Ex Machina follows 24-year-old Caleb, a geeky coder played by Domhnall Gleeson, who’s working for a fictional software company called Bluebook (think the strength of Google and Facebook combined). He wins a company-wide competition to spend a week at the luxury retreat of his CEO (played by Oscar Isaac).
Flown in by helicopter to a land that looks like New Zealand, Iceland and Jurassic Park combined (it’s actually Norway), he finds out he’s got a job to do while he’s there. He gets to interview an attractive artificial intelligent robot named Ava, played by Alicia Vikander.
Ex Machina writer and director Alex Garland reveals that one of the hardest parts of the movie was creating a house for one of the wealthiest men in the world. “It’s a tricky locations and production design problem,” explains Garland. “You’re making a low-budget film, but you’ve got to have a house for the richest guy in the world. We knew that if we had a spectacular landscape and put a guy inside it, the landscape would provide a lot of the power of the guy.”
Producer Andrew Macdonald was blown away by Norway’s scenery. “We soon settled on Norway, it’s incredible with these vertical hills, these waterfalls everywhere, and the deep fjord sea locks,” he says. Scenes were shot at the stunning Juvet Landscape Hotel. “The feel of the place is just extraordinary,” he says.
“The notion of somebody owning this, I think sums the guy up…” explains Domhnall Gleeson. “Everything we’re walking on belongs to nobody except for him. I think that is the kind of guy he is.”
The stunning panoramas in the movie highlight the freedom of Caleb and his boss Nathan, and the limited space Ava has inside a room. “We went away from cold blue light sci-fi and hard light plastics, towards a warmer sci-fi,” explains Garland.
Ex Machina is fuelled by philosophical debate and questions about what it is to be human, and see the Bluebook boss reveal his demons, while his tech whiz kid gets emotionally attached to his creation.
Ex Machina is released in UK cinemas today, watch the trailer below: