Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Johnny Depp as Will Caster
Rebecca Hall as Evelyn Caster
Paul Bettany as Max Waters
Kate Mara as Bree
Cillian Murphy as Donald Buchanan
Cole Hauser as Stevens
Morgan Freeman as Joseph Tagger
Director: Wally Pfister
Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), the world’s foremost authority on artificial intelligence, is conducting highly controversial experiments to create a sentient machine. When extremists try to kill the doctor, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed. Will’s wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), and best friend, Max (Paul Bettany), can only watch as his thirst for knowledge evolves to an omnipresent quest for power, and his loved ones soon realize that it may be impossible to stop him.
I remember looking forward to seeing Transcendence after seeing all the trailers. It had an interesting concept, a very talented cast and was directed by Christopher Nolan’s frequent cinematographer Wally Pfister. It’s just such a shame that all the talent involved never ended up amounting to anything. Transcendence isn’t an awful movie, it has some okay parts to it, it looks good and some of the acting is okay, that’s it. On the whole, it movie is just disappointing and mediocre.
There’s a huge amount of potential with this concept. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really do anything too much with it. It actually takes quite a while to get to the actual transcendence. It doesn’t help that once things get going, there’s a 2 year jump for no reason at all, after that point the movie really took a significant drop in quality. It is worth noting that despite the marketing, Transcendence isn’t a huge sci-fi thriller. That way if you end up watching the movie, you won’t be as disappointed with it. I heard this mentioned before going into it, so I wasn’t expecting the movie that was advertised, I was just going in expecting a movie and even then I was let down. It seems that it was more focused around the lead two characters played by Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall and their relationship. That’s not a problem, it’s just the relationship and characters aren’t as interesting as it should be, you’re not that invested. There isn’t much character development except for maybe Paul Bettany’s character. The movie really wasn’t as interesting as it should’ve been either. Some aspects of the movie are interesting like the actual transcendence, other aspects just feel like typical sci-fi aspects that were just thrown in. It might have its moments but Transcendence on the whole doesn’t do enough special things to warrant grinding through the whole 2 hour long movie (which feels a lot longer actually watching it).
This cast is pretty large and talented but most of them don’t really get to do anything that great. Johnny Depp is the lead character who goes through the transcendence and he wasn’t really that great, though this time I don’t think it’s on Depp. It’s not that Johnny Depp going full Jack Sparrow or anything like that. It’s that his character really doesn’t do much, even after the transcendence. He should be really interesting, compelling or something like that, but he’s just boring. Rebecca Hall has even less to do here. As I said, a lot of the movie surrounds Depp’s and Hall’s relationship but the chemistry between them wasn’t great and the relationship isn’t that compelling or interesting, so I felt ultimately nothing in their numerous scenes together. Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy are fine enough but their characters aren’t really anything, so they are pretty much just playing themselves. Kate Mara is decent enough but the only actor in this movie who actually leaves a real strong impression was Paul Bettany, he was legitimately good in his role and his performance does actually add to the movie and make it a little better.
One of the highlights of Transcendence is that it is a good looking movie, this movie is shot very well. However, it’s nothing really that different from any other sci-fi movies that we’ve seen. The problem isn’t the direction. If I saw any scene out of context by itself, I would probably find it decent, but the fact that the movie looks good isn’t enough to carry it with it’s rather flawed story, characters and script.
I will say this about Transcendence, it is one of those movies that should be remade, this concept sounds like it could be something great. I’m completely lost as to why this movie didn’t work at all. I didn’t find it to be a terrible movie but it’s also not really good either. It looks good, it has some story aspects which had potential and the acting is fine enough (though only a couple actors are used to their potential), however the end product really didn’t live up to its potential. I guess there’s not harm in checking it out if you’re curious, but don’t expect anything too great.