“Transcendence” transcends its genre of routine science fiction

By Krystal Lau,

The onslaught of science fiction genre films has brought a rare gem in the form of “Transcendence”. Starring Johnny Depp as power-hungry scientist, Will Caster, Rebecca Hall as the love blinded Evelyn Caster and Paul Bettany as the constantly reasoning Max Waters, the film holds a variety of characters that continue to shock and stun as it progresses.

The movie begins with the forlorn story of a talented and promising scientist completely and happily married to his adoring wife. The setback? He’s terminally ill. Will Caster faces the end of his days on earth with chagrin and acceptance, and he vows to spend his numbered hours with Evelyn Caster. Evelyn, refusing to accept her lover’s demise, seeks to find a way to prevent his death- through an advanced futuristic intelligence machine that can capture and save Will’s brain and essentially, his soul, in a program. And yet the power of this artificial intelligence can swarm and overwhelm even the originally pure mind of Will, causing him to lust for more power and seek what he should not try to attain.

Switching between snapshots of tranquil rivers and forests to harsh metal surfaces and abandoned warehouses- Transcendence holds the impression of a jarred record player. Eerie synth music interspaced between uplifting symphonic orchestras set the tone for a constantly changing film: one in which the audience can never settle down. The script does not leave enough leeway for its characters to settle into a rut; the film’s originality shines while the twisting script may sometimes bewilder moviegoers.

The director, Wally Pfister, chooses to often stun his audience with extremely fast interlocking scenes between camera pans of broken wires, mathematical equations and bloody doctor scrubs to scenic rural country homes and placid lakes. The whole movie is set against Will’s omnipresent face- giving the audience the impression that he is always watching. Depp sulks and broods through his character, his eyes sunken into a ghostly face that seems to have already passed away. His counterpart played by Rebecca Hall, comes across as weak-willed and dull; her juxtaposition to Depp leaves her looking foolish and shallow.

The ominous development of the question of heroism in the protagonist advances the movie along nicely. Ending with a surprising and unexpected plot twist, the audience can expect to be entertained. With a strong protagonist and script full of creativity, the movie is well developed, if not a bit too confusing.

Johnny Depp in Transcendence. Photo: Warner Bros.
Johnny Depp in Transcendence. Photo: Warner Bros.

One thought on ““Transcendence” transcends its genre of routine science fiction

  • April 21, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    Does anyone happen to know the name of the song played twice on a record player during this film (a romantic ballad)? TIA

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