Friday, May 9, 2014

Transcending Common Sense

The singularity makes for an oddly confusing story in Transcendence 


ARTH VADER (AV): Welcome to the future. Science has long embraced the concept for the Singualrity, the concept outlined by Raymond Kurzweil (yes that one) where mankind and technology meet a finite point in time (2044 to be exact) where machine (or artificial) intelligence meets–and ultimately surpasses–human intelligence. This story has been the backdrop for some of Sci-Fi’s greatest cinematic exploits. Movies like Logan’s Run (1976), Oblivion (2013) Terminator (1984) as well as TV shows like Revolution and even 1984’s War Games act as cautionary tales to the impending technological terrors of an AI gone rogue. Unfortunately, while an interesting take, Ponty, Transcendence doesn’t quite keep with the traditional ‘A.I. over Human’ tale of horror. 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Transcendence is original, and yet familiar at the same time (as pointed out by the Dark One above)…but that isn’t the real news here. My shock was learning afterward that science is actually pursuing, and close to, the technology displayed in this film…and if that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. 


AV: Johnny Depp is such an accomplished actor, especially in the Sci-Fi fantasy realm, that any film he is part of–usually–is made better just by his presence. Even JD couldn’t save this movie from itself. Depp’s role and character are more props than actual characterizations. The sentiment of machine is evil, so convoluted, so lost and Depp’s role was made so pointless, it played as tireless backdrop dribble. Rebecca “Iron Man 3“ Hall’s role was far more believable as her character’s heart is broken and then made a casualty of science. The depth of her character was far more compelling than any other in the film.

TP: I haven’t been a fan of Johnny Depp, but I must say that he didn’t put me off with his usual weird style while portraying Dr. Will Caster, probably because the role didn’t call for it. Rebecca Hall was interesting and engaging, offsetting the transformation of Depp with her characterization. For me, Paul Bettany is always interesting and here, he makes the most of his supporting role. Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman and with the size of his role, I’m guessing he was there for name recognition. The film moved at a moderate pace and kept me interested, although never really got me excited.

AV: While there were some moments where some innovative visual effects played well, for the most part the film presented nothing new in the SF/X category. Sad to, when you think, this movie, down to it’s DNA, is a film crying out for awesome visual effects. Really just amounts to a missed opportunity, Pontificator. What did you think? 

TP: Nothing to write home about, just more of the same done well enough to not have to say anything bad about it Vader. The SFX were simplistic when compared to other films, but effective in moving the story along. Set designs and scenery were excellent and gave extra depth to the film.


AV: As I see it, P-Man, this film’s major flaw has little to do with the film itself. Sure it’s pacing was a downright mess, yes the screenplay reads as if some random mid-range mainframe from the 1990’s actually formed words into a semi-cohesive concoction and spit out a script. And yes, the story made little linear sense and rambled like a gypsy at a Ouija board. But the biggest albatross around this films’s neck was the marketing. This film, if you watched the YouTube videos, TV spots, radio ads and in-theater trailers. This film’s marketing torpedoed this film from the word go, long before it ever hit the big screen. It was sold to the movie-going audiences that this was an action-packed, sci-fi thriller, which is so far from this film actually ventured to. It’s kind of like this, ever offered a cupcake and you were told to expect Vanilla cake with vanilla icing and after you bite into it, you get banana but bread with cream-cheese icing? It spoils you to the latter forever because, by no fault of it’s own, you were expecting something other than you got, forever leaving a bad taste in your mouth for it. Thought’s P-Man? 

TP: There were a few plot holes Vader, but without them the film would have been a lot shorter. We have already seen in other films (and real life) that we have enough technology today to find just about anyone. With the level of access Caster had in this film, it’s just not believable that the anti-tech terrorist group (that uses tech) could elude him for as long as they did. It wasn’t believable that with all his accumulated knowledge, he didn’t figure out his opponents every move days before they even thought of moving against him. The only thing more disturbing than the plot holes is the fact that much of the advances made in this film are actually real life endeavors. The thought of transcendence is interesting, maybe, if you are the one transcending. However, if you are simply a cog plugged into the system that can go “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” on someone else’s whim… not so interested anymore.


AV: Just not interested. Even Depp’s character was unable to make me care enough to want to see or know more. Let’s all just acknowledge this movie for what it was… a swing and a miss. 

TP: Although the ending leaves an opening, the nature of the story just doesn’t call for a sequel. This film is a love story gone awry that comes fully around to complete the “togetherness” circle. This is not to say that the story can’t be built upon, but it would have to be something else which, in my opinion, would defeat the purpose of the characters. 


ARTH VADER rates Transcendence: Unfortunately, this film is mediocre at best and even that was laid waste to the fact that it was so grossly mis-marketed that the film was left to fend for itself in the wake of some other movies more better identified and properly segmented. All of that means, for me at least, this movies is hardly worth the price of a rental (maybe a couple bucks). So for what could have been a moving and thought-inducing experience turns out to be a confusing, uninspired wage of an afternoon. Which means, for me, Transcendence digitally alter just four (4) barely earned busted blocks

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Transcendence: A very interesting story with some roots in reality (as scary as that is), this film was interesting, but not very exciting. I actually found myself hoping Caster would prevail and remake the world… which was probably my delayed reaction to the plot holes. While not a blockbuster, it did transcend six (6) busted blocks onto the next level.  

Transcendence: 5 / 10 Busted Blocks

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