Saturday, 3 May 2014

'Transcendence' Film Review

Dr Will Caster (Johnny Depp), an A.I. scientist is shot by an anti AI group, RIFT, at a conference. Induced with radioactive poisoning, Will's only got weeks to live. With the help of his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and friend Max (Paul Bettany), Will's consciousness and memories are uploaded to a computer in an effort to preserve him and his life's work.

As the computer goes live, A.I. Will immediately demands for more power, raising questions. Is it really Will? Is he going to be threat?

The pace was moderate and started picking up once Will's consciousness got uploaded to the network, but the 'chase' sequence was short lived and the movie returned to a sluggish build up mode. Never does the movie truly escalate in a satisfying way. Even the finale sequence was slightly jarred and truncated in a confused manner.

Although it contains many brilliant themes such as artificial intelligence, dependence on technology and consciousness, it tries to do too many things that it does none of them well. Dipping into the whole plethora of genres, this potentially epic sci-fi thriller at times entered into realms of romantic melodrama. 

That said, there were moments of inquisitive thought and depth, with important questions raised which does allow a conversation (if not a debate) to happen after the movie, which is now increasingly rare. What makes us human? Could our identity and life really be preserved by technology? 

Not only was the film a patchwork of genres and themes, the cinematography was also indecisive. Whilst there were some truly beautiful moments of light, colour, water and life; the action sequences, dark opening and sci fi effects did not come together coherently. 

Johnny Depp- Dr Will Caster
Rebecca Hall- Evelyn Caster
Paul Bettany- Max Waters
Morgan Freeman- Joseph Tagger
Cillian Murphy- Agent Buchanan
Kate Mara- Bree

The cast is huge, led by Johnny Depp, who's real screen time is limited to about a third of the movie, the rest being his voice. The real lead is Rebecca Hall, whose character never quite reaches the point of being morally tormented by her decisions.

Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy do not really get significant characters and feel placed for pulling power. Rising star Kate Mara was likeable but could have a stronger, more intense character to really boost her as the next big thing.

'Transcendence' had a real potential to be an intensely deep sci-fi thriller, with engaging, thoughtful and current themes of technology, humanness and consciousness. Unfortunately, the ambition of the film was not met by execution and the result was a patchwork of ideas and images that are not coherent. 

Even with an ultimate cast led by Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall and Morgan Freeman, the support cast is not given much room to shine and seems wasted. Cillian Murphy has no significance in the movie- his character may as well be played by a pedestrian.

If this interests you, check out 'The East' instead.

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