2 men 1 movie: ‘Transcendence’ gives viewers complex plot, impressive camera work

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Ethan’s Take:

Technology is advancing every day, and “Transcendence” gives viewers a look into the extremes of where those advancements could go.

If technology is your thing, you might love “Transcendence.” Everyone else will enjoy the beautiful cinematography, assuming they can look past the intricate plot.

Scientist Will Castor (Johnny Depp) is a genius who, among other scientists and programmers, is targeted by a terrorist organization named Rift.

The employers of Rift believes that technological advances are not only destroying human culture but it will eventually destroy humanity as they know it.

It is easy to see how technology is changing the way humans interact and communicate, but the idea of a super computer killing people isn’t an immanent threat. 

A member of Rift shoots Castor with a radioactive bullet, trying to stop his technological research. If radioactive bullets are hard to believe, wait until the story introduces nanorobots, which can rebuild people. Castor survives the initial attack but discovers that he only has about a month to live due to the radiation poisoning in his bloodstream.

On the verge of a scientific breakthrough, Castor’s wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany) decide to download all of Castor’s memories into a super computer, which in theory is supposed to keep his mind alive.

The download seems to work and the computer displays the image of Castor’s face and begins using his voice. The problem is that no one knows whether it is actually Castor or if it is just the computer wanting to expand and take over the world. Apparently the first logical step for a super intelligent computer is to destroy all human life, so the employees of Rift want to stop that from happening.

The story is very intriguing and deep, but at the same time it is confusing. There are so many complexities and details that it is impossible to fully explain the plot.

There is no lack of complexity in the plot of “Transcendence” but there is a distinct lack of action. The movie is just shy of two hours, but it feels like it drags on for days. And the story-to-action ratio is extremely lopsided.

In addition to an interesting, overly complex plot, “Transcendence” has some of the best cinematography since Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” That might not be a coincidence considering “Transcendence” director Wally Pfister was the director of photography for “Inception.”

I give “Transcendence” a B for good cinematography but an unnecessarily complex plot.


Jordan’s Take

As I sit pondering over the two-hour film, “Transcendence,” I can’t help but wonder what the point of the film is, which isn’t a good thing.

I was amazed with the cinematography and acting but wasn’t sure what was going on the entire time. One item of information I wish I had known beforehand was the definition of the word transcendence.

I kept thinking about how similar the effects and angles were to a Christopher Nolan film throughout the whole film. I was surprised to find out he was one of the executive producers on the project.

The film begins fast with little explanation about who Will and Evelyn Caster (Depp and Hall) are. The film continues to add more characters to the plot, which only thickens the confusion because of the lack of explanation and background of how these people know each other.

The extended talk about computer science, programming and physics made it difficult to follow no matter how hard I tried.

When I see Depp in a film, I can’t help but picture him as Jack Sparrow, so I struggle with him and his acting. Hall was great as Depp’s wife and co-architect of the machine.

Bettany and Morgan Freeman, who plays Joseph Tagger, along with Cillian Murphy, who plays Agent Buchanan, make the acting great. Bettany and Freeman play perfectly as two level-headed geniuses who don’t want the computer version of Depp to get too strong.

The cinematography was incredible from the beginning with a shot of a sunflower with water dripping off it. The beautiful scenes continued throughout the film.

I give “Transcendence” a B- because of the lack of explanation within the story. However, the acting and cinematography carried the film.