Submitted by Matthew Sheehan on Fri, 07/25/2014
Synopsis: In “Transcendence,” Dr. 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 famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.
Main Features: "Transcendence" is a warning look at what could be. It also is a stunted examination of such, never living up to the message it so woefully misdelivers. Where are we going as a culture obsessed with advancement of technology? With so many smartphones and computers responding to spoken operations rather than physical keystrokes, "Transcendence" attempts to examine a human being becoming one with the technology. It sets itself up for social messages about how far is technology too far, obsession and corruption of power. Sadly, it's a jumbled mess from longtime cinematographer, first-time director Wally Pfister. It's nice to look at (even though the Blu-ray is not presented as highly as it was in theaters), but the script is a mess. There are kinks to work out after directing a film for the first time, and, since Pfister attempted to work with good ideas, let's hope he finds himself on the better end of a sophomore outing.
Bonus Features: Extras are more disappointing than the film itself. Each standard featurette bonus is no longer than 5-6 minutes. These are more promotional materials that feel like they're on YouTube for the film's theatrical release rather than a deeper look at the meaning and making of the movie. Then again, when the film is disappointing, the extras are liable to be so,too.
Final Call: "Transcendence" attempts desperately to tackle the dangers of too much technology but suffers from itself having not enough.
2 out of 4 Stars