The Uncanny Valley of Ava: Further Examination of Ex Machina

By  · Published on May 13th, 2015

Ex Machina isn’t just another sleek sci-fi film, it’s a wonderful rumination about our relationship with technology. In creating its artificial intelligence-driven character Ava, Alex Garland’s film creates a relationship between the audience and its robot in a way that other films in the genre have not. By the end, it’s easy to see us on Ava’s side.

In this video from our partners at VICE, part of their Creators Project channel, that relationship is explored in-depth with writer/director Alex Garland as well as stars Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander.

One of the most fascinating elements of the video involves Garland’s talk about Vikander’s movements. A trained ballerina, Vikander has the ability to make what Garland refers to as “the perfect version of human movements,” creating a living version of the uncanny valley. It’s one of the film’s most haunting effects, the fact that we know Ava is a robot. She moves with precision, we can see her mechanical frame and yet it’s easy to confuse her with a real person. This is the version of A.I. that terrifies me most: a version that we like, so much that it might make us feel at ease.

Ex Machina is currently in wide release. If you haven’t given it a shot yet, you should do so as soon as possible. It is currently the best movie I’ve seen in 2015.

Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the upcoming One Perfect Shot TV show (HBO Max, 2021) and the co-host of The Storm: A LOST Rewatch podcast. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)