Transcendence: Review

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A sci-fi staple since the beginning of the genre, the concept of man vs. artificial intelligence is once again explored in Transcendence.
When the scientists at the forefront of developing self aware A.I are attacked by anti-tech terrorist group ‘Rift’, the brilliant Will Caster finds himself on the receiving end of a radioactive bullet.
With weeks to live, his partner Evelyn and long term friend Max take it upon themselves to transfer his consciousness to a super computer, in the hope of keeping his soul intact after death.
However, as is always the case, the more powerful the system becomes the more threat it poses to mankind, and soon enough must be destroyed.
With a highly disappointing directorial debut from Wally Pfister, one of the best cinematographers working today, Transcendence attempts and fails in creating a Christopher Nolan-type sci-fi film.
There’s nothing particularly awful about Pfister direction; the look of the film is nowhere near as gorgeous as I would have expected, but it’s the dull and lackluster script that lets this film down.
I don’t need my summer science fiction to have elaborate action sequences or even to be super clever, but I do need to feel engaged with the story. With Transcendence, the only thing I felt was a sense of bemusement as the plot continued to push the boundaries of believability. By the film’s end, it has more in common with a B movie than the work of Kubrick or Nolan; which it tries to replicate.
There’s certainly a great basic idea here, but by the time regenerative rain and people with super human strength come into the plot, the premise is so incoherent that I had no choice but to go along with it, in the hope it would have some pay off. It didn’t.

The cast is fine but under-utilised, with Pfister clearly calling in some favours from Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy from his Dark Knight days. I got the impression that they didn’t really seem to know what was going on either.
With such excellent talent in front and behind the camera, perhaps my expectations were too high with Transcendence. Whilst for the most part, everybody does their job well, the highest praise I can give it is that it manages to pack a lot into its less than two hour run time. Sure, a lot of it is drivel, but now that the average film is over two hours, the run time of this is refreshing.
Transcendence is officially out on the 25th April, but previewing this weekend. If you want clever and exciting sci-fi though, this isn’t the film you’re looking for.

 

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