Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Transcendence - Review

Will Caster (Johnny Depp), his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), and several other colleagues are in the process of creating a super-computer that is both self-aware and can help bring a new age of humanity by acting as a god. This dangerous thinking puts them in the crosshairs of an anti-tech terrorist cell called RIFT, led by Kate Mara, who sends an agent to shoot Caster with a isotope-laden bullet. To save his legacy for her own selfish reasons, Evelyn uploads his consciousness into the computer program, which will surely not produce a mainframe megalomaniac, once give access to the internet. TRANSCENDENCE is a tiresome endeavor, filled with a talented cast that all give deliberately sleepy performances; They all must have realized on the first day of shooting that this isn't a Christopher Nolan pic but is being directed by one of his note-copying buddies, Nolan's resident cinematographer Wally Pfister. To be very fair, Pfister easily knows how to design striking illustrations and delivers genuine terror during the film's uneasy moments, such as when Computer Caster uploads himself into real people. But he doesn't know how to operate with actors or liven up the dynamic of the world, instead staying the course on his sterile view of humanity and making up for his shortcomings by just flourishing the frames with LCDs exploding with imagery best served for a screensaver. Even if he could run a self-diagnostic and fix his own errors, Jack Paglen's script is total garbage. Its veins are flowing with 90's "Internet is Bad!" logic, trying to strike fear in all hearts and minds by name-dropping Y2K and showing us how computers will ruin small towns and turn everybody into a walking zombie. The best example of the film's dated material: Wired magazine is still relevant as a status signifier and is popular in print form. In a film saturated with the digital age, none of the makers could just put the issue on a tablet? But it gets far worst than just that: The story has no grasp of a moral compass, telling us to boo RIFT for their heinous assassinations, then to switch gears and ask us to cheer them on once Caster is viral. The same thing happens to Caster in the laughable third act: His Hal-9000 tendencies are very disconcerting to accept throughout the picture, especially once his nano-sperm spews from the ground, but we're supposed to feel bad for him since he refuses to take a human life. However, none of these creative issues compare to the character of Evelyn. The film always wants us to identify with her ongoing plight, despite her being a total sociopath, values a digital projection of her late husband over a human being, and thinks that living in an underground, artificial apartment is a rational decision. Warner Bros. and the other production companies should have shut down this project before subjugating it onto the public.


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