"Transcendence" Puts Artificial Intelligence in a New Light

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Past films about artificial intelligence have always been about making a machine appear to be more human, but the movie “Transcendence,” directed by Wally Pfister, does the opposite. He takes humanity and puts it into a machine. The results are amazingly controversial and superbly thrilling, and it will have the audience wondering just how much power is too much. Starring Johnny Depp, “Transcendence” is a science fiction thriller that will have the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the entire film.

In “Transcendence,” the audience meets Will Caster, who is played by Johnny Depp. Caster is a leader in the scientific field of artificial intelligence. His research is controversial and brings unwanted attention from an anti-tech group who call themselves R.I.F.T. Lead by the beautifully determined Bree, played by Kate Mara, the anti-tech terrorist group attacks Will and leaves him on the brink of death. Will’s wife can’t let Will go, so she teams up with the couple’s best friend and researcher Max to conduct the world’s most magnificent experiment. The goal is to transplant Will’s consciousness into an existing artificial intelligent machine before he’s gone forever. Paul Bettany fills the role of Max, and Rebecca Hall plays Will’s wife, Evelyn. Both provide strong performances that draw viewers in and make them feel like they are a part of the story.

After the successful transference of Will’s mind into the computer, Evelyn and Max rejoice, but the happiness is short lived when Will’s new form has an unsustainable thirst for knowledge and power. He also has big plans on changing the world, which is terrifying for some people. Will takes initiative to tap into the digital world and manipulate events to conform to his new vision of the world. During all this, Evelyn and Max fight to keep the husband and friend as the man they knew. The last straw comes when Will moves into the environmental and biological world and his growing number of opponents fight to stop him from changing the world forever.

“Transcendence” is a movie with it all, including drama, mystery, science fiction, fantasy and thrills to keep viewers wanting to see more. It’s the directorial debut for Wally Pfister, who worked with Chris Nolan as a cinematographer and collaborator on “Inception” and all three movies in The Dark Knight trilogy. Another newbie on the scene is writer Jack Paglen, who took a big chance with creating a heavy science fiction fable as his first feature length film script.

The technology used to create “Transcendence” makes audiences feel as if transplanting a human’s consciousness into a machine is a real possibility, which also means this situation could be a real fear. While both those who are for Will and his changes and those who oppose his views fight against each other, it all boils down to human frailty. Even in a highly advanced technological world, there are still things that can’t replace the human mind and consciousness. This is an area of science that will continue to be studied, researched and discussed. It’s the perfect topic for a great film.

Adding to the problems faced in “Transcendence,” those closest to Will are on different sides. Will’s wife is very vocal about her beliefs that sentient machines will do wonders for the world. On the other hand, their friend Max feels that unrestrained technology only leads to trouble. While Will is acting like a digital deity who wants to heal the world, he is really taking away individual autonomy by trying to control everyone and everything on the planet.

The word transcendence is used by Will Caster as the specific moment in time when a machine becomes self aware. What some people may perceive as flaws in the film are really purposefully placed as evocative conversation starters. This film has audiences asking themselves many questions about humanity, A.I. and what is right and wrong. This is a movie that will spark discussions, debates and even some arguments.

Since Wally Pfister is an award winning cinematographer, the audience may be slightly disappointed in the lack of stunning imagery, but in this case, there is only so much that can be done when the main character is a computer. There are plenty of lovely images, strong performances and impressive sci-fi components that will keep the audience happy. Johnny Depp fans will enjoy seeing him playing a role that isn’t typical for him. Movie critics all over the country have been summing up “Transcendence” with one of Depp’s lines in the film, which is simply “short on logic, but not on irony.”


Source by Zack Mandell

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