Thursday, October 16, 2014

Transcendence

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The title itself just oozes with a superiority complex.







Transcendence – 2 out of 5


It’s an unspoken rule that trailers for films can and will lie to us.  Trailers are marketing, simple as that.  They are no different than the beer commercials that promise us that bikini-clad and incredibly fun women will show up the moment we crack open the bottle/can or we’ll be totes sexy if we walk around in a sheer, completely open satin robe while wearing Victoria’s Secret underwear or that Papa John’s pizza is somehow “good” or “digestible.”  And just like the shock we learn that beer will only help us in making embarrassing decisions, that without the body of a model that underwear won’t make us look like we could stop traffic, or find out that Papa John’s taste like a pizza from another chain vomited up and they just cooked said vomit, sometimes movie trailers will make a film look like something it’s not.  It’s a risk that comes with being a consumer.  In the case of Transcendence, the film looked like an action packed thriller about a computer A.I. gone mad and ready to rain death on the world of squishy and easily killable humans but the end result was…well…it’s wasn’t that at all.

She's crying because the computer that is her husband keeps showing
her cute cat videos...and their sex tape....together.
 
Will Caster (Johnny Depp) has become a rockstar in the world of artificial intelligence research.  While his work is appreciated by his colleges (and obsessed fans asking for autographs, for some reason), there are forces out there that want to stop him.  A terrorist group called Revolutionary Independence From Technology (or R.I.F.T., for short) wants to stop him and his research in A.I., so they set out and coordinate attacks on all the labs working on the project and shoot Caster with an irradiated bullet.  This is a little strange considering most people who feel like technology is ruining our lives aren’t so violent or proactive in real life and settle for just expressing their hatred of technology by using technology to post their thoughts on social media (and the irony is always lost on them).

"Man, I'll be so glad when we stop technology and advancements in artifi--Oh, sweet
my torrent of the latest episode of Game of Thrones is done."


"Close your eyes, Will.  The scanner will melt them if they're
open."
With Will rapidly dying, his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and his college Max Waters (Paul Bettany) help him upload his consciousness into a supercomputer.  Realizing the danger he is still in from R.I.F.T., Will and Evelyn flee to start their own research facility in a small town out in the middle of nowhere.  However, Will is becoming more powerful and starts using nanotechnology to create mindless slaves with heightened abilities that he can have complete control of.  When government scientist Joseph Tagger (Morgan Freeman) and FBI agent Buchanan (Cillian Murphy) visit the facility, they find terror waiting to happen and realize they must save Evelyn and upload a virus to stop Will.

"Save me in a minute, I'm watching my stories."
 

The trailer for this film looked like Will goes completely power mad and wants the world to bend to his might...but the end result was nothing like that.  In fact, the film really fails in creating any palpable threat from Will.  Yes, the movie shows that his little nanobots can heal injured people and the environment and, while doing it in humans, can make them stronger and even take control of them because he’s created a hive-mind; however, the film never really shows that he is a threat beyond the fact he has the potential to be one.  There is no problem with this—shit, the fear of a potential threat is how the film stars with the R.I.F.T. terrorist attacks but the climax of the film might have been better if the script had Will losing his shit and deciding that humans need to die and die horribly...or, at the very least, start to make him look more threatening and not look like the begin levels of becoming threatening.

"Yeah, so I have enhanced strength and speed now.  It's totally worth it being
enslaved to a self-aware computer and this ugly thing on my head.  No regrets."
 

Overall, the film felt like it didn’t want to vilify Johnny Depp in even the most remote way.  Hell, the film ends with him confessing that he’s doing all this—taking slaves and using nanobots to heal the environment—because he loves Evelyn just that much (way to set the bar to a standard that the rest of us slobs can’t achieve, dude).  While it’s not bad to have your antagonist redeem himself, Darth Vader turning against the dark side to save his son and return to the light is awesome, and this turn around can make for great drama, but in Transcendence, it felt more lazy than anything because he never really turns that dangerous or even mildly bad. 

"Am I on an iPad?  I feel smugger already!"


So...after the virus was uploaded, how many people died
due to life support systems shutting off and the lack of
technology to farm the food our massive population
needs?  But, you don't have to worry about smart-
phones ruining dinner time anymore, so I hope
you're happy.
And since the film barely has any resemblance of an antagonist to begin with, this makes the film feel like it has no real conflict to it besides pushing a heavy-handed hipster ideology that technology is just evil and we should go back to running around outside, stop eating processed foods, resume drinking from garden hoses, and all that other stupid shit that your Facebook friends share in order to call the younger, more tech-ingrained generation a bunch of shitheads (and FYI, the majority of my friends who share stupid stuff like that were not “free” from technology.  In fact, most of them saying how they played until dark and didn’t sit around watching TV were, actually, sitting around watching TV and playing Nintendo.  Get off your high horse—also, no one believes that you are actually obsessed with reading every time you share a picture claiming that you are really into reading).

"We're using keyboards as doorstops!  All those shares about how technology sucks
on Facebook were totes worth it!  I mean, my family is starving now because we don't
know how to grow our own food and my relatives in the North froze to death but it's
worth it because now I don't get Facebook game requests!"
 

And the nanobots war against the clouds begins...
Despite having a great cast giving very good performances, the film just feels like it is going through the motions at best and aimlessly wandering at worst.  The terrorist group R.I.F.T. makes very little sense as they are developed poorly.  I never got a sense of their dedication and really only learned about them and their motives from a quick little bit of dialogue from Cillian Murphy’s character.  They make less sense when you realize that they were very active in planning and orchestrating a massive attack on Will Caster’s A.I. research and were all over that shit like me on the donuts in the break room when they were trying to stop his upload into the supercomputer but when he starts creating his own compound the only thing they really do is question Max Waters (who they kidnapped) and then spread some flyers in the town the facility is located (they better have not used computers or printers for those flyers--ha ha, just kidding, this organization is seen using technology quite a bit in an effort to stop technology).  Overall, this terrorist group is already pretty silly but their place and part in the entire story feels even sillier.

"It's so great you kidnapped me.  The fact we haven't heard a single news report
about my disappearance is also fantastic."
 

The movie may have some good visuals and great special effects but the end feeling the film gives off is one of brilliance without the actual brilliance part.  The entire tone of the film wants you to believe it is being really deep and saying something important about our dependence on technology but the film’s only brilliance comes from the writer's own ego. 

Having people look in awe doesn't mean your script inspired it.


Freeman is looking ahead in the film and realizing that
nothing worthwhile happens.
The entire movie reminded me of a person who is quick to tell you how awesome they are but everything they produce are drowning in mediocrity.  In fact, the film reminded me of a girl I dated who self-published a book about vampires and she kept telling me that it was innovative and original and how “unlike” Twilight it was; however, after reading the book as a favor to her, I found a product that was EXACTLY like Twilight and contained every vampire cliché you can think of.  That is exactly what Transcendence is.  A film that thinks it is breaking new ground and sticks its nose in the air like it is the deepest and most amazing thing to witness but, in reality, is just a boring movie that does nothing special with its extremely weak conflict and has a story that ends before it ever feels like it gets up and gets going.

"Hello, I heard you say Twilight.  I am currently downloading the entire series
for us to enjoy."
 

The inclusion of solar panels made Fox News viewers
vomit in anger.
I was sold when I saw the trailer for Transcendence.  It looked like an exciting action thriller about computers revolting—kinda like Skynet in the Terminator franchise only it didn't need those damn pesky robots informing you about their imminent return and can handle all the human killing all by itself.  Plus, the film had a great cast of awesome actors, was produced by Christopher Nolan, and was the directorial debut of Nolan’s director of photography; Wally Pfister.  However, the end product wasn’t exciting, wasn’t action packed—fuck, it gave us this stupid sequence...

"Time to do something awesome..."
 
"And here we go..."
 
Wait, that was it?  Really?  I mean--come on!
Was it really worth the lame jump to save those few seconds of climbing?
 


Finally, the movie feels it’s smarter than it really was—and there’s more if you acknowledge all the plot holes the film has.  Yes, Pfister has some great visuals and his work behind the camera is great.  The film also has some great special effects and the cast is awesome but these elements can’t hide just how lethargic the story is and how bland and thrill-less the final product is.

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