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Review: 'Ex Machina' is its bloody best in 4K

Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 4:34 PM Central
Last updated Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 4:38 PM Central

by John Couture

Remember way back to 2015 when Ex Machina was simply a way to get a preview of The Force Awakens by way of stars Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac. As it turns out General Hux and Poe didn't share a lick of screen time in The Force Awakens and Ex Machina was an insanely brilliant piece of science fiction.

We have gushed over A24 films in the past and I won't rehash our love for them, but there's a reason that we enjoy their films. Ex Machina isn't just your typical artificial intelligence film, no it has an edge that we have come to expect from A24 films. That edge is the precisely the thing that sets Ex Machina from other artificial intelligence films.

What seems like a simple Turing test experiment to see if the latest robotic innovation has truly achieved artificial intelligence quickly devolves into a study on the composition of humanity. What does it mean to be human and what happens when our own humanity is used against us as a weapon by our own creation.

This isn't new philosophical or moral ground that the film is treading upon, no these themes arise in literature throughout the ages, perhaps most famously in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Interestingly, the parallels between Frankenstein and Ex Machina don't end with philosophy, but I'll leave it there in case you haven't seen Ex Machina yet.

Of course, if you haven't what are you waiting for?

Oh, perhaps you were waiting for the 4K UHD Blu-ray version. I don't blame you, the film looks amazing on 4K. I always thought that the colors were a bit bleached out in the regular blu-ray version and I just thought that was a deliberate choice by director Alex Garland, but it turns out that it wasn't. The ultrasharp high definition really adds dimension to the cramped spaces that make up the majority of the film. Their isolation is just magnified that much more thanks to the better resolution and High Dynamic Range of color.

While the 4K UHD does not have Dolby Atmos audio, the DTS:X is a newer standard and delivers unmatched audio that really shines in Ex Machina. Like any good suspenseful film, the ambient sound and soundtrack can elicit just as much emotion as any visual image and the mix here is superb and matches the visual presentation spectacularly.

Ultimately, the real star of the film and the 4K UHD Blu-ray version of it is star Alicia Vikander. The young Swedish star has become something of a household name in the intervening years, but it was a foundation of acting performances such as the one in Ex Machina that earned her the acclaim and aplomb that she deserves.

She truly is the centerpiece of the film in more ways than one and her performance is even more striking in the best presentation possible in the 4K UHD Blu-ray version. Again, there are no additional bonus features with this new version, so it's hard to justify the upgrade, but if you're a fan of the film, you'll want to make sure that you own the best possible version. It's definitely worth the investment.