Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Transcendence - 1 1/2 stars

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is a scientist working on artificial intelligence.  He works with his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and friend Max (Paul Bettany).  One day, he is shot and poisoned by luddite terrorists.  When he realizes he has less than a month to live, he decides to upload his consciousness into his computer system.  His wife supports this idea, but Max is skeptical. 

Obviously it works, or we wouldn't have a movie.  Once he's in the computer, he immediately wants to be connected to the internet.  Max, being a rational scientists, thinks they should take their time.  Evelyn, no longer rational, says "How dare you?  Get out!" and immediately uploads her husband's consciousness onto the web. 

Is it really him, or is it just his memory patterns?  The movie doesn't really sweat these details.  You would think that Evelyn would be so overjoyed to have her dead husband back that she would talk to him.  You would think she would ask what it feels like.  But no, she just turns into his willing servant, doing whatever she can to help him.  That's probably my biggest complaint about this movie.  No one has a conversation.  Every line of dialogue is movie speak which only serves to further the plot.  No characters are developed in any way.

There is a lot of potential to this premise, but the movie isn't smart enough to know what to do with it.  Instead it just becomes a dumb action movie.  Evelyn goes to a small town in the middle of nowhere and starts building some technological utopia.  Using nanotechnology, the virtual Dr. Caster starts to heal the townspeople of whatever ails them, then turns them into super soldiers.  Max is captured by the luddite terrorists, and eventually seems to join them (although that isn't really clear).  Morgan Freeman is also in this movie.  At first he is a researcher, but in the second half of the movie it seems like he has joined the FBI.

I have a lot of problems with this movie.  I already mentioned the lack of normal, human conversations.  Besides that, the movie jumps ahead two years without any good reason or explanation about what's been happening.  The characters' motivations make no sense.  I don't care how distraught Evelyn was when her husband dies, or how shocked he might be when he returns in virtual form.  I just can't believe that she would go along with everything he says without any hesitation or questioning.  Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy are totally wasted in this movie.  And Johnny Depp looks as bored in this movie as I was watching it.

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