Ex Machina – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ex Machina - International Poster #1

Ex Machina hits stores on June 6th.


Alex Garland has shown us numerous times that he is one of the best sci-fi writers working today. Although it’s not as thrilling as his previous projects, Ex Machina works best as an intellectual character study. The film is full of complex ideas but Garland never dumbs it down for its audience. There isn’t a lot of expositional dialogue so try to keep up and allow yourself reflect on these ideas. The downside is that there’s a lot of focus on the film’s intellectual elements. Thus, the film fails in creating any emotional ties to these characters. Be that as it may, Ex Machina is essentially a film that generates a lot of questions and debates. Especially since we, as a society, will have to ask these challenging questions in the not-too-distant future. It’s definitely a film that’s going to make you think instead of feel.

Not only is he a brilliant writer but Ex Machina shows that Alex Garland has a cinematic eye as well. From the breathtaking outdoor scenery to Nathan’s stylish facility, Rob Hardy’s cinematography is quite striking. Also, the subtle CGI usage lends some beauty to this cold technological world while still grounding itself in reality. It’s safe to say that Ex Machina is the most thought-provoking and visually impressive films as of late.

Without this stellar cast though, the film wouldn’t be the same. Domhnall Gleeson delivers an engaging and compassionate performance as Caleb. But despite his quality performance, he’s simply a vehicle to progress the story along. He’s often overshadowed by Oscar Isaac’s captivating performance. He embodies a man tortured by his own genius which is just fascinating to watch.

In any other film, Oscar Isaac would steal the show. Yet it’s Alicia Vikander that impresses the most here. Vikander’s layered performance requires a subtle touch to ensure that Ava is neither too human or too robotic. Her vulnerable portrayal keeps Ava within this fascinating middle ground. As a result, this forces audiences to face a wide array of emotions: awe, fear, and skepticism.

Overall, Ex Machina is a fascinating film bolstered by its wonderful cast. However, for the casual moviegoer, the film may move too slowly for them. But those who are ready to stimulate themselves intellectually are in for a treat. It’s truly a remarkable piece of science-fiction and a film that should be the subject of debates long after the film is over.

Movie Rating: 4/5 atoms

Video
Ex Machina - Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson

Ex Machina hits 4K Ultra HD with an HDR 2160p transfer and a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Truth be told, this film is a bit hard to review because of Alex Garland’s intentions for the film. That being said, the video presentation is a clear improvement over the old Blu-ray release—albeit not a wide margin. The HDR isn’t as effective here as it has been in other 4K Ultra HD releases. The black levels are deep and inky but it’s not the deep black that you’re used to in an HDR release. The HDR does improve on the whites, making them brighter and crisper.

The colors are hard to grasp as well because of the limited color palette but the format’s wide color gamut does improve the color somewhat. In general, the colors and skin tones are natural and lifelike but scenes that are full of color are rich and vivid. The details are super clear, notably in Ava’s robotic form. Overall, the video may be an improvement over the regular Blu-ray release but it lacks that “wow” factor found in other 4K Ultra HD releases.

Video Rating: 4/5 atoms

Audio
Ex Machina - Alicia Vikander

Ex Machina hits 4K Ultra HD with a DTS:X and DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track. The review will reflect Ex Machina‘s core DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track. Considering the type of film this is, don’t expect to hear a very aggressive mix. Yet this is one of those times where aggressiveness doesn’t mean it’s not a good audio presentation. The mix is full of atmospheric effects that pan envelope the entire sound stage. Furthermore, Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury’s score subtly comes through the sound stage. This creates such an enriching level of immersion without drawing attention away from what’s happening on-screen. The dialogue comes through nice and clear through the center channel. Since this is a dialogue heavy film, this isn’t a huge surprise. Overall, this is a unique aural experience that flawlessly complements a one-of-a-kind film.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Special Features
Ex Machina - Sonoya Mizuno and Oscar Isaac

Ex Machina‘s 4K Ultra HD disc doesn’t have any special features on it. However, the regular Blu-ray contains the following special features:

  • Through the Looking Glass: Making Ex Machina
  • SXSW Q&A with Cast and Crew
  • Behind the Scenes Vignettes
    • Making Ava
    • Nathan’s World
    • New Consciousness
    • Becoming Ava
    • Director
    • Cast
    • Meet Ava
    • God Complex
    • Music

The bulk of the special features come from the “Through the Looking Glass” featurette. It explores the film’s story development, cast and characters, production design, cinematography, costumes and make-up, and visual effects. Needless to say, this featurette is very informative. Another surprising bonus is the SXSW Q&A featurette. This fun Q&A session features Alex Garland, Oscar Isaac, cinematographer Rob Hardy, and composers Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury. They dig deep into what their intentions were for the film. Finally, give the behind-the-scenes vignettes a pass because they recycle interviews from the “Looking Glass” featurette.

Special Features Rating: 3.5/5 atoms


Overall, Ex Machina is an exceptional directing debut for Alex Garland. Together with his cast and crew, they created a kind of intelligent film that will generate discussions long after the film ends. Unfortunately, the video presentation lacks that pizzazz found in other 4K Ultra HD releases. Thankfully, the audio presentation makes up for it with its immersive audio mix. Although there aren’t a lot of special features on the Blu-ray, there are some gems to be found in there.

Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1518 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.