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It’s been a while since I’ve written a movie review but there is a good reason for that. It’s because apparently all the good movies get released in either the summer holidays or December. Unfortunately Koh Samui is a small island and even getting drunk or the novelty of Central Festival shopping centre wear off after a while and on a Saturday night we found ourselves in an audience of at least nine people watching Johnny Depp in his latest outing, Transcendence.
Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, a scientist at some point in the nearish future type time who is at the forefront of developing computer AI, or Artificial Intelligence. Dr. Caster is married to Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and together they develop AI for what seem to be generally productive and genuinely moral reasons. Their best friend Max played by British actor Paul Bettany is also involved in similar research but questions the dangers of highly developed AI in the modern world. Morgan Freeman also pops up randomly from time to time along with his best buddy, an FBI agent played by Cillian Murphy who was more memorable as the head of Arkham Insane Asylum in Batman Begins.
With a solid cast and quite a decent idea director Wally Pfister (pronunciation unknown – hopefully silent p) makes a good start to the movie with some impressive computer techno babble and a terrorist group called R.I.F.T., which stands for something forgettable, generally causing mayhem and destruction. R.I.F.T. seem to be a violent well organised group of the type of people that moan about the advancement of technology and its detriment to genuine human interaction and then post their grievances on facebook and twitter directly from their smartphone. I notice these people remain completely unaware of the inherent irony of using technology to moan about technology. They also have clearly forgotten how hard it was to get more than three people in the same place at the same time pre-mobile phones. Nostalgia, it’s not what it used to be!
To cut a long story short Johnny Depp embeds himself in a computer and then with Evelyns help develops a huge processer in the desert where the computerized version of him manages to develop nano-technology and stem cell research to an incredible extent. Anyway I think that’s what was going on but somewhere in the middle the whole movie gets a bit lost and generally a bit confused. One of my major issues with it was that I couldn’t really work out at any given point quite who the bad guys were, who the good guys were or if I really gave a shit about any of it. It feels like Transcendence had some sort of point to make but what that point was eludes me. Maybe the point was computers are cool….but dangerous….. but cool, however they’re dangerous. There was also some philosophical business thrown in about self awareness that never went anywhere of any real interest which may or may not have been the central theme of the movie.
In a nutshell Transcendence is watchable and at times interesting and entertaining but on the whole fails to capitalize on the possibilities of the initial idea and doesn’t really know where to go once it starts. I’m personally a fan of every single cast member and that probably saved the movie for me although I have to say I think Depp seemed a little bored at times as well. If I was French I would say ‘Boff’ and if I was in American high school I would post ‘just watched Transcendence, feeling Meh’ on a variety of social networking sites. But I’m English so whatever…..
Star Rating 2.5/5