Take the "Ex Machina" quiz.

By: Olivia Cantor
Image: tmdb

About This Quiz

"Ex Machina" is one of the newer sci-fi films. It has been considered a new classic for the genre. With its philosophical approach, combined with suspenseful elements, it raises questions on what the role of artificial intelligence may be in our society, and whether we should use it at all. ITo learn more about the movie and artificial intelligence, take the "Ex Machina" quiz!

In the beginning, what did Caleb win that left him dumbstruck?

Caleb is introduced in the opening scenes as a normal IT guy, who gets an e-mail and is congratulated by the entire office.

When we first see Nathan, what is he doing?

It's an insight into Nathan's character that he's exercising by using a punching bag. His need to let things out in a low-key, violent manner is a clue to the dark side of his personality.

Which actor played the role of Nathan?

Oscar Isaac won rave reviews for his role as Nathan. Among other things, he is also known for playing pilot Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Why was Nathan so busy exercising in the morning, rather than just having coffee?

Nathan tells Caleb thathe does some really heavy drinking at times, and he cures the hangover by sweating it out. This comes back to bite him later in the movie.

According to Nathan, why does the door passkey open only some of the rooms in the house?

Initially, Nathan says its for privacy. However, it soon becomes obvious that it's about a lot more than that. It's not just about being in "someone else's house."

After showing Caleb his room, what big secret does Nathan share?

Even though some areas of it are decorated like a normal house, Nathan reveals that it's a special research facility. And he wants to share the research information with Caleb.

After Caleb has second thoughts about the non-disclosure contract he has to sign, how does Nathan get him to sign it?

What Nathan does is a classic trick for getting people to do anything: keep their curiosity and egos interested.

So, what is the big secret in that research facility or house?

The house is actually a research facility designed to keep and test Ava, an advanced robot and artificial intelligence. Supposedly, it keeps Ava in a high-tech cage to prevent it from wandering off and falling into the wrong hands.

Who played the role of Ava?

Alicia Vikander is an Oscar-winning Swedish actress. She is playing the role of Lara Croft in the reboot of the Tomb Raider movie series which is based on a successful video game.

Given the nature of the project, why does Nathan need Caleb there?

Lured under the pretense of a "vacation with the boss," Caleb's real job is to see if Ava is really a working artificial intelligence. It must be noted, though, that intelligence and self-awareness are still being explored in the real world.

What is the first, small disturbing sign that something is not exactly right with Ava?

It's practically given no importance, but if you think about it, cracked glass in the observation booth is a dead giveaway that things are less than "peaceful." Even though Ava may look fragile, it doesn’t mean she's helpless.

When we're introduced to Ava, what makes her appearance disturbing?

The most important visual components for interacting with people are the face and hands. Ava has those, and even if she looks mostly robotic, there is a very human aspect to her.

What ominous thing happens after Ava is first introduced?

Caleb gets a minor anxiety attack when he is locked in his own room after a power outage. The fact that he's sealed into a box is claustrophobic, for sure.

It's important to the movie: What is the Uncanny Valley?

The Uncanny Valley concept is all about how humans can somehow tell that a human-like robot isn't human. It's about little "disconnections" in their physical actions or their psychological reactions. The movie Blade Runner also explores this in another manner.

What is the term "through the looking glass" all about?

The quote is taken from "Alice in Wonderland." The way Caleb uses it, it's about diving headlong into a new world. That's how he sees Ava -- something that is from a new world, or can usher it in.

Ex Machina is unusual among science fiction films because of how human-like its robots are. In this case, how creepy was it?

It's a disturbing part of Ex Machina's theme. Not only does Ava sound and act human, but once all the robotic areas are covered up, she looks like a human. In fact, even when you can see her robotic parts, her basic shape is still perfectly human.

Caleb is curious about how Ava uses language. Why?

Caleb is interested in the way that Ava responds, since she seems to reply on the fly, not with pre-set responses.

While they are drinking, Nathan asks an important question. What was it?

Nathan's question, on the surface, can be interpreted as being about how well Ava is programmed or constructed. However, as the film goes on, we find out that it's much more than him asking if Ava is a good product.

What is the point of the Turing test that Caleb and Nathan discuss?

Created by Alan Turing in 1950, the Turing test tries to see if a machine can interact with a human to the point where the human can’t tell if it is a machine or not. Strictly speaking, Ex Machina did not have a traditional Turing test in it, although you can argue that Ava's success in manipulating Caleb might count.

The feeling of being trapped is heightened for Caleb when he finds out this piece of information. What is it?

We take for granted that friends and family are just a phone call away. However, in this case, even the ability to use the phone isn't "given" to Caleb. As usual, Nathan tries to make it sound logical, but it starts to get really disturbing.

Who is Kyoko?

At first, she presents herself as a servant, but later on, in conversation, it's obvious that there are “benefits” to her being there. This may be considered a call-out to the "Asian bride" trope.

Why are power outages happening?

Ava apparently found a way to trigger power outages. It's one way for her to talk to Caleb without Nathan hearing anything.

What is the final nail in the suspicion coffin for Caleb?

Once Caleb finds out that he is also being watched, he knows that there's much more to it than just giving a Turing test to Ava. And he wonders what exactly is his role in it.

Why was Caleb really chosen for this?

As it turns out, the fact that Caleb is socially awkward and may have interaction issues is the big point for his selection, not that he is a good programmer or an IT genius. It's to see how well Ava can fool him.

Why is Ava's name symbolic?

Ava is another version of "Eve." It means "living one," and in some languages, can also mean "bird," or "voice." Given how Ava is an artificial intelligence that can manipulate people, the name may have been a clue to her skills.

What does the title Ex Machina mean?

The real term is "Deus Ex Machina" or "God from the Machine." In ancient theater, it was about how a "god" or all-knowing character would come in and explain things or provide solutions. It was as if a god would come out from the story's machine to make sure it had the right ending.

Why is Caleb's statement that a working artificial intelligence will be for "the history of gods" so symbolic?

Caleb's statement is a subtle reference to Mary Shelley's work, "The Modern Prometheus," better known in pop culture as the story of Frankenstein's Monster. Since we know how that ends, it's not looking good for Caleb or Nathan.

Which famous director was supposedly an influence for the character of Nathan?

Director Stanley Kubrick was supposedly an acting peg for Oscar Isaac, given the man's mix of genius and dark personality traits. It also helps that he's the director of "2001: A Space Odyssey," a movie that features a murderous artificial intelligence.

When Nathan uses the term "Promethean," to what mythological person does it refer?

Nathan was probably thinking of Prometheus, the man who stole fire from the heavens, and taught people how to use it. Prometheus was punished by having a large flying beast eat his liver every morning. Nathan, being a drunkard, probably knows the feeling all too well.

Blink and you'll miss it: One of Nathan's "former girls" is blonde and has no limbs. To what is this a possible reference?

In the original "Ghost in the Shell" movie, the physical body in which they trapped the artificial intelligence, the Puppet Master, looks very much like the limbless blonde-haired robot in one of the closets. This can also be a symbol for how manipulative Ava is, as the Puppet Master was obviously an artificial intelligence that specialized in manipulation.

If you're a computer geek, why is Ava's conversation opener so familiar?

Early chat bots, programs that mimic a person's conversation, used similar introduction lines to engage the user immediately. It's an example of the Uncanny Valley, as the more they try to engage, the more it sounds "off."

It's expected that the movie has a lot of philosophy, but the ending is about the "allegory of the cave." What is it about?

The "Allegory of the cave" is also known as "Plato's Cave," named after the famous philosopher who thought of the idea. It's about how we accept our reality, based on how we understand things. If we can’t accept something, then we go back to our comfortable "caves," until we get used to it. In the movie's ending, Ava has been able to get out of her caged life, while Caleb is now struggling both physically and mentally to make sense of what happened.

If you listen closely, why does the door lock tone sound familiar?

The tone they use for the door locks is the Tejat sound, which is for any device that uses the Android operating system. It looks like Nathan isn’t a Windows kind of guy.

Even the color design for the movie is a nod to the theme. Why are the predominant colors red, green, and blue?

The basic red, green, and blue color designs for the sets are meant to be a reference to the RGB (red, green, blue) color system that most computers use for displays. It also gives the sets a more artificial, surreal look.

Why do some people think that Nathan has a Bluebeard thing going on?

The Bluebeard character is taken from an old French story about a rich and violent man who, after killing his wives, would put their corpses in a locked room before he went out to find another wife. He would warn his new wife not to open the locked room in the house. But well, curiosity got the better of her. Thankfully, Caleb isn’t married to Nathan, but the story mechanics are still close.

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