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Film Review: Transcendence

On April 24, 2014

By Rebecca McRitchie
Known for his award-winning cinematography in films such as Inception and The Dark Knight, Wally Pfister was able to nab Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany for his directorial debut, Transcendence.

Dr. Will Caster (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 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 (Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can - but if they should.

Artificial Intelligence is a largely complex subject matter and, sadly, Transcendence fails to comprehensively tackle this complexity. Perhaps the fault of an underdeveloped screenplay, but the logic of the plot isn't given as much attention as the visual aspects of the film. Johnny Depp, although a fan favourite, is limited in his ability to win over audiences as he is confined to a computer screen for a majority of the film.

Pfister is evidently a superb visual artist but this does not seem to aid the movie's narrative enough. Overall, I give Transcendence a 2 out of 5.

Transcendence opens today in cinemas across Australia.

Transcendence Trailer

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