SYNOPSIS: After winning a competition to spend a week at the mountain estate of his company's brilliant CEO, programmer Caleb Smith arrives to discover he has been chosen to take part in a study of artificial intelligence. Sworn to secrecy and cut off from the outside world, Caleb meets his subject, a beguiling and seductive cyborg named Ava - and is plunged into an A.I. experiment beyond his wildest imaginings in this epic thriller charged with heart-stopping suspense.


Before they become household names in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) and Domhnall Gleeson (About Time) collaborated in this acclaimed UK made sci-fi thriller, Ex Machina.

A smart, entertaining sci-fi flick doesn’t require loud explosions every second or so to capture the attention of the audience. And this is what novelist/screenwriter turned filmmaker Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine) has opted to do for his directorial debut.

As the story goes, a programmer by the name of Caleb (Gleeson) has won the company’s lottery to meet its CEO, the reclusive and gifted Nathan Bateman (Isaac) at his secluded home in the mountains. The intention of inviting Caleb over is for him to test the consciousness of an A.I. robot, Ava (Alicia Vikander) which is created by Nathan himself using unorthodox methods. Days passed at the facility, Caleb starts to develop feelings for Ava and he soon realized Nathan is not the man he thought he is.   

The concept and moral obligation of developing artificial intelligence is explored and heavily dissected in Garland’s movie. Most of the time it’s surreal and intriguing. It’s intentionally slow paced and the frequent wordy exchanges between Nathan and Caleb undeniably create the illusion of who’s actually the manipulator or the tester.

Is Nathan playing God in his little cocoon? Is Ava as innocent as she looks? Provocative ideas are constantly being thrown at you. The premise at the very least hints of something very chilling in the climax and you simply can’t wait for it to reveal. And when the enigma is finally unraveled, you will find yourself being suck into this well-craft, complex story about the future of technology advancement.

Production design is sleek in general and the VFX shots are genuinely convincing despite the minimal budget. The performances of Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleesonand Alicia Vikander are almost flawless for the record. Of course, Ex Machina will not work if not for their exhilarating presences since the trio are basically the central cast members besides Nathan’s housemaid, a non-verbal character.

If you are disappointed with other A.I. related movies such as I, Robot and Transcendence or even the draggy Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence, Ex Machina should fare better in engaging the intellect side of you. 


Featuring indepth interviews with the cast and filmmakers, Through the Looking Glass: Creating Ex Machina runs at a whopping 40 minutes and intensively covers the script, characters, visual effects, costume design and much more.

Much of the information in 8 Behind-the-Scenes Vignettes have been covered earlier however for those who has shorter attention span, the various brief vignettes while not substantial provide just enough background info of the movie.

SXSW Q&A with Cast and Crew (consisting of director Garland, cinematographer Rob Hardy, Composers and Oscar Isaacs) is another great extra feature especially for those who are keen on the technical aspects of making the sci-fi title.

A collection of Lionsgate Trailers round up the DVD features. 


Overall, the digitally shot movie appears to be pretty sharp. Textures and colour palette are pleasant and outdoor nature shots are majestic. Since this is not a loud action sci-fi flick, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack does its job in the end with well-placed sound effects, brooding music cues and clean dialogue.



Review by Linus Tee



Genre: Sci-Fi/Drama
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, Corey Johnson, Sonoya Mizuno
Director: Alex Garland
Rating: M18 (Nudity and Some Violence)
Year Made: 2015
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/ExMachinaMovie


- "Through the Looking Glass: Creating Ex Machina" 5 Part Featurette
- 8 Behind-the-Scenes Vignettes
- SXSW Q&A with Cast and Crew


Languages: English
Subtitles: English/Spanish

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 1 hr 48 mins
Region Code: 1