Directed by Wally Pfister
Ever since Ross mentioned the concept of living on as an AI after we die in that episode of Friends, I’ve been kind of fascinated with the idea. When I saw the trailer for Transcendence a couple of months ago, I sat prepared, waiting in eager anticipation.
The story surrounds Dr Will Caster (Johnny Depp), a highly renowned researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, who is targeted by technology-resistant terrorists. After he is tactically taken down, his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and close friend Max (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, manage to upload his consciousness to a highly powerful super-computer. This artificial Dr Caster, however, develops a seemingly endless thirst for power and knowledge, sending the whole world into craze.
I was really hoping to like it.
Whilst the concept was entertaining enough, there were endless problems with the writing. Huge pacing issues, minimal character development and rather confusing story arcs left me asking myself “wait, what?” far too many times. Also, anyone with a minimal scientific grounding could poke holes in story left, right and centre. The acting was sub-par, which was disappointing considering the talent on display. Only the mildly entertaining special effects – which were kind of ridiculous in itself – made it an acceptable two hours to sit through.
In truth, Transcendence is like fitting a Ferrari without an engine. It’s flashy and pretty, but with nothing to power it home.