Friday, May 2, 2014

Transcendence Review

Ugggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh......... 2014 so far has no been a great year for movies. There have been far more crappier movies released this year than good movies, and it's to the point where I'm severely doubting if any upcoming movies are going to be good. I'm looking forward to Maleficent, but given the pace this year is going, I'm fully expecting it to be disappointing. Is that right? Of course not. I want to go into a movie fully expecting it to be great and blow me away, but so many movies have just been so bad that it's wearing down my resistances. Take in point, Transcendence, or in other words, the movie that nearly broke me. Nearly.
Transcendence follows Dr. Will Caster, played by Johnny Depp, who is an AI scientist who is under attack by a terrorist organization called R.I.F.T, who want to prevent the development of future technology because... Skynet I guess could happen. R.I.F.T is able to shoot Dr. Caster with irradiated bullets (which sounds really technologically advanced if you ask me), which causes him to get cancer and slowly die, so his wife and his best friend decide together to upload his mind onto a supercomputer to keep him alive in a sense. However, once uploaded, the question remains of how much of Dr. Will Caster is alive in the computer, if any part of him remains at all? Is he really in there, or does the computer think it's Dr. Will Caster?

This... is actually a pretty good premise. It's stupid for how the movie gets to that point, but it's still a good idea. Is Dr. Caster more machine than man, or more man than machine. If the movie was solely based around that idea and was more of an ethical argument about keeping a man alive through data, then I could buy it and it'd be a pretty good movie. Yes I said it, it could have been a damned good movie. Instead, I want to tell you about a phrase that's very popular online. It's called "jumping the shark". "Jumping the shark" is when something so stupid and over the top happens that you can't take the movie seriously anymore. Your suspension of disbelief is broken, and you instantly lose whatever commitment you had in the movie. 

Johnny Depp is now a Digimon. That's not as cool as it sounds
Transcendence is a movie built around jumping the shark. It does something stupid, then does even stupider things, and it just keeps building and building until it reaches a ludicrous and stupid climax that's so stupid that I was face palming in the theatre. It's mostly because Transcendence goes to the school of "it's super science, so we don't have to explain anything!" Apparently, in this movie, Johnny Depp becomes so advanced of a computer that he can cure blind people, purify water, control the weather, control humans he's helped, give them super strength and regenerative abilities, and create weird techo tentacles and fix anything they touches on a molecular level. If even one of those things sound completely unbelievable, then you're not alone. 

But not only that, the movies paints scientists as evil people if they don't go unchecked. Dr. Caster, once uploaded, becomes megalomaniacal and wants to help the world by essentially becoming God, and it's up to the people who are against technology to stop him. I'm sorry, but technology has done so much for our lives that the idea that scientists are evil just seems a bit too ridiculous now. Back in the days of old cinema, mad scientists were the atypical villains because we knew just how evil they were. They weren't ambiguous with their goals or motives, they were insane and were obviously evil. When making an "intelligent" movie with a mad scientist, moral debates can arise that can lead to interesting avenues. In this movie, they paint the man who wants to help society, who should righteously be a sympathetic character, as unabashedly evil and deserves to be destroyed. Because of that, all of the good work that the character has done is now painted as evil, even leading up to when it looks like he's just going to become Skynet and needs to be killed. 

Pretty sure no one has any brains in this movie
The supporting cast doesn't fair any better though. The most egregious character in this movie undeniably Dr. Caster's wife, who is so blind to the fact that her husband may be a cybernetic monstrosity that she'll do whatever he says. Connect me online? Sure thing honey! Build me a giant lab with worked? You go it sweetie! Do whatever I say because I look like your husband? Why wouldn't I! You want to hit her for how dumb of a character she is and how moronic she is. Even at the very end when she knows that he's raising an army of hybrid humans, she's still on his side saying that no one understands him. It's so rare to see a character this stupid in movies, but here you go.

Everything else about the movie though is so run of the mill that it's hardly worth talking about. People speak science jargon that hand waves over what's actually going on, and the conclusion doesn't even make a lick of sense if you know thing one about technology or science in general. I'm just done with this movie. It had such a nice premise to it that could have been a good psychological piece about the nature of human consciousness, but instead it's just a stupid scifi movie that is pretentious as all hell. It tries to say deep and meaningful statements about humanity and where technology will take us, but it doesn't make any sense. This whole movie just makes no sense! 

I'm dead set on writing 2014 as a bad year for movies just based on this movie alone. This movie stands for interesting ideas and premises that are completely wasted and turn into stupid, uninteresting piles of mush for mass consumption. There's no flavor, there's no texture, it's all just mush and paste for people to be spoon fed. The same happened for Nymphomaniac, and I'm sure it'll be the same for Amazing Spider-Man 2 when I review next, but can I finally get something good to review on here? Like, more 4's and 5's than 2's and 1's? I give Transcendence a 2 out of 5 stars, and I hope I never have to see it again.


If Johnny Depp is Skynet, consider me disappointed. 

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