I have this great idea guys, let’s make a movie where computers are given super intelligence, but get this, wait for it… something goes wrong… the audience will never see it coming.
“Transcendence” stars Johnny Depp as Will Caster a computer scientist on the verge of creating the world’s first self aware AI. When a terrorist group tries to dismantle his efforts, a creative solution to continue the work spins everything out of control. Man, Depp is on a cold streak right now. I think I’d have to go back 3 years to Rango for something I actually liked him in and that was only his voice. I may have to go back 7 years to Sweeney Todd if we’re talking live on screen. So is the streak finally broken? Not really. Though I have to admit I probably enjoyed this one more than most.
Much of that probably comes down to the intellectual nature of the concept. Sure we’ve seen the computer getting too smart for our own good storyline before… like a bunch… but there is something here that feels a little different and turns it on its head a bit. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of holes, and silly leaps of logic (which we will get to here in a second) but overall I was truly engaged by this world. I also liked the themes that explored the transitory nature of love and what’s real and what might be illusion. Plus, overall the acting here is really pretty great. Morgan Freeman is stellar and Rebecca Hall, who you may remember from Iron Man 3, is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses working. But I think I’m going to tag the technology as the best thing, as I found the inventions visually engaging and genuinely interesting. Which, by the way, wasn’t necessarily true about the rest of the movie.
Honestly, there are a few stretches during this that felt like swimming through molasses… without flippers. and I think a lot of that is due to the way the movie tries desperately to fully explain something we’re never going to buy into anyway. And the more the writers try to make it plausible the less plausible it seems to become. Just tell us how your world works and then tell the story in it, either we buy it or we don’t. You know who got that balance? Michael Crichton. Look at Jurassic Park. It didn’t labor on how the scientists created the dinos, it dropped the amber knowledge on us then went about it’s business telling us the rest of the story. Once you invest yourself in explaining all those details you end up just showing how big those logic gaps really are. I also wonder if the movie suffers from how much it resembles so many other films and TV Shows. I mean it’s basically just “Her” meats “Person of Interest”. Plus, the worst part is that as good as the acting around him is, Johnny Depp plays this role with so much nonchalance that it’s really hard to get invested in his character or what he becomes.
Overall, Transcendence is a compelling conceptual piece with too many flaws. Some great acting and interesting ideas just aren’t enough to transcend the logic holes and occasional slow going. Leaving it at a C+ for me.
Thanks for checking out this Your Movie Friend review, stay tuned for this review’s “Best Ever” challenge here in bit but first, I’m going to put up some stuff you can click over in this area. If you’d like to subscribe, which I would much appreciate, you can do so by clicking the big gray subscribe button. Want to see more? I’ll link my reviews to A Haunted House 2, Bears, and Heaven is for Real. You can also Click the logo up here to go to yourmoviefriend.com where you can search by title for reviews. And finally this review’s “Best Ever” Challenge, where you name the best movie ever in a particular category and also try to identify my choice. Since there are so many, What is the “the best movie ever where computers become sentient”. That’s right a singular singularity pick. I’ll exclude “Her” since I already mentioned it in the review and instead go with one that came out even more recently than that… much more recently. Drop your own answer and a guess at mine in the comments and first person to guess mine gets a point! Thanks and please subscribe!