Review: Transcendence (2014)

Favorite Quote:

“My wife has always been eager to change the world. But I’ll just settle for understanding it first.” – Will Caster

In Transcendence Johnny Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, a scientist studying artificial intelligence. After presenting his ideas for a smarter artificial intelligence, Dr. Caster is shot by a member of an anti-technology extremist group known as R.I.F.T (Revolutionary Independence From Technology). Facing certain death,Will Caster uploads his consciousness onto his cutting edge artificial intelligence program. This initiates a spiral of events that poses a threat to all of humanity.

Johnny Depp is complemented by a slew of other fantastic actors such as: Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), Paul Bettany (Iron Man), and Rebecca Hall (The Prestige). Those four names are just a sample of the acting ability in this star-studded feature film. The casting department should really be acknowledged for this movie. All of the actors/actresses play their characters beautifully, but this brings me to my biggest disappointment.

I absolutely loved all of the characters, but all of the relationships between them needed to be further explored. I found myself wanting to know more about every person: their history, their personal lives, and everything about how they met. They have all of these very compelling characters, but not enough back-story to satisfy my interest in a single movie. Which is why I believe it should have been created as a television series instead of a movie. This one thing that they were lacking is exactly what TV series are best at doing. The series would provide enough time to tell everything that was left out of the 119 minute film. By no means am I saying this movie is a victim of poor writing, but it could have fared better as a television series.

Transcendence is director Wally Pfister’s first movie in his newly launched directing career. The directing was very well done, which is what I expected from someone who worked so closely with Christopher Nolan in all of the Dark Knight movies. He is also aided by the film’s cinematographer, Jess Hall. The movie’s notable camera pans do an excellent job progressing the story, while also stirring the audience’s interest in the scene. The only complaint I have with the cinematography is the few scenes that appear too dark, and therefore become distracting to the viewer.

Composer Mychael Danna directs the films score, which is excellent. He has received numerous awards for his scores over the years (many from his work in Life of Pi), and I feel this is some of his best work as well. The score consists of dramatic notes that attracts the audience and adds to the overall tone of the film.

Transcendence undoubtedly has its flaws coming from some elements of script writing, but it is a movie I can certainly recommend. It provides an outstanding and fairly original plot, along with some of Hollywood’s most beloved actors as the film’s key characters. This is a fantastic choice for a movie night with friends.



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Michael Kirksey Jr

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