Friday, July 4, 2014
Review: Transcendence (2014)
While I was watching this film, I was saying to myself how the point of thoughtful sci-fi is to make viewers think. When watching a film like this, we are meant to ask questions about the ethics of the procedure at hand and Transcendence does that very successfully.
Transcendence follows a scientist named Will Caster (Johnny Depp) who along with his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) look to enact technological singularity and call it Transcendence. However, Will is shot with a poisoned bullet by a member of a radical extremist group known as R.I.F.T.. Evelyn then looks to upload Will's consciousness onto a computer and eventually his mind grows stronger and stronger. But the question is whether or not this sentient mind is Will and whether or not this procedure is morally correct.
What I Liked About It:
Since I mentioned how there are questions asked in the "Story" section, I liked how there are questions being asked as you are watching the film. The point of thoughtful sci-fi, like this film or Splice or even though I haven't seen it, Jurassic Park, is to ask whether or not the procedure at hand is ethical. Since the film's sentient computer is able to heal and solve whatever problems in the world there are, we are left wondering "Even though this has upsides, what are the downsides?". I also really liked how the film gives us the points of view of the different characters. We not only see the side of Will and Evelyn, but their best friend Max (Paul Bettany), who is caught in the middle, as well as the extremist group, and I loved that.
I also thought the acting was pretty good. Johnny Depp plays a character completely different from his usual "Tim Burton" or "Jack Sparrow" routine and honestly that is quite a relief. I always enjoy seeing him play those types of characters, but it is just nice to see him do something new and demonstrate his impressive range as an actor. Rebecca Hall is also amazing and gives the most "transcendent" performance in the film, as she goes from a woman desperately trying to save her husband to aid of a sentient computer to slowly going "What have I done?". Another actress I want to acknowledge is Kate Mara was a scene stealer as Bree, the leader of R.I.F.T. and honestly was a bit chilling at times. All the other actors, including Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, and Cillian Murphy, were all very good as well.
What I Didn't Like About It:
If there is one thing I didn't like, through no fault of the film itself, it is that this film got mixed to poor reviews. I mean, the fact that it got poor reviews doesn't necessarily piss me off. What pisses me off is a film like this gets poor reviews while utter crap like Thor: The Dark World and incohesive films like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 get slightly better or much better reviews. Here, we have a sci-fi film that actually has a cohesive plot and that doesn't rely on too much effects and has the characters wondering whether what is taking place is right or not as the film progresses. But it seems people and critics would rather stuff their faces with cinematic junk food that has enough action to give viewers diabetes. In other words, a ton of action and little room for character development as well as cohesive storytelling.
Overall, Transcendence is a thought-provoking piece of sci-fi that features inventive storytelling and great performances from the cast. If you do like thought-provoking sci-fi and don't just want action thrown at your face, I would put this high on your watch list. If you are looking for just action, I would put this a little lower on your watch list. It does have action, but it is based more on its plot.