Title – Transcendence (2014)
Director – Wally Pfister (feature debut)
Cast – Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Cole Hauser, Clifton Collins Jr
Plot – Scientist Will Caster (Depp) has his consciousness uploaded into an artificial intelligence system by his partner Evelyn Caster (Hall) when he passes away due to a terrorist attack. The implications of this melding of human and machine takes a dangerous route when the lines between who is Will Caster and who is the machine becomes blurred.
“We’re not going to fight them. We’re going to transcend them”
Review by Eddie on
Memento,The Dark Knight trilogy, The Prestige, Inception and Moneyball. There all pretty decent films wouldn’t you say? One thing that all those films had in common is the fact they were all overseen in a D.O.P sense by renowned cinematography Wally Pfister (don’t even try say that last name correctly), Christopher Nolan’s go to cinematographer until his recent upcoming Interstellar. Working with Nolan on his modern day classics would’ve taught you a thing or two about the thinking man’s blockbuster wouldn’t you say? Well sadly with Transcendence, it looks like Wally didn’t listen in class.
Looking to debut his directing career with a sci-fi not dissimilar to the large thinking themes of Inception, Pfister has gone for the knockout straight away and left himself completely exposed to the blows that a weak storyline, shoddy editing and mismanaged performances will deal out. Transcendence looks to delve deep into the modern day tech filled world that is increasingly blurring the lines between what it is to be human and human emotion being overtaken by artificial intelligence. It’s a high end concept and a concept no doubt ripe for exploration yet Pfister doesn’t lay hold on any firm grip of his subject that gets lost in an uninteresting love story, badly played jumps in time and a finale that not only feels rushed but feels horribly underdeveloped, much like the movies performances.
Stealing previous Nolan acting collaborators in the forms of Rebecca Hall (still crying out for a decent role), Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman and Lucas Haas it’s clear that Pfister was able to draw some serious talent to his tale, mix these actors in with Johhny Depp, Paul Bettany and Kate Mara and the recipe was all there to provide one of this year’s most unique and intriguing ensembles. The cast however here is universally terrible, working with material that is clearly underdeveloped the increasingly acting for hire type role by Johnny Depp comes off worse as Will Caster but there is no one staking a claim here for acting honour’s in what is a showcase for Pfister’s inability to draw out commanding performances, something his teacher Nolan has always been able to achieve.
Transcendence has a few neat visual tricks up its sleeve which is to be expected for a man who’s given us some of recent cinemas most iconic imagery but even these flourishes cannot paint over the fact that the film is a complete mish-mash of half cooked ideas, uninteresting dramatics and weak acting efforts. Somewhere deep inside this tale something is waiting to burst to life but this is one startlingly bad debut by a cinematographer that should be on the phone to some of his old mates begging for his job back, as his latest career move looks to have stalled before it really even began.
Half an abnormal raindrop out of 5