Big Screen :: Transcendence

April 24th 2014



Watching bad movies is a necessary part of this gig, but its been a good long while since I have seen something stink up the joint like Transcendence. This is a movie about computers that feels like it was written and performed by people who know nothing about them. If I wrote a movie about those dancing horses at the Olympics it would feel about as credible as this one does.


This is the type of film where a terrorist organisation assassinates Johnny Depp not by shooting him in the head, but by shooting him somewhere that seems to leave him almost unharmed but lacing the bullet with polonium that will kill him but give him enough time to load himself into a computer first. Even though this super-powered Depp computer man can and will cure world hunger and disease it’s still bad. I think because it will make us all zombies but I am not certain. The movie doesn’t really bother to establish its stakes. What I am certain of is that Johnny Depp took this role because they wrote him a bazillion dollar cheque even though he is a disembodied head on a screen for most of the movie and he probably shot half of his scenes facing a camera while sitting on a golden toilet on his private island. Even so, he looks spectacularly bored.

The only person more confused and irritated by this movie than me appears to be Morgan Freeman, who looks baffled every second he is on screen. Probably trying to figure out why he is here, his character literally serves no purpose at all. These sorts of characters are always a good sign of an under-cooked screenplay. Another big pointer is that people are constantly telling each other and the audience what is happening in the movie because the plot is just so stupid and the film so poorly pieced together that we wouldn’t follow it without a running commentary. To be honest though, I still didn’t really follow it.

From the moment Depp ends up in the computer everything about the movie feels wildly implausible, particularly when the anti technology terrorists and some sort of government agents inexplicably teaming up to dig pointless tunnels towards a desert computer lab full of Johnny Depp powered rednecks. It’s also not a spoiler to say that the whole thing ends with humanity sent back to the Stone Age because the movie opens by telling us this, robbing the film of all tension. Why why why would you do that?

Transcendence is the directorial debut of Christopher Nolan‘s preferred Cinematographer, the excellently named Wally Pfister, and it has already been a huge disaster over in the states. For good reason too. It’s terrible.


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