Movie Review: TRANSCENDENCE.
Director: Wally Pfister.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy and Morgan Freeman.
As Dr. Will Caster works toward his goal of creating an omniscient, sentient machine, a radical anti-technology organization fights to prevent him from establishing a world where computers can transcend the abilities of the human brain.
Transcendence is the new science fiction thriller starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall and many others and is directed by Wally Pfister. Wally Pfister is a very famous cinematographer who won an Academy Award for his cinematography on Christopher Nolan's Inception. This is Wally Pfister's directorial debut...so how did he do?
I can honestly say that this is the biggest disappointment of 2014 so far. I was incredibly bored during this movie. And that's a real shame because it has a stellar cast, a thought provoking premise and a fantastic trailer!
For months I had been excited for this film. From the director to the cast and when I saw the trailer I was really looking forward to it. I thought we were going to be getting a modern science fiction thriller to rival Inception. But what we got instead was a complicated, boring and uninteresting film that wasted a great movie idea.
The film is really about the relationship between Will (Depp) and Evelyn Caster (Hall). Will and Evelyn are working to create a super advanced Artificial Intelligence, they are working so hard to create a technological breakthrough, the team are so close to doing this and then Will is shot by a member of RIFT that are trying to prevent Will's ideas from becoming reality. As Will is dying, Max (Bettany) and Evelyn (Hall) decide to upload Will's consciousness to a super computer to try and save him. When they succeed in saving Will, things take a turn for the worst as Will begins to control almost everything connected to the internet.
The idea for the movie sound fascinating and sounds like it can make for an absolutely great movie! This had so much potential but Transcendence is a bad film. I don't take great pleasure in saying that because this was a film that I was looking forward to a lot!
The characters in this film are completely uninteresting and lifeless which is a shame because you can see that the actors are really trying, especially Rebecca Hall (The Town) and Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind) who I thought were good in the movie but they didn't have a lot to work with. It is nice to see a more normal character from Johnny Depp (Pirates Of The Caribbean) because in recent years I have not been a fan of his performances and here is no exception because you can tell he is trying to give a more reserved performance but the character is so uninteresting that he just comes off as flat and bored. Kate Mara (House Of Cards) plays the leader of RIFT and I am becoming a big fan of her because of House Of Cards but here she isn't anything special at all, her character is totally forgettable and her character and the whole RIFT organisation could have been so well done but they ultimately felt pointless. Cillian Murphy (Inception) and Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight) show up for a couple of scenes and they're basically because of the films connection to Christopher Nolan who is an executive producer on the film.
The idea of uploading Will's mind to a computer is very interesting but he doesn't really do anything with it. This could have been a movie on how technology takes over the world but what he does is put extra money in his wife's bank account and heal some people but none of that is done in an interesting way. The film feels lifeless, I didn't feel any connection to the characters and there was no emotion, I actually felt that the trailer had more of an emotional pull than the actual film did. There was no tension at all, not for one second did I feel like there was a threat, because I didn't care about anything in this movie! From 5 minutes into this movie until the credits rolled, I was so bored. I couldn't sit still in my seat, I kept thinking "when is this going to end?" and those are the last things you want to do when watching a movie. The movie is only 2 hours long! That should fly by but this felt like it was going on FOREVER!
The idea of A.I becoming self aware and gaining control is a terrifying idea, humanity becoming slaves to the thing it created! That should be really tense and scary but I just didn't care! In movies like Terminator, A.I becomes too powerful and there is a war between man and machine, simple idea, done to perfection! In this film, the idea feels so much more complex than that but they just go about telling it the completely wrong way! If this movie was actually good, I would be so happy to see a sequel because the idea is so interesting and you can do so much with it but the movie is done so horribly that I never want to watch this movie again!
The movie is so slow, there is one action scene in the entire movie that lasts for about 2 minutes which was obviously just placed there to try and excite the audience a bit but even that was boring! The finale attempts to be explosive and dramatic but because the characters are just so flat I didn't care what the hell happened to them. Everyone could have died in the movie and I wouldn't have cared....at all.
Wally Pfister comes from a background of cinematography, he is just wonderful at that and I respect him very much for his work. But surely this movie is telling him and studios that he should stick with his job as a D.O.P because judging by this movie alone....he cannot direct. He obviously hasn't paid enough attention to Christopher Nolan when he's been working with him because Nolan is one of the best directors working today and surely you would think his Director Of Photography would have learned something by working with him, but no...not at all! I didn't even think the cinematography in this movie was good, the lighting was very dim and there were so many shadowy faces and the picture didn't look crisp. If Wally Pfister had done the cinematography for this movie and perhaps someone like Nolan had directed it, the movie could have been something so special but that chance has now gone.
The tone in this movie is so unclear, is it supposed to be an intimate drama about Will and Evelyn's relationship or is it an explosive science fiction thriller? I really don't know what they were going for here. The movie is paced horribly, the first half of this movie is slow and then it immediately tries to move faster and I was so confused. The screenplay for the movie was not good, the dialogue was too technical, I even heard people in my audience going "what does that mean?", "what are they doing?", because throughout the movie you're not actually sure what people's goals or motives are.
My favorite parts of the movie were definitely Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany, two incredibly good actors who are really trying in this movie and they do give as good as a performance as they can and sometimes I could see a litter glimmer of hope that I might actually end up caring for their characters but ultimately I didn't care what happened to them. I felt like the only character that developed through the movie was Bettany's, he does realize that Will's ideas and beliefs are wrong and dangerous and he tries to stop them.
The movie was trying and I must give it merit for that because making a film is very hard but it's a terrible shame that all this talent and a fantastic idea were wasted. I can't recommend this movie at all, I do recommend that you go and see something else instead because this is an utterly boring and uninteresting film that will leave you unsatisfied. It has a very interesting idea, the actors were trying but the film failed. I'm going to give TRANSCENDENCE a D+.