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'Transcendence' drags a lot more than it transcends

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Dr. Will Caster and his wife Evelyn have spent years working toward the creation of a sentient artificial intelligence. Just as they are on the verge of making a radical breakthrough, a band of anti-technology extremists stage an attack which threatens Will Caster's life. In an attempt to save Will's life, Evelyn transfers his mind into a computer. Despite what appears to have been a success, Evelyn and many others have their doubts about the intelligence born of Will Caster's mind. As the intelligence grows, Evelyn and the government struggle to comprehend the nature of an evolving intelligence.

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Directed by Wally Pfister and written by Jack Paglen, "Transcendence" addresses several issues, which mankind has struggled with since the mechanization of industry began. It also poses questions about our right to create intelligent machines and the possible ramifications of mixing man with machine. While it asks a lot of relevant questions about our tech dependent society, very few are answered. It may be unreasonable to expect a movie to answer those questions, but it isn't unreasonable for the film to pose its questions in an interesting fashion. With a solid foundation, supported by Johnny Depp (Will), Rebecca Hall (Evelyn), Paul Bettany (Max), and Morgan Freeman (Joseph), "Transcendence" has the talent and star power to get the job done. Unfortunately, just as the sci-fi fantastic elements of the story kick in, the plot devolves into a "Lawnmower Man" ripoff, with shades of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Ultimately, the movie has great actors and starts off with a familiar, but good concept. Unfortunately, it turns into an effects film, driven by irrational fear, paranoia, and the desire to blow things up. Despite the talent attached to the film, they are definitely under utilized in this very predictable, high-tech, apocalyptic tale of a girl and her all powerful computer intelligence. "Transcendence" is a good rental, on a day when you're out of things to read, and there are no good games worth downloading.


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