot in the arm for smart science fiction."[26]
The New York Times critic Manohla Dargis gave the film a 'Critic's Pick', calling it "a smart, sleek movie about men and the machines they make".[27] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Timesrecommended the film, stating: "Shrewdly imagined and persuasively made, 'Ex Machina' is a spooky piece of speculative fiction that's completely plausible, capable of both thinking big thoughts and providing pulp thrills."[28] Steven ReaPhiladelphia Inquirer film critic, gave the film 4 out of 4 stars, writing: "Like stage actors who live and breathe their roles over the course of months, Isaac, Gleeson, and Vikander excel, and cast a spell."[29]
Matt Zoller Seitz from RogerEbert.com praised the use of ideas, ideals, and exploring society's male and female roles, through the use of an artificial intelligence. He also stated that the tight scripting and scenes allowed the film to move towards a fully justified and predictable end. He gave a rating of 4 out of 4 stars, stating that this film would be a classic.[30] IGN reviewer Chris Tilly gave the film a 9.0 out of 10 'Amazing' score, saying "Anchored by three dazzling central performances, it's a stunning directorial debut from Alex Garland that's essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in where technology is taking us."[31]
Mike Scott, writing for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, said, "It's a theme Mary Shelley brought us in Frankenstein, which was first published in 1818. That was almost 200 years ago. And whileEx Machina replaces the stitches and neck bolts with gears and fiber-optics, it all feels an awful lot like the same story."[32] Jaime Perales Contreras, writing for Letras Libres, compared Ex Machina as a gothic experience similar to a modern version of Frankenstein, saying "both the novel Frankenstein and the movie Ex Machina share the history of a fallible god in a continuous battle against his creation."[33] Steve Dalton from The Hollywood Reporter stated, "The story ends in a muddled rush, leaving many unanswered questions. Like a newly launched high-end smartphone, Ex Machina looks cool and sleek, but ultimately proves flimsy and underpowered. Still, for dystopian future-shock fans who can look beyond its basic design flaws, Garland’s feature debut functions just fine as superior pulp sci-fi."[34]


AwardCategoryRecipients and nomineesResult
Academy Awards[35]
Best Original ScreenplayAlex GarlandPending
Best Visual EffectsAndrew WhitehurstPaul NorrisMark Ardington and Sara BennettPending
Austin Film Critics AssociationBest Original ScreenplayAlex GarlandNominated
Best First FilmWon
Best Supporting ActorOscar IsaacNominated
Best Supporting ActressAlicia VikanderWon
Breakthrough ArtistNominated
Boston Society of Film CriticsBest New FilmmakerAlex GarlandWon
Broadcast Film Critics AssociationBest Original ScreenplayNominated
Best Sci-Fi/Horror MovieWon
Best Visual EffectsNominated
British Academy Film AwardsBest Actress in a Supporting RoleAlicia VikanderNominated
Best Original ScreenplayAlex GarlandNominated
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or ProducerNominated
Outstanding British FilmAlex Garland, Andrew Macdonald and Allon ReichNominated
Best Special Visual EffectsMark Ardington, Sara Bennett, Paul Norris and Andrew WhitehurstNominated
British Independent Film AwardsBest British Independent FilmWon
Best Director of a British Independent FilmAlex GarlandWon
Best ScreenplayWon
Outstanding Achievement in CraftMark Digby – Production DesignNominated
Andrew Whitehurst – Visual EffectsWon
British Society of CinematographersBest Cinematography in a Feature FilmRob HardyNominated
Chicago Film Critics AssociationBest Original ScreenplayAlex GarlandNominated
Most Promising FilmmakerWon
Best Supporting ActressAlicia VikanderWon
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics AssociationBest Supporting ActressRunner up
Directors Guild of America AwardOutstanding Directing – First-Time Feature FilmAlex GarlandWon
Empire AwardsBest ActressAlicia VikanderNominated
Golden Globe AwardBest Supporting Actress – Motion PictureNominated
National Board of ReviewTop 10 Independent FilmsWon
London Film Critics' CircleSupporting Actor of the YearOscar IsaacNominated
Supporting Actress of the YearAlicia VikanderNominated
Breakthrough British/Irish FilmmakerAlex GarlandNominated
Technical Achievement AwardAndrew WhitehurstNominated
Online Film Critics SocietyBest Supporting ActorOscar IsaacWon
Phoenix Critics CircleBest PictureNominated
Best Science Fiction FilmWon
Best DirectorAlex GarlandNominated
Best ScreenplayNominated
Best Supporting ActressAlicia VikanderWon
Producers Guild of America AwardBest Theatrical Motion Picture'Ex Machina'Nominated
San Diego Film Critics SocietyBest FilmRunner up
Best ActressAlicia VikanderNominated
Breakthrough ArtistRunner up
Body of Work (including other features)Won
Best Supporting ActorOscar IsaacRunner up
Best Original ScreenplayAlex GarlandNominated
Best Production DesignMark DigbyNominated
Best Sound DesignNominated
Best Visual EffectsNominated
Toronto Film Critics AssociationBest First FeatureAlex GarlandWon
Best Supporting ActressAlicia VikanderWon

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up^ "EX MACHINA (15)"British Board of Film Classification. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  2. Jump up^ "Ex Machina’s Alex Garland and Oscar Isaac Discuss Artificial Intelligence"Consequence of Sound.
  3. Jump up^ "Ex Machina (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved11 February 2016.
  4. Jump up^ 'Ex Machina' director: Selling small films takes work
  5. Jump up^ "Why are we obsessed with robots?"The Washington Post.
  6. Jump up^ "Ex Machina buried this insanely cool easter egg deep in its source code (literally)"Blastr.
  7. Jump up^ "Alex Garland’s Ex Machina: can a film about an attractive robot be feminist science fiction?"New Statesman.
  8. Jump up^ Matt Patches. "Ex Machina A.I. Inspirations - Alex Garland on Robots, Google, and Immortality"Esquire.
  9. Jump up^ "Exclusive: Ex Machina writer/director Alex Garland on 'small' sci-fi films, sentient machines and going mainstream"Blastr.
  10. Jump up^ "Inside the Creation of a Beautiful Robot for ‘Ex Machina’". c2meworld.com.
  11. Jump up^ Bryan Bishop. "More human than human: the making of Ex Machina’s incredible robot"The Verge.
  12. Jump up^ "Alex Garland on Building Ex Machina‘s Perfect Woman".The Credits.
  13. Jump up^ "Definition Magazine - Def Mag - Ex-Machina, the DIT Story". definitionmagazine.com.
  14. Jump up^ "Intelligent Artifice: Alex Garland’s Smart, Stylish Ex Machina"MovieMaker Magazine.
  15. Jump up^ "Invada UK To Release ‘Ex-Machina’ Soundtrack". 30 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  16. Jump up^ "‘Ex Machina’ Soundtrack Released". Film Music Reporter. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  17. Jump up^ "Ex Machina (2015)"Soundtrack.Net. Autotelics, LLC. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  18. Jump up^ Turner, Peter (21 January 2015). "Alex Garland | Ex Machina"Starburst. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  19. Jump up^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/focus-features-shake-up-whats-862969
  20. Jump up^ "Ex Machina – SXSW 2015 Event Schedule"South by Southwest. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  21. Jump up^ "Ex Machina Acquired By A24 For April 2015 Release". 30 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  22. Jump up^ "Tinder Users at SXSW Are Falling for This Woman, but She's Not What She Appears"AdWeek. Retrieved2015-11-11.
  23. Jump up^ Brent, Lang (October 13, 2015). "A24 sings a different tune: arthouse distributor that backed 'Amy' and 'Ex Machina' hopes 'Room' can continue its hot streak"Variety: 47.
  24. Jump up^ "Ex Machina"Rotten TomatoesFlixster. Retrieved8 December 2015.
  25. Jump up^ "Ex Machina"Metacritic. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  26. Jump up^ Anil Seth (24 January 2015). "Consciousness Awakening"New Scientist. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  27. Jump up^ Dargis, Manohla (9 April 2015). "Review: In ‘Ex Machina,’ a Mogul Fashions the Droid of His Dreams"The New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  28. Jump up^ Turan, Kenneth\ (9 April 2015). "Unnerving consideration of artificial intelligence in 'Ex Machina'"Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  29. Jump up^ Rea, Steven (24 April 2015). "'Ex Machina': Sentient robot casts a hypnotic spell"The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved4 June 2015.
  30. Jump up^ "Ex Machina"Roger Ebert.com. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  31. Jump up^ Chris Tilly (15 January 2015). "Ex Machina Review". IGN. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  32. Jump up^ Scott, Mike (22 April 2015). "'Ex Machina' movie review: Fetching sci-fi drama entertains, but its beauty is only skin-deep"New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved 16 July2015.
  33. Jump up^ Jaime Perales Contreras"Ex Machina o el moderno Frankenstein" (in Spanish). Letras Libres. Retrieved 8 July2015.
  34. Jump up^ "Ex Machina: Film Review"The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  35. Jump up^ "Oscar Nominations: The Complete List"Deadline.com. January 14, 2016. Retrieved January 14, 2016.

External links[edit]

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