Film Review – Transcendence
Directed by Wally Pfister
Release Date – April 24th 2014
I love stories that deal with how us humans are grappling with the increasing sophistication of technology and where it’s all leading.
Given that many of us spend all day and all night in front of different screens and most people in the western world seem unable to tear themselves away from their smart phones for more than a few minutes, it’s a theme that becomes more timely by the second.
In Wally Pfister’s debut as director, he’s harnessed a few existing relationships – namely Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy from the Dark Knight trilogy along with Rebecca Hall whom he worked with on the Prestige (my favourite Christopher Nolan film) and attempted to put together a tale of a brilliant scientist who is murdered by evolutionary extremists who seek a world without technology. The thing is, this brilliant scientist has created a technology via artificial intelligence that will allow his brain to be uploaded to a complex computer mainframe so that he may live on in every essence except physical.
It’s here that the story should get interesting.
It reminds me of the wonderful Roald Dahl short story “William and Mary” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_and_Mary_(short_story)) in his macabre anthology “Kiss Kiss”. An dead husband’s eyeball connected to his brain kept alive after death and what his wife chooses to do with it achieves a delicious resolution in the space of a few pages.
Pfister however doesn’t know what story he’s crafting – is he for technology or against it?
His technical skill as a DOP are evident in his resume, however his direction of some first rate actors is a little clumsy and the whole thing fails to come to life, unlike Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) who transitions neatly from awkward genius in the flesh to creepy omnipotent electronic sentient being.
I was so keen to see this and found it enjoyable enough first time round, however in the space of a fortnight I’d almost completely forgotten what happened. The second time I watched it I fell asleep and got annoyed with it’s lack of flow.
Despite its disappointments, it’s a promising start for MR Pfister as an introduction to directing.
2 & ½ Stars.