Transcendence Review

Transcendence (2014)

bhaskar chanda transcendenceI won’t be the first reviewer to express my disappointment in what could have been a glorious film but ended up a clunker. The directorial debut of the cinematographic genius behind Christopher Nolan’s best work, Transcendence combines an intricate and interesting premise with the proven talents of Johnny Depp, Cillian Murphy, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, and Morgan Freeman and still comes up short. While vastly different tonally, Transcendence is destined to be compared to Spike Jonze’s 2013 film Her, a critical darling, Oscar-nominee, and similar meditation on AI. But where Her was an exercise in control and elegant storytelling, a small but well-made vehicle navigating gracefully through an ocean of big ideas and age-defining questions, Transcendence is a muddled mess, a Titanic of a movie that gets caught in the ice and drowns in its own ambitions. Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, the world-renowned expert on artificial intelligence who hopes to achieve singularity by creating an all-encompassing intelligence in touch with the broad spectrum of human emotion. When he is attacked by Luddite terrorists, his wife (Hall) and best friend (Bettany) attempt to save him by injecting his consciousness into his own experiment, where he becomes all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful. The film is to be commended for attempting to conceive and create a world where these events are possible, but in the end so many opportunities are missed that it’s hard to appreciate the successes achieved. 2.5/5 stars.