Ex Machina (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

Ex Machina (Blu-ray Review)There’s something about A24’s Ex Machina that brings warm thoughts to my human mind.  Maybe it’s because of their 2014 sleeper hit, Under the Skin, which I could not get enough of or maybe it’s because this one seeds psychosis within your head, in the way that only a great artificial intelligence film can.  Yes, it’s true ladies and gentlemen, the psychological yet stylish thriller Ex Machina will leave you visually, sonically and emotionally enthralled when you give it a spin in your 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player of choice.  It blew everyone away at SXSW in 2015 and now it’s time to be mind blown within the privacy of your own home in 4K.  I can personally guarantee these claims too.  This is my umpteenth go around with the flick, and while it’s not action packed like the theatrical trailer may have originally suggested, the film truly delivers by sucking you into one of the greatest human stories of artificial intelligence in our time, albeit in a slow burning fashion.  Ava (the new Lara Croft), the robot in question here, will make you believe and heck, might even make you fall for her.  It’s actually hard to decipher what’s the more raw experience here, the interaction between the humans or that with the A.I.  Read on you shall!

Ex Machina


Ex Machina was written and directed by Alex Garland (writer of 28 Days Later, Dredd).  This is his directorial debut.  It stars Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force AwakensUnbroken), Alicia Vikander (The Circle, A Royal Affair) and Golden Globe nominated actor Oscar Isaac (also Star Wars: Episode VII  – The Force Awakens, A Most Violent Year).  It was awesome to see Isaac and Gleeson in kind of reversed roles in The Force Awakens, but I digress.  Perhaps, maybe the real stars of this film are its composers, Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury.  Wow this score!  I digress again!

So Rotten Tomatoes still certifies Ex Machina as fresh and bills the movie as a story about a breathtaking android (referred to as A.I. in the scientific community and throughout this feature) whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated-and more deceptive-than man could have imagined.  But what does that mean?  How did we get here?  Relax folks!  This review has just started.  For all of you who have yet to see Ex Machina, let me catch y’all up to speed.  Follow me.

Although this is a story about a girl, like in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, we first begin with a tale about a boy.  The man of the hour here is a programmer named Caleb (Gleeson).  The movie wastes no time in setting things up.  Immediately upon hitting play on your 4K UHD Blu-ray player’s remote, you see Caleb winning a competition to spend a week at the mountain estate of his company’s genius CEO (Isaac).  After a very awkward meeting, not to mention a very complex one-page NDA Caleb needs to sign, he discovers he has been chosen to take part in a study of artificial intelligence (A.I.).  So after signing this NDA Caleb is basically sworn to secrecy and cut off from the outside world.  He has no phone and worst of all no Internet.  However, it’s here where Caleb will meet a girl that will forever change his life.  Whether this meeting is for the good or the bad is what this film’s all about.  I’m just kidding it’s really much deeper than that.  Caleb’s subject is none other than this A.I. we’ve been beating around the bush hinting about, the oddly seductive Ava (Vikander).  From here on out, no house rules or instructions can prepare Caleb for how his week is going to turn out.  It’s Suspense 101, folks.

The only thing I can warn folks about here is that if you’re not one who likes a thoughtful science fiction film mixed with a slow burn, then look elsewhere or Ex Machina could leave you disappointed.  In my opinion there was two great science fiction films released on Blu-ray in 2015.  No I am not talking about Jupiter Ascending (yuck!) or Tomorrowland (yawn), but instead Predestination and this one, Ex Machina.  It’s the journey this flick takes you on that will have you on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next.  It’s also the creep factor of Isaac’s character that will get you all unnerved, but that’s a separate topic all of it’s own.  He’s pure genius here.

So do you see the brilliance I am trying to shine light on here?  Ex Machina is very much a thinking man’s kind of movie (or women’s).  All others seeking immediate action gratification need not waste any time here.  It’s not a perfect one, but the tension here and inherent moral squabbles within will make you quickly forget about trying to nitpick any problems with the actual feature.

There are so many things to praise this movie for.  Like how about that minimal budget that was thrown at it?  Ha!  You can’t tell!  Maybe it’s my eyes, but this thing looks like a billion bucks.  It’s polished and crafted with intricacy.  However, here’s the real home run.  The film follows through on its initial concept and delivers a one-two uppercut to knock you on your arse in its shocking, riveting conclusion.  Just how smart is an A.I.?  Watch Ex Machina and find out just how seductive, manipulative and twisted one can be, not mention how gullible, trusting and foolish the human race really is.  It’s mad science gone so right here!

Ex Machina


Since there are so many sources for how they obtained the video Ex Machina is a tough one to grade visually on the 4K Ultra HD format.  Read on and I’ll tell you all about it down below.  Just an FYI though the following observations are based solely upon my viewing here of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version.  To read about its 1080p Blu-ray counterpart please refer to my original review of it here.  Now to all those keyboard ninjas out there who have nothing better to do than compare both my reviews for same grammar and call me lazy here’s my full disclosure.  Parts of the below critique are intermixed with my initial Blu-ray viewing of the film, and enhanced with this 4K Ultra HD presentation.  So there!  Honestly for me this is only a mild upgrade over the Blu-ray presentation.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: Since there were a variety of cameras employed to capture Ex Machina, including a GoPro, your results will vary in the clarity and detail categories.  Some shots are razor sharp like in outdoor environments, meat being sliced and even minute details in textures such as wood grains, sweater fuzz and the porous concrete walls that line Nathan’s research facility, but others can get a bit hazy, etc., depending upon where we’re at and of course what medium was used to acquire that footage.  However, don’t let me deter you either because there is fine detail abound to be marveled over here like the intricacy of what all makes up Ava, the rubbery skin of the androids and even the hairs in Nathan’s beard and the ones clearly missing on top of his head too. Ha ha.   In my opinion though, I kind of welcome the softness a bit here as it gives one an added pleasure to feel like they are watching a film, not a PBS HD documentary of a boy and his robot friend.   I guess what I am trying to say is the soft veneer of it all lends itself extremely well to feature’s delicate subject matter at hand. So all in all there’s a nice uptick in detail over it’s Blu-ray counterpart, but nothing I’d say you have to rush out and grab at full retail price right now.
  • Depth: The depth of field department is probably my favorite attribute here because it excels from the very beginning.  From the opening office scene and breathtaking views in the beginning when the helicopter takes off to walking along the river in the forest and the long, sprawling hallways and rooms within Nathan’s research facility everything looks vast and layered.  There’s nothing like the scenes where Caleb looks at Ava from behind the glass.  There’s obviously a depth perception at play there.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are above average through this presentation, but not the deepest and inkiest you expect to witness on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format.  However, I will say this that the HDR color grading greatly improves shadow details over the original Blu-ray release like in Ava’s dark chambers for example.  There are some moments where it’s deep and inky, but the natural lighting in this one at times near windows really skews the image.
  • Color Reproduction: The color is a hard one to grab here because as a reviewer you don’t want to knock the HD score just because of the filmmaker’s intention.  Let’s just agree to say the colors are very soft, natural and lifelike.  However, when called upon the bright Blu-ray colored lights that are scattered throughout Nathan’s research facility really pop in contrast and draw your eyes to them.  Lush vegetation colors are rich and vivacious looking too.  Over all I would say the wide color gamut here is really an improvement over the somewhat drab Blu-ray presentation.  The colors just seem richer and more natural from Caleb’s golden blonder hair to Revenant-like outdoor, beautiful scenery.  The where Ava is outside looking down at streaming water in the woods is gorgeously rendered.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones are lifelike, healthy and natural throughout, incredibly even on the androids too.  Haha.  Ava’s rose colored cheeks are still a crowd pleaser for me.  That android gal gots the look!
  • Noise/Artifacts: For me, other than a few moments of haze from the natural outdoor lighting, there was nothing really noticeable that would keep me from enjoying what I saw in this presentation.

Ex Machina


Interestingly enough, Ex Machina was the first Blu-ray to feature DTS:X immersive audio technology!  Now on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray it retains the same killer surround track as its Blu-ray predecessor originally reviewed here.  Therefore, I’m just enhancing some things down below in my critique of it all as I see it happen all over again in 4K.
  • Audio Format(s): English DTS:X Audio, DTS Headphone:X Audio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 5.1 DTS Digital Surround Audio
  • Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
  • Dynamics: Well where do we start here?  This one is all over the place the way it utilizes the brilliant score to change the moods/emotions of it all and increase the tension levels is simply a masterpiece, much like my mad praise for the score in another A24 beauty, Under The Skin.  So yeah, things get quite insane here as well as quite hypnotic in the slower bring it phases.  All I got to say is that final scene of tension where the elevator doors shut and then quiet is a favorite of mine.  The crescendo the score hits all around you (especially in the rears) is absolutely nuts and insane, in a very good way of course.  Even a simple punch to the mirror is direct and prioritized.  While mellow most of the time I still can’t say enough good things about this one.
  • Height: There are various highlights to talk about here in the height channel such as the helicopter flying overhead in the beginning, miscellaneous sound effects, the haunting and intriguing score, altering alarm when power cuts out in Nathan’s facility, light hint of thunder outside, waterfall cascading over rocks, disco music overspill and more.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channels serves to balance the score throughout.  It goes to sleep from time-to-time, but its there to do your bidding when needed and/or called upon.  The opening rumble did manage to wake my dogs up.   Tiny hints of thunder complement the soundscape while the bass elicited from disco boogie music let’s you know you’re still alive.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Here’s where the hypnotic score really reels you in and captivates you twirling all around you.  Sound effects and ambient noise also make themselves known, most notably with helicopters swirling overhead or as a result hearing the blades of grass rustling in the commotion.  It’s the little things like that happening all around you that really make this surround track a special one.  However, that one killer scene where Ava departs ways still to this day rivets and excites me thanks to how strong that crescendo gets in the rear speakers.  For audiophiles like us that’s what wet dreams are made of.
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  Spoken words are clear and intelligible, never too loud and never too soft.

Ex Machina


Sorry, but there’s nothing new here on either the 4K Ultra HD or the 1080p disc.  I thought the press release for this original said there was supposed to be a director’s commentary or something like that, but I guess not.  The Blu-ray disc of Ex Machina in this 4K Ultra HD set is where the extras reside.  They include an in-depth behind-the-scenes featurette, a Q&A with cast and crew from SXSW and eight miscellaneous vignettes.  In addition, this release also contains a voucher inside redeemable for the Digital HD UltraViolet version of the film.  While that does not sound like a lot and sadly there’s no director’s commentary (how cool would that have been?), there’s actually some meat in terms of length (over two hours of bonus features) to go with these potatoes down below.  Let’s take a closer look at things under the microscope.

  • Through the Looking Glass: Making Ex Machina (HD, 39:59) – This documentary, so to speak, is an in-depth behind-the-scenes featurette broken into “Sessions” (like the movie did with its titles) that examines the story development, the cast and characters, the production design, cinematography and location shooting in Norway, costumes and makeup and finally, visual effects along with a wrap-up.  So in other words, it’s quite an informative piece if I do say so myself.  I particularly love hearing the actors talk all paranoid about the possible NSA and spy stuff that could actually be real like others taking control of your cell phone, etc.
  • SXSW Q&A with Cast and Crew (HD, 1:00:57) – This panel interview was recorded n Austin, TX at SXSW on March 15, 2015.  The in-depth Q&A includes writer/director Alex Garland, star Oscar Isaac, director of photography Rob Hardy and composers Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury.  Considering I damn well live down here, I wish I could have been here for this!  Ha!  I digress yet again!
  • Behind-the-Scenes Vignettes (HD, 28:40) – There’s a play all feature or you can watch all of these vignettes separately, but quite honestly a lot of it is repeated information.  The 8 vignettes include the following titles: Making AvaNathan’s WorldNew ConsciousnessBecoming AvaDirectorCastMeet AvaGod Complex and Music (not the Madonna song).

Ex Machina


So wow!  What can I say about this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Ex Machina that I haven’t said already back in 2015?  The movie still rocks!  If it’s your first time, it will blow your mind!  The score will make sure of it!  Do you need more reasons?  Okay!  I can indulge.  Try this one on for size yet again.  Ex Machina was the first Blu-ray to feature DTS:X immersive audio technology!  DTS:X replicates and conveys the fluid movement of sound to create a richer soundscape than previously possible by moving sound to precisely where the mixer placed it.  Bam!  In your face!  How many films now on 4K can attest to being the first Blu-ray to present their film in DTS:X?  I can only think of one!  This one!  To top it all off, this Ex Machina 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set contains more than two hours of bonus features and it comes with a Digital HD redeemable file.  If you never owned this or seen it, then what are you waiting for?  Click on that order link down below and just buy it!  All others may want to wait a tad for a price drop.  I don’t know if the minor uptick in video warrants rushing out at full price to pick up.  If you’re a fan though, that’s a no-brainer.



Ex Machina

Releasing On

4K UHD Blu-ray 6/6!



Ex Machina 4K


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

1 Response to “Ex Machina (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)”

  1. ROXC!

    The audio in this is phenomenal!