Transcendence, film review: Johnny Depp's sci-fi transcends bad reviews
(12A) Dir. Wally Pfister; Starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, 119mins
Saturday 26 April 2014
The directorial debut of the cinematographer Wally Pfister is an ambitious, albeit flawed, attempt to dramatise what futurologists call the singularity, but what the screenplay by first-timer Jack Paglen insists on calling "transcendence": the moment when a computer network achieves greater-than-human intelligence. The problem is, the singularity, by definition, is the point in human progress beyond which we can't meaningfully speculate.
Transcendence begins at a TED-style lecture given by husband-and-wife artificial-intelligence researchers Will and Evelyn Caster (Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall). But after terrorist luddites attempt to assassinate Will, and Evelyn uploads his consciousness to the internet, the film rapidly advances into a future distinguished by extraordinary sci-fi nano-technologies and human superpowers.
Stretching the narrative so far so quickly results in a lot of plausibility gaps, and they are inadequately papered over with clunky dialogue and techno-babble ("Oh my God – he's re-writing his own code!"). In fact, it's a far more schlocky sci-fi film than its self-serious tone would suggest. But don't be put off by excessively negative reviews. It's also stylish and entertaining, and treads a fairly well-judged path between paranoia and technological utopianism.
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 3 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 James Foley beheading: Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly annoyed by Ferguson update during broadcast about murdered journalist
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
JK Rowling pens new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing 'Singing Sorceress' Celestina Warbuck
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
American film board gives gay film Love Is Strange R-rating despite no sex or violence
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians