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.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).
|She's crying because the computer that is her husband keeps showing|
her cute cat videos...and their sex tape....together.
|"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|
|"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!"|
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).
|And the nanobots war against the clouds begins...|
|"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.
|"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.
|"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.