One of the words that comes to mind with Ex Machina is atmosphere. This film is dripping and oozing with atmosphere that, in my opinion, has a Kubrickian feel to it, and resembles M. Night Shyamalan's earlier, better works. The sound, ambient soundtrack along with the lighting and cinematography filter creates a sense of isolation and eerie calmness that is simultaneously relaxing and serene. I admired the world building.
Oscar Isaac probably gives my favorite performance here. You can't help but sence that there's definitely something off, weird even, about his character, which pretty much helps the twist in the end floor you even more when the last character you'd think is the villain, is ultimately the villain, outsmarting the protagonist AND the originally presumed antagonist. That probably made more sense in my head. Domhnall Gleeson is simply fine as Caleb, nothing blow away in his performance or character. Alicia Vikander is a convincing A.I., and the design and execution of her character in the plot is what counts the most.
The story takes place in the not too distant yet not too soon future, but it presents themes about human nature that are relevant for today, and quite contemporary. Can Artificial Intelligence use everything programmed into it against the species that programmed it? That question crossed my mind. Can A.I. be corrupted or even become too self aware to the point of using its power as a tool of manipulation? These are questions that have been asked for a long time regarding the concern of the invention of A.I., so they're really nothing new, but they're executed here in detail and with a touch of behavioral psychology behind them.
The dance sequence with Kyoko was goofy but weirdly strange in its own right, yet ultimately unnecessary in my opinion and wouldn't have effected the flow of the film had it been cut out, and the reveal that Kyoko is an A.I. could be seen a mile away. These are fairly minor nitpicks though.
Overall, Ex Machina is engaging, intriguing, and almost fascinating in its depiction of Artificial Intelligence, playing on our fear of being outsmarted by our own inventions. If the final act leaves you feeling fooled and outsmarted, then the film has done its job.