13.10.15 – Ex Machina Review

Main Characters in Ex Machina

Nathan
Owns his own company and wrote the code for the world’s most popular search engine: Bluebook. He is the mastermind behind the creation of Ava, the AI.

Caleb
A programmer who works for Nathan’s company. He wins a one-week visit to Nathan’s secluded home and research facility. His purpose is to test the AI Nathan has created.

Ava
The artificially-intelligent humanoid robot which has never been out of Nathan’s house before.

For a summary of the film, click here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0470752/synopsis


My Opinion

nathan_stillNATHAN
“One day the AI’s are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.”

What I gathered from the few people I spoke to after the film, is that many of them seemed to think of Nathan as the villain in the film which is understandable since he is quite crude and blunt. However I never quite saw him in that light. One cannot deny that the way he treated previous AI’s and his assistant, Kyoko is savage to say the least. The sexual relationship with Kyoko clearly underlines the loneliness Nathan feels and the hatred and arrogance towards her shows how conflicted his relationship is with his creation.

Although he has obviously managed to create an AI which seems to be fully functional (Kyoko), he seems to want to go beyond that and trying to create a legacy of his own. In fact when Caleb says “If you’ve created a conscious machine, it’s not the history of man. That’s the history of gods” Nathan takes a liking to that and later on refers to himself as God.
Some people might consider this to be ignorant but I still think that, in spite of all that, Nathan didn’t deserve to die in the end. In my opinion, he deserved to get praised for what he accomplished and be able to watch his creations flourish.


caleb_stillCALEB
“Did you program her to flirt with me?”

Caleb’s enthusiasm about Nathan’s project is somewhat charming and his eagerness is definitely something to be admired. However, If I’m totally honest, I found Caleb to be quite corny and annoying at times. At the start of the film I said to myself “I bet he is going to end up falling for her” – and he sure did. Caleb, being a good person who is undeniably kind is exactly what Nathan needed to prove that Ava can deceive someone into trusting her. I thought that Caleb falling in love with what is ultimately a robot, was quite…well, pitiful however it was necessary to prove Nathan’s theory. It proves how well Ava was able to manipulate Caleb into letting her out, adopting emotions which are very close to that of a human. Towards the end of the film, as Ava is escaping the facility, she takes one last glance at Caleb (whom she locked in a room) which might suggest that she might have developed real feelings towards Caleb. However, it is unclear.


05MACHINA2-blog427

AVA
“Why is it up to anyone?”

When Ava is told that she might be deactivated if she fails the test and that it is not up to Caleb to stop it, she answers with the above quote. It is at this point were I too was fooled into thinking that Ava was showing true human emotion by saying such a sentence which could imply multiple feelings such as fear, anger and sorrow. The main question about Ava is whether she is a true Artificial Intelligence. The way she is able to manipulate Caleb in such an efficient way proves to me that she is. However, it is only towards the end when she actually passes the Turing test. As she transcends and integrates herself into human society, she is only able to do so because of her physical resemblance to humans along with having a mind that is able to think like one. The scene when Ava reaches the helicopter meant for Caleb can be seen as Ava’s first real Turing test which she successfully passes as she manages to manipulate the pilot to taking her to human civilization.


The Making of Ava

ExMachina_touch_rgb0
Ava’s appearance of half human half robot was brought to life under the supervision of Andrew Whitehurst. He explains how the reason for keeping the hands, feet and face because that was the main element needed for Ava to be expressive. The back of the head, neck, arms and legs are clearly full CGI as we can see straight through them and are made up of various machinery.

In the film, Nathan’s goal is that Ava mimics and behaves like real humans so Whitehurst made sure that her CGI materials didn’t feel too robotic. In order to do this, him and his team looked at the human anatomy and muscles and made a simplified robotic version of them. All muscles and bones were of mechanical quality but are derived from the human anatomy.

On set, actress Vikander, wore a grey wetsuit material costume covering almost her whole body excluding the areas mentioned above. Specific places were then replaced on a section of the actress’s body whilst the rest remained the same. Motion tracking was not possible during filming since the set was an enclosed glass box which meant that they would have to do it multiple times because of the different reflections from lens and mirror distortion. For each take a clean plate was acquired followed by extensive body tracking.

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