Published on April 21st, 2014 | by Ari Nellen0
Ari reviews the film Transcendence
Firstly the movie is riddled with plot holes, these being either actual inconsistencies with the plot or, more often, a misunderstanding of science. Those I will address, but they will include a butt load of spoilers. For that, see here. For now, I will attempt to address Transcendence, with what I assume is the charity that the creators expected of its audience.
The movie attempts, similarly to the movie Her, to romanticise AI and other forms of virtual consciousness. In the sense that it’s not hard sci-if, however it’s not even Star Treck Sci-fi where a balloon is full of air and something bad happens. However Transcendence still attempts to put science in, visually and through dialogue, both which fail to ring true with even my average understanding of science. Mostly it’s at odds with the movie’s intent, which is to make you question whether there is a conflict of humanity and the post human. Transcendence fails to evoke questioning of anything other than its shoddy conception of computing and virtual consciousness.
(Should I mention how how Freeman later used this speech, where Will says ‘humans make little gods all the time‘ to prove that Will is in the internet? What???)
The cinematography isn’t anything special & at times the CG came off fake looking. Though, some scenes really gave a sense of magic (the flying machines for those who’ve seen it), which the movie really could have done more of. While the acting wasn’t terrible, I expected more from Paul Bettany and Johnny Depp. Morgan Freeman played the character he always plays, the ‘wise black man’, with his wise narration it’s a two-for-one. In some ways I felt the acting was overshadowed by the at times tacky dialogue (with grandiose statements about what consciousness must be) and the clichéd nature of the characters and plot.
It’s extremely predictable, I found myself calling each ‘turn’ of the plot at least 5 mins before it happens. Each next step even more excruciatingly obviously. Even the final ‘twist’ at the end failed to really surprise, since I was half assuming it throughout the film.
The women in the movie played somewhat pivotal roles, and yet the Bechedel Test was superbly flunked. By somewhat pivotal I mean they are never in positions of power above the men. To illustrate this there is this perfect scene where Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall) offers to put herself in danger in order to help. Max Waters (Paul Bettany) looks directly over her head at the FBI in the room and tells them they can’t possibly let her do it, she might die. While Caster then tells him, shove off I know what I’m doing, it still shows the power structure of the movie.
The only POC main character is Morgan Freeman, with the rest of the cast being white. There is a definite failure of balance, and also, while I’m in no position to educatedly speak about racism, including Morgan Freeman into your movie starring as Morgan Freeman is hardly pushing any boundaries.
Somehow Freeman knows these computers are quantum computers just by looking at them. Also, why all those lights? Also where is the cooling? Do you know how PCs work?
I suppose watch Transcendence if you enjoy pulling apart the parts of the story which are absolute nonsense. No, I take it back, don’t watch Transcendence. Just don’t, everything was average. (It’s not even B-grade levels, instead it leaves you wondering what could have been and sad at an opportunity wasted).