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TRANSCENDENCE - Not Quite

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Warning, this review has slight spoilers

It's nice to see a movie where Johnny Depp looks like Johnny Depp, or at least like a real person for a change.  I read an interview where Depp says he doesn't like the way he looks, which is why he hides behind elaborate characters.  What kind of dysmorphic nonsense is that!

In Transcendence, Depp plays Dr. Will Castor, a leading authority on Artificial Intelligence, with a scholarly, science-geek kinda sexy going on. Of course we don't get to enjoy Depp in the flesh for long, as he's soon targeted with radiation poisoning and begins to look ghastly. By the time he looks like himself again, he's a virtual head on a screen.

Depp's famous characters

This brings us to the movie's plot - Dr. Castor and his partner in life and science, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) have been working on a super intuitive, possibly self-aware AI called PINN (Physically Independent Neural Network). It's Evelyn's dream that their work with PINN will lead to scientific breakthroughs in stem cell research, environmental issues, even solve the problems of poverty and hunger. Dr. Castor admires his wife's ambitions, but his objectives are more about science for the sake of science, in other words, he's more interested in exploring possibilities, rather than practical applications.

Transcendence - Rebecca Hall & Johnny Depp

Then there are those detractors who don't agree with Dr. and Mrs. Castor's work, fearing the possibilities of omnipotence and therefore deeming their work a threat to society. And as is often the case, these zealots are willing to kill members of society in order to "protect society" This anti-technology group is lead by Bree (Kate Mara), Mara is an actress whom I normally love, but found very annoying in this movie, not to mention, really not feeling her as a blonde.
Transcendence - Kate Mara

Transcendence is a movie I anticipated eagerly (even went to New Jersey for the preview screening) - it's full of seemingly plausible, brilliant scientific theories and possibilities, a Sci-Fi power couple, near apocalyptic, world changing implications, and Morgan Freeman to lend credibility and weight. Unfortunately,  sometimes you can have all the right ingredients and still the finished product is tasteless. None of the aforementioned elements added up to a good movie.

Which is a shame, because this movie is Wally Pfister, best known as Christopher Nolan's Oscar-winning cinematographer's, directing debut, and in reading interviews with Pfister and Depp, you can tell #Transcendence was a labor of love.

From LATimes- Transcendence: Paul Bettany & Johnny Depp

I think one issue has to do with location, too much of the movie takes place on this technology compound bought with stolen internet money, after Will's brain is uploaded into PINN.  For some reason, the landscape of the compound shown again and again with its rows and rows of satellight dishes, is boring and does not advance the plot.

I suppose we should be glad the movie doesn't create a cliched triangle between Will, Evelyn and another scientists, Max (Paul Bettany), who helped write the PINN program and assists Evelyn in uploading Will's brain; however, I think a little messy jealousy would have helped the story a lot.

The real problem is nothing really happens. Okay, so Virtual Will does heal some people and in doing so, gives them "Bionics" and Evelyn gets freaked out cause he can read her bio-rhythms - but, he doesn't do anything harmful. There needs to be a point where a line is crossed, instead of shutting Will's brain down and the whole internet on the chance that he might become too powerful. And if that is the case, then we should feel sympathy for virtual Will and Evelyn, we should be left with the idea, that they were only trying to make advancements to a world not quite ready to accept the possibilities.

I'm all for exploring man's dangerous dance with technology, but I just couldn't hear this beat.

FOOD N FILM: Kate Mara's anti-tech group devises a plan to kill an entire office of computer scientists by lacing a birthday cake with poison - I'd have been the first to go.

Throw in your Random Thoughts

T &T's LAMB Score:2.5 outta 5



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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.
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Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?
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