Transcendence - Has man always been trying to create God? 2.25 stars

Johnny Depp has become one of the most recognised actors in Hollywood. A regular in the world of Tim Burton and part of the prolonged 'Pirates of the Caribbean' series. In 'Transcendence', he moves into a different realm, a normal bloke in an extraordinary situation. Wally Pfister takes the helm of this film as the director after being credited with helping Christopher Nolan create the worlds of The Dark Knight and Inception. How did both do in their venture together? 

The story of Dr. Will Caster striving to creating a god-like machine with the characteristics of sentient and omniscience. Then a twist of story, finds his own mind being uploaded into the computer. Caster and his team have to wrestle with the power that he is able to access and ethical situations it presents. How far should technology go? What would anyone do with absolute power? 

Walking into the cinema...

A new director and an eccentric actor combine to make a film about an altered state of being. It has the potential be a disaster or brilliant. What type of film was it in the end? 

Direction, Acting & Storyline: 2 stars
The film was created from a strange combination of previous films like Source Code and Her. A love story woven into environmentalist science fiction, a touch of technology fear and finally a hint of spiritualism. Wally Pfister is a new director who known for his cinematography abilities in many of Christopher Nolan's films. It is too bad he did not take a crack at directing on a smaller scale and with a smaller budget. You can see he had a vision for the film, but it seemed the vision seems to blur as production continued. 

Transcendence has the potential to be a great story, but the inconsistent direction gives us a difficult timeline and muddled. The timely consideration of the impact of technology on our world plays on the fears of most people. To upload someone into a super computer is believable and worth evaluating. Yet, the difficulty Pfister seems to have is what part of the story he wants to tell. The philosophical, the theological, the scientific or the human interest parts, they are all there, but they get confused as the film progresses. This seems to be typical Nolan styling at first, but then it comes off as just confusion on the part of the director.  

Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall and Morgan Freeman hold the film together through their roles, but the pacing of the film causes all of the roles to seem sterile and two-dimensional.  Pfister seems to be trying too much in the film and concludes with too many unexplained plot points to make things believable. A film about transcendence, but it seems to lose its way. 

Visual Effects:  2 stars
Wally Pfister has the credentials to make this portion of the film work, but misses. The same problem he had with the storyline, he has with the cinematography. Pfister does not seem to know what type of film he was making. The cinematography and effects start in an art-house style, but then strives to be a blockbuster action film. The disjointed feel of the visual effects continue throughout the film.

Family Component: 3 stars
This film deals with adult themes and would be recommended for mature audiences, but overall the film has minimal objectionable material. There is little foul language or sexual content. The violence level does increase throughout the film, but helps to the story. Sadly, this is one of the few items that work well in the film. 

God Component: 2 stars
I wanted this film to be better quality production, so more people would 'plug in' to it. The references to God and illusions to Jesus in this film open the door to a multitude of discussions. There will be plenty of discussions in film and theology courses due to Pfister's work, but the problems with this film will minimise people seeing it. If you have the opportunity to watch this film, I would recommend a discussion afterwards on God and transcendence. What is the problem with the idea of technology and man determining write and wrong? Also, does mankind know best or is there something beyond ourselves that determines right and wrong? 

Leaving the cinema...
A film about Transcendence which had so much potential, but ends up with many limitations. It had the potential for a greatness but fails because of its creator. 

Overall Rating: 2.25 stars

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews