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Saturday, 19 April 2014


Transcendence - trɑːnˈsɛnd(ə)ns,tranˈsɛnd(ə)ns nounexistence or experience beyond the normal or physical level
Synonyms       superiority, supremacy, predominance, pre-eminence, ascendancy, incomparability, matchlessness, peerlessness, excellence, greatness, magnificence, sublimity, importance, rareparamountcy

This is the premise on which Wally Pfister’s debut directorial venture is based on.  Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the leading scientist in the field of Artificial Intelligence along with his wife Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall), close friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany) and mentor / teacher Joseph Tagger (Morgan Freeman).

Dr. Caster is responsible for creating the first seemingly viable form of Artificial Intelligence.  It is called Physically Independent Neural Network aka PINN (how creative is that!!!).  However, PINN, like most AIs, doesn’t have emotional capabilities or as they say Self Awareness – which is a tricky question because are we, as humans, self-aware in the first place? (Deep right?).

Anyways, with ever lead, there has to be an opposite who is trying to cause trouble.  In case of Transcendence, that part would be fulfilled by R.I.F.T (again creative right?) – Revolutionary Independence From Technology – whose ethos is built on another deep statement.  Artificial Intelligence is an unnatural abomination and a threat to humanity.  Leading the “resistance” is Bree (Kate Mara).

So, if you can look beyond the slow start and an equally slow narration and you are the kind of geek that gets his / her trips over a whole bunch of “information” and the very thought of watching your mind take over the world wide web and of course several tech acronyms and abbreviations, Transcendence is just the movie for you.

Wall Pfister’s previous experience has been that of the DoP (Oops got too much into the Acronym phase – Director of Photography or Cinematographer) for most Nolan movies including the Dark Knight series.  So there is no question of his DoP capabilities.  However, his directorial capabilities leave a lot to be answered.  There is just too much of tech – I understand it is a SciFi movie but this was information overload.

And if you plan to watch the 10:55 pm show because of the lack of any other options, you need to ensure that you have slept for a good 2 hours before and ensure that you keep all your senses alive.  Otherwise you will leave the hall with one question too many and like a co-writer said, “Feel too overwhelmed by the questions and sleep it off”.

To his credit, Pfister along with writer Jack Pagen are fair in their assessment of AI and its adverse capabilities.  They bring out the fear of the average human being against a system that knows it all.  What they don’t do well is break down the explanation to an understandable level.  The effects are gorgeous and demand a big screen viewing.  Have some patience and you may enjoy it.  6 on 10.

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