17 April 2014 | alanclarke714
A Good Effort from Pfister That's Sadly Underdeveloped
Transcendence is Wally Pfister's directorial debut about Dr. Will Caster, who has his mind transferred into the largest supercomputer on the face of the planet after he is shot by an anti-AI activist at a conference. But, as Will begins to grow and expand, can his wife Evelyn and Will's friends stop him before the Will they knew is completely gone?
I find it truly pathetic how many people are hating on this movie, and for some of the wrong reasons. I did go into this movie with high expectations and was disappointed, but there was still a lot to salvage from that was good. But first thing's first: the bad. Transcendence has a fantastic story and great concepts, but the way it was delivered and structured was incredibly poor and muddled. If you split the film in half instead of thirds, the second half of the film is incredible and ends how it should, but the first half suffers from time gaps, some left out character development and poor pacing. But, this is really all that's bad.
The decent but disappointing aspects of the film are the ideas. The film pitches grand and epic thoughts that grow, but the ideas it preaches are never fully realized, at least the majority of them. Then, the script by Jack Paglen suffered from inconsistencies and random plot elements that did not really need to be there, or should have been examined further (like RIFT).
Now, the good and great. Wally's direction was superb; he really knew what he was doing after working with Christopher Nolan for so long. Pfister's style and unique eye helped save this movie from being a total disaster, especially when it came to the action, the way the camera moved with the scene and the characters or just the environment itself. The acting was great, too, especially Paul Bettany in the supporting role as Max, Will and Evelyn Caster's friend and fellow scientist. He brought heart and emotion from the other side of the spectrum, having an objective and subjective eye on the situation, with the other (completely subjective) side being from Evelyn's point of view. Rebecca Hall was great as Evelyn, a researcher clouded by her love for Will, and challenged in deciding whether or not the thing Will says he is, is actually Will or not. Johnny Depp was good, but it wasn't until the end of the film when the audience feels emotionally attached to him, as he's usually an emotionless AI, projected on screens and glass. The visual effects were top-notch and some of the best of the year hands-down, and the musical score by Mychael Danna was haunting, beautiful and intense when it needed to be.
Transcendence is an actually good movie that deserves more credit than the immense crap it's getting. And to those who keep comparing it to the B-movie "Lawnmower Man," it's different. Sure, there are brief similarities (melding man with machine), but that's it. It's an original take on the "technology-will-destroy-humanity" cautionary tale, and it's a disturbing one that does have some hopeful (and resonating) humanity after the mayhem and chaos has settled. I hope Wally Pfister gets to tackle another big sci-fi film, but one with a different, more experienced writer.