Transcendence – 2/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

TranscendenceTranscendence – 2/5 – Thinking movies are meant to be more than a quick splash or bang on the big screen.  When it comes to movies that involve thought provoking stories, you are supposed to experience a deeper attachment to the characters, as well as appreciate the overall viewing experience.  Where a film with big themes can go wrong is if they try to mask all within simplicity, hoping those themes can hold the lacking experience.  What happens for a film like Transcendence is that it is one that’s billed with a lot of great themes, but falls flat because of thin storytelling.  Overall, this film is a disappointment.

Premise: As the world changes, Dr. Will Caster continues to work towards his goal of creating a world where machines could transcend humans.  Through circumstance; Caster begins the rise into an omnipresence force.  When all comes to head, he must decided what is real, and what is better for the world.

In this film, you have some big names.  In the main lead of the researchers you have:

Johnny Depp as Will Caster

Rebecca Hall as Evelyn Caster

Paul Bettany as Max Waters

These three are the high points of the film.  These three give very great performances within the frame they are defined in (scientist/researchers), but also helps create deeper perspectives when it comes to the themes of artificial intelligence.  All three have different ideas on the rights and wrongs of creating an AI.  When the film gets into its main thoroughfare; those ideas cause a clash of human interaction per say, creating something that is emotional but connectable.  Depp steps away from his typical ‘cartoonish’ shtick to give us a ‘real’ humanistic character, while Hall and Bettany compliment him with their own unique but relative characters.  When it comes to the rest of the cast, there are some known names.  You have:

Morgan Freeman as Joseph Tagger

Cillian Murphy as Agent Buchanan

Kate Mara as Bree

Even though they are known names, they don’t do much to add any depth or flavor. They play pretty standard characters for this kind of film, adding enough tact to present a ‘person’ on screen.  This goes for the rest of the supporting cast, as they are just generic plot devices in the film.

The film’s direction within the overall plot is pretty linear.  Where the film goes wrong is how big of a contrast the two halves of the film are.  For the first half, the direction follows a strict form of linearity.  This strict focus helps provide a template to display the themes/ideas about artificial intelligence.  This promise is well met because there is a balance between the direction and story.  Where the contrast happens is in the second half, where there’s a combination of genres that dilutes the direction and story.  In the beginning, we are introduced to the idea of ‘Transcendence’, which is what researcher Will Caster (Depp) is building towards.  You see he has a positive outlook on this ideal, and wants to bring it to the world.  Along with him, you get introduced to his fellow companion’s perspective of his idea, and what they both support.  After this quick introduction, we are then thrust quickly into the film when a terrorist group ‘subsequently’ attacks Caster’s base of operation as well as him.  Here, he is forced to decide whether to use his mind for his experiment or die from the effects of the attack.  As you watch this unfold, the themes are paralleling in an overhead manner, as all of it is introduced through some deep character interactions and thought provoking exposition.  The film sheds light on the idea of AI, as well as the pros and cons of the use of it, especially when the AI gives the impression of someone you love.  There is a lot of battling of the heart vs. mind, as well as the flaws within both technology and being human.  As the film moves along slowly, we then watch as Will Caster’s mind is cast into the heart of the AI, and we start to see the signs of a darker, omnipotent force to be had.  You see the rippling of what this can have on the world.  With the linearity and paralleling themes, the film is bubbling towards a great viewing experience.  This promising thought all changes when Evelyn takes Will to a desert town to build upon their ideas of ‘Transcendence’.  Here, the film takes a drastic dive, as the film goes down the road of typical action scenes, common thriller elements and convenient plot devices.  There are things you expect films to do to help move it along, but when a film compromises its characters, themes and overall story just to get through the final two acts, it becomes a lethargic mess.  The film begins to show some drastic flaws into the whole ‘godlike’ AI, as well as the motives of both the terrorist groups to Will Caster’s AI domination.  What also happens is that the film begins to feel hallow, as the ideas fall to the wayside for ‘over-the-top’ sequences to thrill us with typical ‘flash and bang’ scenarios. Once the film get’s into its climax, it completes its nose dive, challenging common sense to the point that the audience will just feel like the film is an oxymoron of storytelling.  The film’s lacks a real ending, bringing no closure to the ideals introduce.  What we get is an underwhelming dialogue of a pseudo happily ever after.

The visuals of the film are a contrast of sorts.  You have a very ‘down the earth’ approach with the way the world is depicted.  This is shown through the common world as well as the characters, and how the interactions are grounded for some kind of commonplace within the story.  The contrast happens with all the computerized equipment and other stuff, where is provides a good compliment to the happenings in this different kind of world.  The creation of some of the AI elements is intriguing, but is left hallow because of the direction of the film. The score of the film is pretty much not worth noting.  The music has no effect on the overall entertainment value of the film.

Overall, Transcendence is a film with a lot of promise, but falls flat because of so many other things.  You have some good main characters to follow, but nothing much else then that.  If you a fan of Depp, I’d say check this out as a matinee.  This film is not really worth watching if you’re not a fan of Depp.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *