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'Transcendence' challenges the bounds of modern technology

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'Transcendence' Movie Review

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Let’s get straight to the point. ‘Transcendence’ starring Johnny Depp is a movie about a man who pushes the boundaries of science until it breakdowns.

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Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him.

However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should.

‘Transcendence’ has an amazing cast of accomplished actors that includes Oscar® nominee Johnny Depp (the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films), Rebecca Hall (‘The Town’), Paul Bettany (‘The Da Vinci Code’), Cillian Murphy (‘Inception’), Kate Mara (‘House of Cards’), Cole Hauser (‘Olympus Has Fallen’), Clifton Collins, Jr. (‘Star Trek’) and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (‘Million Dollar Baby’).

But, this star-studded film gives them little to do. Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall are the power couple who are reduced to her stoically gazing at the love of her life while he wreaks havoc on the universe. While Morgan Freeman seems to be the grandfatherly researcher, (for Pete’s sake he has on a cardigan) who calmly dispenses advice during the ensuing chaos. And Murphy is delegated to a FBI agent with a gun, whiteboard and diagrams.

Even director Wally Pfister chose to use a forum that harks back to times before filmmakers depended on computers to make movies. The look and feel of the motion picture is crisp and clean (you might say sanitary). And it should be, since it was shot on film rather than using the modern technology innovation of digital. Of course, he did succumb to the god of CGI to create the first-rate gigantic high tech scenes because without this modern marvel, it would have been impossible or incredibly expensive to do so.

Yet, we shouldn’t write off ‘Transcendence’ as a failed experiment in social technology. It serves a purpose, if only to remind us that we should be careful what we wish for. It presents the questions for our review, whether technology gives us the right to do as we please just because we have it or does it require us to include moral and ethical outcomes? Because to fail to include them would mean that we as a society we have lost humanity.

‘Transcendence’ is Rated PG-13 with a run time of 130 minutes, it opens in theaters April 18.

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