Monday, April 21, 2014

Transcendence Fails To Make A Real Statement... Or Any Kind Of Sense

It's always awkward to walk out of a movie theatre and realize the last two hours were only put in your way to help you waste time. Usually I don't have that kind of sensation (or lack there of). Usually I can understand, at least from a concept basis, why the filmmaker thought their movie would be worth our time. Any kind of movie can affect our lives. Unfortunately, Transcendence neither seems to care or want to.
I really am not one for spoilers, but the only way I feel I can accurately assess this movie is by walking through the awkwardness that was the final moments... if you really intend to go see this movie and think there is any chance you might enjoy it, stop reading now.
At first glance, the concept could be really fun. The singularity is a huge conversation piece these days, so why not try to imagine such an event? But the biggest question I glean from "singularity" is... yes it is consciousness... but is it the same consciousness? The biggest issue with this film is, it doesn't actively make a decision one way or the other on the matter. The military is attacking Johnny Depp's compound with everything they've got (which is apparently a bunch of small cannons that don't seem to do a whole lot of damage)... oh, and by the way, they've recently joined forces with the terrorist sect that started this whole mess because... I don't know... people are evil or something. But Johnny Depp's symbiotic (whatever) zombie people don't fight back. They just walk towards the other humans and stand there. So the military keeps using force for pretty much no reason. As Rebecca Hall's character is dying in the newly formed arms of reanimated Johnny Depp (yeah, this is what happens), she decides that it is actually him after all. But there is no legitimate proof one way or the other. She decides this because she is half-assedly being uploaded into his system so he can intentionally download a virus (this is your big climax??) and sees that he was doing everything for her. So yes, he cares about his creator, he loves the woman he loved when he was alive, but there's no legitimacy or attempt at such to the claim that it is actually the same guy who died in the first thirty or so minutes of the movie.
Also I'm pretty sure I saw most of this ending in Independence Day back in 1996... and the consensus always seemed to be that nothing about that made any sense.

Then Paul Bettany rambles into a very confusing and poorly written monologue about the garden the two of them made together... and would (I guess) live in forever (??). A drop of water falls... cleans up the mucky water... and the movie just... ends. It's one of those endings that leaves you slack jawed because it literally gives you nothing... not even something to consider as you walk out in silence and drive home... in silence. Because honestly there's nothing to pull from this movie for future conversations except the old, "Remember that movie Transcendence?" To which I would reply, "No."
I'm all for first time directors getting a shot at making something cool. But Wally Pfister (who clearly knows how to compose a great shot) didn't pick a particularly quality film to start a new career with. Then again, I don't blame him much. Sometimes the only excuse needed to make a first movie is just to make a first movie. Bringing it all together takes a lot of practice. Though I will say, from an acting perspective, I think he missed the boat. Johnny Depp was frequently difficult to understand... and while I do like the cast I found them to be a little too beautiful for a team of the world's smartest scientists. That and, everyone just seemed to be smiling all the time... even after all of their friends had just been poisoned, shot, or blown up in a terrorist attack. I don't know if Morgan Freeman would really be acting so smug in a situation like that... just saying.
Transcendence is a big concept as told by people who just aren't as smart as it. Almost, quite awkwardly, like how the FBI/military/terrorist sect is not as smart as Johnny Depp's super computer. It's funny how accidentally meta this whole thing is.

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