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September 19, 2017 7:48 am

Well-Established Plot Turns “Transcendence” From Adequate To Enjoyable

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When Transcendence was released on BluRay on the 22nd, I ran straight to my computer to watch it on Google Play. Granted, I had not had the opportunity to read much of what it was about. However, the prospect of a combination of Johnny Depp’s acting skill and a sci-fi feature dealing with artificial intelligence and the evolution beyond physical life was too much up my alley for me to pass up.

The story unfolds in the present, years since the circumstances of the main plot occurred. Technology has become trash, society has collapsed. Rewind five years in the past to two scientists and their quest to birth the first AI.

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No story of this nature would be complete without the shadowy, anti-tech group, which would show its face early in the form of an irradiated bullet to Depp’s abdomen. This would culminate in the quest to “upload” Depp’s consciousness into a computer, using his created AI, PINN, as the template. What comes next, you will have to see for yourself!

The only real problem I had with this movie was the acting. Take three talented actors and put them in the wrong roles and that pretty much sums up how the movie felt. Johnny Depp, arguably one of the greatest actors of our time, is given no chance to flex his usual expressive and diverse range of talent. Which isn’t to say he did not perform the role well, just that it was ill suited for his type of acting quality.

The other complaints I had were much more of a personal opinion, based on roles in other movies I really enjoyed. I like Rebecca Hall in The Town, where she successfully portrayed a balance of vulnerability and strength, rather than just a victim. In Transcendence, this emotion seemed to lean solely towards the hysterical, with a severe lack of any evidence that would suggest she is a brilliant scientist.

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I prefer Paul Bettany, a favorite of mine from Legion and Priest, as a tough guy, something he portrays in spades inn the aforementioned films. So when he appears in the role of Max Waters, a much more subdued and weaker character, it was a bit disappointing.

However, if you put those aspects aside, you actually have a movie with a unique plot to it. Sure, artificial intelligence and the evolution of mankind is the topic of many a movie these days. Thing is, how many of them actually put the omnipotent machine-based intelligence as the good guy? For the most part, movies that include any type of robot or machine always place them squarely in the role of the villain.

Not so with Transcendence. Sure, the action of taking over people’s free will is a non stater for just about anyone. What was different though is that the AI’s sole goal was betterment, not control. Lump in the fact that Depp actively avoided killing humans, as well as his willingness to sacrifice himself to save the life of friend Paul Bettany, and you have a non-human intelligence with more soul and character than many humans I come across.

In my opinion, the misalignment of acting talent and expectation was not enough to sink this film, by any means. So, if you enjoy the futuristic side of movies, and want something different than the normality of most sci-fi films, Transcendence should be right up your alley.

Dan Mullins

I write for FilmForecaster.com - Check it out! I love films - old and new. Writing, editing, and researching for my own screenplays.

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