Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Transcendence

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Following radiation poisoning, Will Caster has just weeks to live. His partner Evelyn would do anything to save him – including ‘uploading’ his consciousness to a computer system after his death.

Poor Evelyn. She shouldn’t have tampered with nature. Because nature is about to get its own back. And the results will be cataclysmic…

 

 

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Cast

Rebecca Hall – Evelyn Caster

Johnny Depp – Will Caster

Paul Bettany – Max Waters

Cillian Murphy – Agent Buchanan

Kate Mara – Bree

Morgan Freeman – Joseph Tagger

 

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That was actually rather good.

Transcendence wasn’t incredible, but it kept me entertained for its entirety and I found it very watchable.
Its concept is to be applauded, and was the main element that kept me hooked throughout.
Simplistic in its approach yet thought-provoking, Transcendence flowed nicely – beginning where the carnage finished, then going back to when it began, and delivering the story without interruption.
It was a fascinating tale.

..but surely it had its flaws?

Did Johnny fail to deliver?
Was Rebecca enough to carry the lead role?
Did Morgan Freeman manage to pass for entertaining for once?..

 

TRANSCENDENCE

 

Is Anyone There?

The most important and intriguing scene of the entire movie was ‘the upload’ process.

As Evelyn sits in front of her cluster of computers having ‘uploaded’ Will to a mainframe, the computer screens flicker but show no signs of life. Max pulls her away and the power button is hit, shutting it all down. However, a split-second before a screen switches off, the words IS ANYONE THERE appear..

..me and the friend I went to see this with both turned and gasped at each other.

Already the surprises were happening, and they were good. But this pivotal scene of Transcendence was important as well as effective; blending an array of emotions (hope, desperation, relief, sadness, joy) with a nail-biting “will he? won’t he?” situation.
Keep your eyes on the screen during this scene though, it all happens quite quickly. As the movie continues Will returns to the world as a hologram of his former self, his subconscious mind fully active and engrained into its own system. But like with many susceptible computer programmes (A-HEM, Windows – shit) his return comes with complications far worse than a trojan horse..

 

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Very Watchable

I can honestly say, I found Transcendence to be one of the better sci-fi thrillers I’ve seen across the years. From its opening and across its screen time until the credits rolled, my eyes were on the screen constantly. It is very watchable, jumping into the story immediately and delivering a fast-paced thriller without any ‘dragged-out’ bits. An added element was the story of how Evelyn and a computerised Will transform human history by using their super-evolved machinery to save lives, fizzle out people’s disabilities, rebuild cells using nanotechnology..

This is just a minor undercurrent in the movie however, because the pair have bigger things to handle. The Revelutionary Indpendence From Technology group (R.I.F.T.) know that what Evelyn has done – uploading Will and ‘helping’ the planet – is the biggest mistake of mankind. An abomination which could destroy the world rather than save it. Hot on their tail, R.I.F.T. led by Bree (Kate Mara) are stationed near the Brightwood Data Center – guns raised, and ready to stop Evelyn and Will for good.

Except they may face gobsmacking obstacles in the process…

As I said, my eyes were firmly fixed on the screen for a good 116 minutes. What is supposed to happen happens, and Transcendence delivers non-stop action from curtain up to curtain down. It was a great ride.

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Special Effects & Graphics

In a word: believable.

Although it seemed like a basic computer display, the build-up to Will’s regeneration was quite effective. Flickering screens, whizzing data, images – they all added to the atmosphere nicely, building up to the sudden appearance of his image: a head, suspended in mid-air cyber space.
It was actually kind of haunting, hearing Will’s voice (considering he’s dead) buzzing into life all distorted, with a handful of his memories on screen. And the tears shed by Rebecca pushed the atmosphere to its limits.

Further into the movie when Will is able to adapt himself, the image of his head becomes a full-screen lifelike animation – which may have literally been Johnny sat in a studio talking to a camera – but the more I got involved in the movie, the more fascinating it became. If only Evelyn could switch off the screen and recreate Will in human form…

As the pair get to work on rebuilding cells, we are treated to some incredible sights. A tray of withered, brown plants are suddenly brought back to life as they uncurl, un-bend and return to their natural live state.

A blind man is poked – literally – in the eye as a simple machine scratches his eyeball, restoring the broken cells / veins.

His eyeball churns with a netted ink, which then clears to reveal a bright shiny new eye (if you’re squeamish, you may want to look away as the machine approaches the man – the girl sat in front of me flinched out of her seat).

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A computer virus is made visual at one point; fuck trojan horses – this stuff is dangerous. People are crept up on by a slithering mass – and when it reaches them, it wraps itself around the person like some sort of vine growing on a garden trellis. Thing is, it won’t stop growing.. can they manage to shut the virus down before it engulfs everything in its path?…

One of Will’s many talents is regeneration; so imagine the consequences of the Brightwood Data Center coming under attack.. as shown in the trailer, the base is near-destroyed at one stage – only to begin rebuilding itself quickly and effectively. Shattered solar panels and chunks of metal begin to levitate into the air, picking themselves up and then reversing their breakage until they have reformed back into their normal state. I loved this scene – and all other scenes that included regeneration. The fluidity of graphics was crystal clear and happened so swiftly that it added a slight ‘space age’ feel to the feature.

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The graphics are to be applauded.

I liked the part where Will phones Evelyn – it appears on her iPhone screen as ‘BLOCKED’ – the classic unknown caller. Yet it turns out to be him, having accessed all details he possibly can.
Brilliant if slightly sinister concept there.

 

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“I Can See Everything”

..a line uttered by Evelyn as Will reaches out and shares the data of himself with her. As her face began to throb with jet-black veins and she said this, I was immediately reminded of that episode of Doctor Who where Rose absorbs the TARDIS and becomes a window to the universe. These sorts of scenarios fascinate me, and Transcendence delivered a nice story with it.

The only downside was the danger Evelyn was in..

 

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Sad

Transcendence is laced with an undercurrent of sadness. The whole concept of losing someone you love and laying them to rest – but desperately wanting them back. The issue is, Evelyn does get him back but at a price. And the sad thing is, its mot the same as they were before. At one point, she cries out, “you’re not HERE with me!” – which yanked at my heart strings a little; I mean how many people would give anything to hold a deceased love / relative again.. Evelyn has it – yet she doesn’t.

Transcendence isn’t just a “wow, they made that man a computer” movie. It’s not just another sci-fi hit. It actually flows with a feeling of sadness in the background, which blends together well with the storyline.

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Shutting Down The Internet

The question of whether or not to close the entire Internet arises during the movie. Another element which I found fascinating.
Will has been ‘uploaded’ and requires more power, more knowledge to be able to expand.
At the same time, R.I.F.T. are racing against the clock to stop him before some serious danger unfolds.
And it is at this point someone mentions the only way to stop him is to shut down the entire Internet.

Christ, could you imagine?!..

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Transcendence was brilliantly different, dynamic.
Its overall concept of bringing someone back to life by ‘uploading’ their conscious was a refreshing change to the usual Hollywood tripe dreamed up by directors.
I found this movie very watchable and fluid – delivering a movie BANG, BANG, BANG, no dragged-out or dreary parts.

Its thought-provoking storyline highlights the classic feeling of longing, aching to be with someone who has passed – which mixed with some incredible sci-fi makes for compelling viewing.
I felt intrigued yet saddened by the story.
I could relate, yet couldn’t relate at all.

A proper little gem which would slide into the ‘cult’ genre nicely, Transcendence is definitely worth a watch – I would recommend it to anyone.

 

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7/10

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This entry was posted on April 19, 2014 by .
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