YMMV: Ex Machina


The Comic

  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: This one issue in which Mitchell is haunted by the ghost of some slave who is possibly an ancestor of Mitchell's Vice Mayor David. The hauntings stop in the same issue they started, when Mitchell finds the slave's grave, marked with an odd symbol, and gives the body a proper reburial. This incident is never again referred to and the possible connection between the slave's ghost and David is never further explained.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: The second story arc involves Mitchell marrying a gay couple in City Hall, despite same-sex marriage not being legal in New York in 2004, when that issue was written. In 2011, New York actually did become the seventh US state to legalize same-sex marriage.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Hundred's alter ego is not "Ex Machina"; the name is a play on his powers.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Suzanne kills Mitchell's mother and says "I'm doing... I'm doing the right thing."
    • Kremlin has incriminating evidence against Mitchell, and a gun in his hand. After pointing the gun at his own head and threatening he can pull the trigger faster than Mitchell can finish saying "Jam", Mitchell finds out he hasn't told anyone about the evidence. Instead of saying "jam", he says "Bang". With Kremlin dead, Mitchell says "What have I done to you Kremlin?" and cries.

The Film

  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Nathan: It's hard to tell whether we're seeing the 'real' Nathan or the predatory, misogynistic, and threatening bad guy he's deliberately presenting himself as in order to get the reaction he wants out of Caleb. How bad he looks also has to do with what you think about his robots. If you ask yourself What Measure Is a Non-Human? and decide that he's technically just working with advanced programs, then it's hard to accuse him of more than being a person of poor character who indulges in sick but ultimately victimless fantasies. If you think that his creations are really sentient, then he looks like a serial killer of the worst kind.
    • Ava: Is Ava really capable of human consciousness, emotion, and moral judgement? Or is it a product of her hyper competence as a robot? If so, then was her reaction understandable given the abuse and manipulation she had suffered or unforgivable because she betrayed Caleb after he freed her? If not, then is she even really responsible for her actions since it was her creator's fault she turned out that way? Did she betray Caleb because she doesn't care about him, or did she come to actively not like him during their sessions?
    • Kyoko: Her actions are consistent with her being just a non-sentient mechanical butler without volition that could follow instructions, which may be why Nathan felt safe letting her have the run of the compound while carefully keeping more advanced models in a locked room. Ava's whispering to Kyoko could have been giving her orders about using the knife (after which Kyoko just stood there as if awaiting further instructions until Nathan struck her down), and Kyoko's reveal to Caleb was implied to be something Nathan had instructed her to do to mess with Caleb. However, there are several moments that suggest she feels genuine emotion. After Nathan shouts at her for spilling the wine, there is a shot of her in the corridor looking extremely upset. And after she stabs him, she caresses his face as a deliberate callback to the way she did in the scene where they had sex—the same way Ava threw Caleb's words back at him. Whether she has any measure of awareness or not is up to the viewer.
    • Caleb: Although Caleb is the nicest of the four and seems to be a genuinely good person, how much of his wanting to help Ava was based out of genuine empathy and how much of it was based on him desiring to enact his pornographic fantasies - Ava's face having been designed off of Caleb's preferences? What really does Caleb watch and how does it inform how he thinks of women?
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The bizarre, synchronized dance scene with Kyoko and Nathan. Nathan is shown to be a somewhat eccentric billionaire, but that was over the top even for him. It had no bearing on the plot, and was never mentioned again. Unless you see it as subtle foreshadowing that Kyoko is a robot.
  • Genius Bonus: Many, many points to boot - from the discussion of Jackson Pollock's automatic painting, to Ava's language acquisition functions to Nathan's BlueBook software being named after Wittgenstein's book on language games, to the names of the characters and the labels on the alcohol bottles. There's no doubt that the creators really did their work here.
  • Squick: The scene where Caleb tests himself to make sure he isn't one of Nathan's androids by cutting deeply into his arm with a razor blade and squeezing quite a bit of blood out. Satisfied, he smears his blood across his bathroom mirror before striking the glass.
  • Uncanny Valley: According to the film-makers, Ava was specifically designed to invoke and play with this. Large parts of her body are transparent and contain visible electronics, while wherever she wears skin she looks lifelike yet impossibly perfect. Her movement is not like a stereotypical robot's with jerky movements and mechanical noises, but instead very smooth and accompanied by soft, hard-to-pinpoint sounds. Alicia Vikander, having been a ballet dancer, manages to make her graceful walk and other movements look almost human but with something inexplicably off. The whole concept of her character is to find out whether someone knowing she is a machine will be able to overcome or even skip the discomfort/revulsion caused by the uncanny valley, and instead find her human and sympathetic.