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Transcendence
BLU-RAY disk
08.05.2014 By: Mathew Plale
Transcendence order download
Director:
Wally Pfister

Actors:
Johnny Depp
Rebecca Hall
Paul Bettany

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After a scientist (Depp) is killed, his wife (Hall) uploads his consciousness into his own invention.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is a leading scientist in the field of artificial intelligence. “Imagine,” he tells an auditorium of listeners, “such an entity with a full range of human emotion, even self-awareness.” It’s an idea he coins “Transcendence.” And it’s that idea that causes a member of an extremist group to shoot him after his presentation.

Radiation in the bullet gives Will about a month to live. Despite a sensible argument about potential dangers from friend and fellow scientist Max Waters (Paul Bettany), Will’s wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) decides to upload Will’s consciousness into his own creation.

Initially, TRANSCENDENCE considers what it means to be human and brings up the question, Is Will still human if he can still interact with others while now technically an A.I.? Or is he dead? What exactly makes one alive and one dead? Compelling and debatable ideas all.

But soon enough, the clever ideas are pushed to the side for the chance to show off slick visuals. That is one of the risks with having a cinematographer tackle directing for the first time. Wally Pfister, who earned Academy Award nominations for BATMAN BEGINS, THE PRESTIGE and THE DARK KNIGHT and won for INCEPTION, may know what such a movie should look like (and TRANSCENDENCE, shot by Jess Hall, certainly looks great), but he doesn’t seem to have a grasp on directing, as the movie never seems to settle on what genre it is and the pacing never flows. (And whether his words contributed at all to Depp’s stiff performance—or even if said performance was intentional—remains unclear; supporting performances from Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy and Kate Mara don’t add much, either.)

THE EXTRAS
What is Transcendence? (5:20): Cast and crew members, including Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman and Wally Pfister, discuss the plot and ideas of TRANSCENDENCE in this brief, standard making-of featurette

Wally Pfister: A Singular Vision (2:52): First-time director Pfister is put under the spotlight for cast members to praise.

Guarding the Threat (2:18) is another short piece that again features key cast members discussing the plot. This is a bit repetitive of the first featurette and probably could have been lumped in with it.

The Promise of A.I. (2:34): Artificial intelligence is highlighted but there’s not enough time given for the interviewees to go into any depth.

It’s Me (1:02), Singularity (1:09) and R.I.F.T. (0:58) are all teasers.

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FINAL DIAGNOSIS
TRANSCENDENCE starts off promising by asking compelling questions such as, What makes a human a human?, but soon falls victim to the filmmakers putting so much into the visuals and not enough into the ideas. Special features include a collection of on the movie, its director and artificial intelligence.
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6:50AM on 08/05/2014
I really, really don't think it's that bad. Shame about the extras being so scant though.
I really, really don't think it's that bad. Shame about the extras being so scant though.
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12:44PM on 08/05/2014
Yah, it got unfairly dumped on. It's not THAT bad. Granted the second half isn't as strong as the first, but it was an entertaining throwaway sic-fi flick.
Yah, it got unfairly dumped on. It's not THAT bad. Granted the second half isn't as strong as the first, but it was an entertaining throwaway sic-fi flick.

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