Transcendence, Hollywood English Film Movie Review, Johnson Thomas, Rating: *  * 1/2

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Transcendence(English/Imax) Rating: *  *  ½ This sci-fi adventure is caught-up in the hoary contrariness about man playing God, the dominance of machine and the uncontrollable nature of life thereafter. Goes a step further than ‘Her’ but doesn’t possess the similar poignancy. Johnny Depp is liberally wasted and appears disinterested while Rebecca Hall and Paul Bethany try and salvage some affective engagement.


English film review                                               
Johnson Thomas
Film: Transcendence
Cast: Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Kate Mara, Cole Hauser, Cillian Murphy  
Director: Wally Pfister

Rating: *  *  ½

Synopsis:Wally Pfister, longtime cinematographer for Christopher Nolan, makes his directorial debut with this sci-fi adventure starring Johnny Depp. Jack Paglen provides the script

Nothing conventional about this sci-fi that aims to go one better than ‘Her’ but doesn’t exactly have the wherewithal or the conviction to make it stick.   Transcendence speculates about the implications of imminent technological breakthroughs on life in the very, very near future. . Christopher Nolan's regular cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his directorial debut with this challenging subject that had many possibilities but very few of them well realized. The  story was ripe with dramatic, thematic, ethical, scientific, political and romantic angles and the complexity thereof could well have led to another ‘Inception’ but that was not to be.   

Artifical Intelligence, Robotics, Mind control, smart computers are all there and so is the merging of man and machine where the machine acquires the knowledge , memory as well as the emotion of the homo-sapien. First Time screenwriter Jack Paglen’s script takes that leap of faith but doesn’t distinguish it with the required poignancy or believability.

An apocalyptic future where there is no technology is the opening for this yarn and thereafter it’s a series of flash-backs narrated by neuro-biologist Max Waters(Paul Bettany). Five years earlier Max, tech genius Dr Will caster(Johnny Depp) and Caster’s researcher wife Evelyn(Rebecca Hall) have just made a massive breakthrough leading to the doorstep of the sentient computer- one that could possess the combined intelligence of all those who lived on earth. Will, who admits to playing God, is shot and several labs around the continent are blown up as protestors led by Bree(Kate Mara) of RIFT, ups the stakes. Before Will succumbs Evelyn and Max succeed in transferring his intelligence to the computer which then manifests itself into a digital super human being.  Warned by the digitized Will, Evelyn escapes to a dead town and sets up her unit there. And the resultant is Bionic beings that have superior strength and never fall ill. Will morphs into a digital phantom, Evelyn becomes unhinged and Max is long sidelined by his captors. The residual poignancy is lost.

If only the plotting had incorporated a little more insight and development, this film would have been a different experience altogether. {aul Bettany and Rebecca Hall are the only ones who provide some semblance of enagagement. Johnny Depp looks lost and Morgan Freeman, bored.

 Pfister’s heavy handed direction tends to reduce everything to simplistic standoffs. He has certainly delivered a good-looking, well-produced picture,  like all d.p. turned directors but it’s a trifle short on story-telling craft. Pfister’s d.p. of choice, Jess Hall, seems pretty much obsessed with sun flares and slow-mo water droplets and those images certainly leave you wondering about what could have been!


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