Movie review: Transcendence (M)

By Kiri Gillespie

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Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, and Rebecca Hall are aided by Johnny Depp's computerised consciousness.
Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, and Rebecca Hall are aided by Johnny Depp's computerised consciousness.

Transcendence is a computer thriller which gives food for thought - what if society's thirst for technology eclipses itself and potentially becomes the beginning of the end of the world as we know it?

Transcendence is a deep, complex and challenging film. It ask the viewer to consider several questions. Can artificial intelligence be created so advanced it actually becomes self-aware? And if so, then what? Where does that computerised evolution end? And at what cost?

At the centre of such a conundrum is world-renowned scientist Dr Will Caster, played by Johnny Depp.

The audience is thrust into the dilemmas when Depp's character is killed when anti-technology protesters plant bombs in some of the world's leading labs.

But Depp's character lives on in an artificial intelligence computer system after his consciousness is uploaded by equally passionate scientist wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany).

Depp's presence in the film after that pivotal moment is mostly a detached head and shoulders that crops up on computer screens stalking his wife as they attempt to explore all the powers available to them now that Caster's intelligence has been magnified 1000-fold.

Together, they build an underground super science-lab capable of disturbing abilities.

Depp's disembodied voice is devoid of much emotion or anything really. It's a shame because Depp usually brings a signature spark and eccentricity to his roles.

There are moments of promise in Transcendence that shine for viewers who might not be so sci-fi inclined. It is a star-studded cast, which includes the wonderful Morgan Freeman.

And the premise of the plot at the heart of it is not actually so far-fetched these days, considering you can order pizza via an app or set the TV to record a programme from your phone.

However, such bright moments seem to be snuffed out as the movie quickly moves into another phase and another level.

Transcendence is not a bad movie but it's not one of the greats. I think anyone who is an avid internet user or who is keen on the latest and greatest gadgets will enjoy the what the movie brings.

Transcendence is a mixed bag and a toughie to review. Fans of Inception and Looper could really enjoy this thriller. But anyone wanting something they don't have to think too hard about might prefer to skip this flick.

Watch the trailer here:

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