From Left Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, and Paul Bettany in “Trascendence”
About two years ago, a director of Photography, you know the guy that sets up the lights and runs camera on a film set? Well For those that missed the uproar DP Wally Pfister spoke out against that years Blockbuster film, The Avengers. Calling the Marvel film” Appalling” then continued to bash the film’s Format and disclose what he thought was spent on the set. Today his Directorial debut was released. A Science fiction film entitled Transcendence. A compelling film that does a good job at asking the right questions about Artificial Intelligence, but tells a story directed in Nolan’s vision and is produced by him as well. The only thing missing is the jarring frames.
Transcendence Star s Johnny Depp as Will Castor the creator of PINN, Physical Neural Network, in short a computer that thinks all on its own. A man whose dream it is to have created the first true AI. While presenting at a convention to gain the necessary funds for his dream to become reality, Will manages to anger Rift. An extremist group Led by Bree (Kate Mara) that thinks Ai isn’t something to play god with and has Will shot. He recovers, but discovers he’s dying of radiation poisoning and in a last-Ditch-effort successfully uploads himself to PINN. Make no mistake though even friends close to will suddenly begin to question their actions as Will could have in no way done this himself. Members of Rift approach Max in public places trying to convert him and even threatening his life, because they know what he’s up to.
Scientists call what Will has done by using his mind to create this entity a Singularity, which the film points out, but its lead character wishes to call it ‘Transcendence’ almost for the joy of it. While at the aforementioned convention a guest asks Castor if he wants to create a god, to which he replies “isn’t that what mankind does?” The answer is inevitably yes, but in a much more enthusiastic and convincing way than presented here.
Jack Palgen’s script does a good job at finding the right level between questioning the repercussions AI will have on the world if it becomes too smart and just when something really should be done about it. Because, the machine embodying whatever remains of Castor does evolve quite rapidly and makes medical and technological breakthroughs that could be used every day by those truly in need. The problem is intelligence is intelligence and seeks to do and gain more when given the opportunity. This is ultimately where the film sinks and suddenly it doesn’t really matter how the events play out. You know what is going to happen before it happens, because the computer tells you it’s going to happen.
Transcendence is a very entertaining film that is beautifully shot courtesy of Cinematographer Jess Hall, but it’s a shame to see a world renowned cinematographer such as Wally Pfister take a back seat instead of lighting his own film like so many other great filmmakers have. Granted, Pfister and Hall no doubt are excellent collaborators, Pfister should have just done his own lighting if he is going to speak out against another filmmaker’s production.
Johnny Depp an otherwise great actor appears to be relaxing as well, this is his most lackluster role yet with little wiggle room to grow, if at all. His character throughout the 2hrs and 15 mins of this film changes very little if from body and brain to core processors is a major difference, none really is seen. Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Morgan Freeman and various other actors ranging from Cole Hauser to even CSI’s Wallace Langham appear and make up for his shortcoming. This sets his performance apart from his great body of work, which is full of funny and very unique characters. Transcendence is not recommended and is overall a complete disappointment.