Uploading our brain waves to the internet. Making body parts from scratch. Both are technologies from Transcendence that are at least somewhat believable. However when Nanobots started floating out of the ground and controlling people’s minds, the movie reached a point where it just became a bit absurd. This is one of the issues with “Transcendence”, the new Warner Bros. movie featuring stars such as Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman. Although “Transcendence” features some deeper questions about the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) and interesting eye candy, it falls flat in the plot and reality of concepts.
Transcendence has the star power that can hang with just about any other film in theaters these days. Johnny Depp plays Will Caster, a dying computer scientist that uploads the patterns of his brain to a supercomputer in order to preserve his psyche. Morgan Freeman is his second-in-command and ends up caught between the two sides in the controversy over the future of AI.
The main premise of this movie is that as Caster spends more time in a cyberspace, his desire for power continues to grow. Over the course of the movie, this raises questions over how much society wants to use AI’s. That’s one of the issues with this movie, there just isn’t much there. After a while, the plot felt predictable and drab.
To me, Morgan Freeman is a pretty versatile actor. From starring as Nelson Mandela in the drama “Invictus” to playing the quirky tech creator Lucius Fox in “Batman Begins”, he can do just about anything. However when Johnny Depp came on the screen, all I could think of was his swashbuckling pirate character that made him famous, Jack Sparrow.
Except for a few twists and turns, Transcendence turned out to be pretty typical and predictable. The suspense of whether or not Caster’s upload to the computer will be successful isn’t much of a nail biter. They aren’t going to completely kill of their largest character in the first quarter of the movie after all.
This movie felt overdone in some ways. With a feel that was reminiscent of “Inception” and a plot that raises the same questions as “Her”, it was all a bit used-up. There were a few novel ideas looking into the future of science but that can all be done better; just look at how “Avatar” and “Iron Man” have made millions off this idea. They were both able to take average storylines that have been done before but turn them into blockbusters with eye-grabbing graphics.
These issues led to a sense of mediocrity over the entirety of the film. Transcendence was just average. It may seem like I hated it but I didn’t, it just wasn’t spectacular. There were moments where I wanted to be pulled into the film. Occasionally I lost myself in the future of what the tech would be but then I was dragged back to reality. A weak plot, debatable choice in stars and unrealistic nature of certain moments made “Transcendence” fall flat. In these days of summer flicks with million dollar budgets, it takes a lot to stand out and this movie simply didn’t do that for me.
In order for this movie to be successful it needed to differentiate itself in some way. A large twist somewhere, crazy new plot line or even just something special would help this movie move a long ways but that special something just wasn’t there.
For your money, go out and rent the Pirates of The Caribbean series, it’s what you’ll be thinking about anyway.