Hollywood's latest A.I. thriller, "Ex Machina," promised to take viewers on a fascinating and thrilling philosophical, ethical, and human journey. The Turing test, man's domination over machine, artifically intelligent machines' potential and perhaps inevitable self-awareness and domination over man, and an eccentric Silicon Valley-like billionaire-type leading the helm... how could this not be a great film? More on that later, but to make all of this happen, director Alex Garland and VFX supervisor Andrew Whitehurst had to create a robot that would connect so well with audiences that we would treat it as any other human character.
Warning: While the behind-the-scenes video does not require a spoiler alert, reading on just might. I didn't give much away, but there is certainly more to the trailer that is discussed below. One thing you should know, however, is to be prepared. The film exhibits nowhere near the amount of action that you would imagine from the trailer. Instead, it's much more of a process of thought movie that constantly has you trying to figure out what will happen next. I'm a firm believer that it helps to have the appropriate expectations set for a film, so hopefully that will help.
The film sets up Nathan Bateman, a character built on the foundation of today's heroic, god-like, and idealized Silicon Valley tech geniuses (think Steve Jobs/Elon Musk meets Mr. Miyagi) who is on the verge of creating a truly aritificially intelligent humanoid robot. Bringing in a programmer, Caleb, from his search engine company, Bluebook, by way of a company-wide lottery, Nathan then proceeds to have Caleb perform a sort of Turing test to see if he can come away feeling as though the A.I. robot, Ava, has a consciousness.
Naturally, Nathan is no stranger to the idea that sexual tension/relation matters as he actively makes the choice to make give the robot a female sexual identity (yes, sexual organs and all). But to match the story, VFX specialists had to work incredibly hard to create what is arguably the most realistic humanoid robot on screen today. And they did it all without a green screen or motion capture suit. Instead, they opted for a custom made, skin-tight mesh suit. Some of this mesh suit is left in the final result for the aesthetic look of Ava's character.
Whatever people might say of the film itself (it wasn't a huge hit for me by any means, but then it wasn't exactly my cup of tea, either), all of the visuals throughout the entire film were absolutely stunning.
The Verge has more details, inluding a Q&A with VFX superivsor Andrew Whitehurst himself that is truly engaging.
For those that have seen the film, what were your thoughts?
[via The Verge]