An all star cast lead this sci-fi mind swapping story which has interesting concepts but ultimately, leaves everyone disappointed…
“Transcendence” is the first film directed by Wally Psfister (Cinematographer of “Inception” and “The Dark Knight Rises”). The film stars Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany and Morgan Freeman. When Will Caster (Johnny Depp) gets radiation poisoning, he’s sentenced to have around only a month left to live – if he’s lucky. He and his wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and friend Max (Paul Bettany) embark on the challenge of moving Will’s consciousness into a computer so that he can live on eternally as an artificial intelligence. After the initial excitement that it’s worked, of course, it goes wrong and he begins to threaten the world in his computer-form dominance.
The plot’s good enough. It has interesting concepts and an on-par script that it keeps you going with allegories and questions about the advancement of technology and whether it’s right to trust a higher force. It may parallel with the recent release of “Her,” but it’s more about the problems an artificial intelligence creates when it begins to crave more power.
The plot is a little slow in places. The trailer misleads the audience about its pace, because it’s only at the end that the action begins. It lacked an emotional substance to allow any rooting or emotional responses to the character’s journeys or development. Evelyn did begin to question whether the artificial intelligence version of her husband was actually the same man, but it’s only revealed at the end, when she decides she’s got to destroy him and has a hissy fit over him reading her serotonin levels (not that I blame her, I wouldn’t like to be read like that either).
Likewise, with Paul Bettany’s character. He is conflicted that his friend has died and that he should attempt to help and fix the misdoings it created on the world, but he’s not really developed any more than that, and he would have been more interesting had there been more emotional core to his storyline. Instead, he was put with the other supporting character who also didn’t have much more purpose than shooting guns or kidnapping Evelyn at the appropriate moment. Unlike other films I’ve reviewed, the action didn’t delay the characters from progressing, nor did it make it into a huge blockbuster. This time, it was the writing that didn’t allow the characters to develop as much as they could have done.
Although the actors are each brilliant in their own right, I can’t help but feel disappointed with them. The chemistry between Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall appeared conflicted. I don’t doubt that they got on with each other, but it took until the end for me to believe that they were really playing a man and wife. Likewise, with the friendships, the chemistry and banter that could have been evident was only really portrayed through the amount of on screen hugs there was whenever they entered or left a room. Yes, this would have happened in real life, but other than that, there was nothing else shown to make it believable that they had known each other for years and cared about the other’s safety.
The visuals were striking enough to perceive a style from the first time director Wally Pfister. They worked well together to bring an entertaining film of visuals to the screen. The swoops and swirls of what it might be like to be inside a computer was particularly colourful to watch, as was the inside of the data bank that Will and Evelyn create in the run down town. The set obviously adhered to conventions of science fiction with shots of long, white washed corridors filled with technology, but with Will’s face flickering around on different television screens set around every few meters, visually it appeared to be more interesting than other aspects of the film.
“Transcendence” is an interesting film in concept and it does provide good entertainment, if you don’t mind watching something that brings up great moral questions. It’s a shame that the story and acting let it down. It could have been a much better film with a better script and emotionally impacting storyline.
What did you think of “Transcendence?” Upload your thoughts in the comments below.-By Lucy Walsh