Transcendence is a sci-fi movie dealing with the emergence of self-aware Artificial Intelligence (AI), from first-time director Wally Pfister (but long-time accomplished cinematographer, particularly of Christopher Nolan films). Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall portray a husband and wife team on the edge of exploring new areas of AI, science and nano-technology. The are joined by supporting actors of high calibre – Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy and Kate Mara.

Rebecca Hall gets better with every performance and she is the true star of this film. Her character is driven to complete her husband’s work, even when she thinks the line of morality may have crossed. Indeed, for much of the movie the viewer is challenged to decide who they think is doing the right thing. This is the real strength of the film.

For everything positive in this movie, there also seems to be a negative. I like the area this story explores, as the morality of artificial intelligence is something this planet will need to deal with in the near-future. However, I’m not sure if a “chase movie” is particularly the right method in which to go. Also, there are several frustrating gaps in the film’s time-line, and I’ve grown tired of a movie (or video game or comic book, for that matter) which opens with “the ending” of the tale. It’s a cheat. It’s lazy. It immediately robs the film of surprise.

Visually it’s a nice looking film but I actually expected more innovation from this cinematographer become director. Though, the music by Mychael Danna is typically superb and really enhances the movie experience.

I was not let down by Transcendence, but I do “feel” it was capable of more. Maybe that’s what it lacks? An emotional connection. Feeling. Feels.

Score: 7 out of 10.


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