Thursday, April 17, 2014

'Transcendence,' An Eerie Look At What Might Be

By Darlene Donloe

Transcendence, the new Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman thriller, is an eerie and creepy movie – mostly because I don’t think we’re that far from that actually happening.

The sci-fi film, set for a nationwide release on Fri., Apr. 18, takes a scientific look at man’s intelligence and the transferring of the same to a far-reaching machine.

One would have been early in the 20th century that high-level prosthetics would not allow people to pick up tiny objects, speak or even run in the Olympics. But it happened.

In Transcendence, Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions.  His highly controversial experiments have made him so famous he has groupies, which gives him a rock star appeal. Some applaud his work. However some do not and will do anything to stop him. His experiments have made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who want to destroy Caster’s findings.

In their attempt to put an end to Will’s work, they unintentionally become the channel for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. 

Aiding Will in his efforts is his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and his best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany). Both are fellow researchers, who initially believe in what Caster is doing, but then begin to question the bigger picture.

Of course their worst fears are realized when Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly all-pervading quest for power. To what end – they don’t know.  

But, that’s not even their biggest fear. They become terrified at the prospect of possible being unable to stop him. After all, they have housed his brilliant mind inside of what is essentially the internet.   Huh?  Yeah!  It’s strange, but like a train wreck, you can’t stop looking.

The big question becomes  - it what they are doing ethical and moral?  And, what makes it juicy is there is no right or wrong answer – or is there?

This is a tricky thriller that sheds light on what the world could become if technology is allowed to run amuck. The movie is sleek and impressive and opens up a long repetitious list of ideas.  

Good performances from a good cast!

This is probably right up some techies alleys. Others may find it a bit far-fetched and a bit too out of this world to be plausible or pleasing. If an audience member is not familiar with algorithms, they could get lost in the minutiae. If nothing else, though, the film is entertaining.

Alcon Entertainment presents “Transcendence,” directed by  Oscar®-winning  cinematographer Wally Pfister, stars Oscar® nominee Johnny Depp, Oscar® winner Morgan  Freeman, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy and Clifton Collins, Jr.

Transcendence marks the feature film directorial debut of Pfister (Inception and the Dark Knight movies). A commendable first effort.

Transcendence, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
 is Rated PG-13; Running time: 120 minutes. 

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), gets an O (OK).


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