Opening with an environment of modern architecture, mod cons and technology in contrast to natures wonderfully filmed mountains and forests Ex Machina is a crisp looking film. Mirroring much of The Machine's (2013) elements (turing test, similar score, robot conspiracy even the same main characters name) it's a much different delivered film. Ex Machina is more grounded and a less action orientated Frankenstein tale but like the great low budget aforementioned and the recent Automata (2014) it tackles the relationship between humans and machine.
There's a small ensemble cast with good supporting actors, lead Oscar Isaac is excellent as the dislikable intelligent alcohol fuelled scientist Nathan, Domhnall Gleeson's Caleb, a student questioning his love for a robot is interesting but the star here is Alicia Vikander as Ava the world's first artificial intelligent beautiful female robot.
Writer/director Alex Garland's offering is intriguing, with its atmosphere enhanced by a fitting futuristic pulse percussion score by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow which complements its modest, near enough photo real effects. With the facility nestled in the wilderness, a fantastic picturesque location, there's impressive designed rooms, with great lighting and colour shemes to match.
With no outside contact permitted it's claustrophobic at times as Caleb builds his relationship with Ava and Nathan in the compact mirrored rooms and narrow frosted glass corridors of the mini facility. It's thought provoking, with tension and some surreal moments. In the closing it becomes a cat and mouse mind game duel with a nice fulfilling twist.
Ex Machina has great production values, it's finely filmed, nicely paced and while not as punchy, conventional or mainstream satisfying as The Machine it has a subtler more stylised polished take on the same theme.