Spoiler: Will and Eveylyn Caster turn into sunflowers by teleporting through what I can only assume is magic technology dirt. This was the parting image that Transcendence left me with. It was clearly not the sort of surprise ending I was anticipating. No one wanted to go see this movie with me. I should know by now that if I have to go see a movie by myself, it is probably not going to end well. Apparently, I have yet to learn this lesson.At its core, Transcendence is the story of a woman who cannot accept her husband’s death, and she attempts to reverse it by any means necessary without considering the consequences. Hundreds of years of literature and film have relayed time and time again that this is a bad idea. Remember the wise words of Jud Crandall? “Sometimes, dead is better.” This concept has been handled well in both mediums – if you are interested in a positive reading or viewing experience (respectively), I would recommend Frankenstein and Pet Sematary, or Flatliners and, of course, Jurassic Park. If you would like to hate your life for two hours, I would recommend Transcendence.
Johnny Depp portrays Dr. Will Caster, a scientist who specializes in Artificial Intelligence and the quest to create a machine that has both limitless intellect and the capacity for human emotion. Caster’s controversial ideas and experiments have made him the target of an anti-technology group of terrorists, and they ultimately assassinate him. As he is dying, however, Caster launches a plan with his wife and his best friend (Evelyn and Max) so that his consciousness can be uploaded into an AI machine. It works, and Caster immediately demands more power and access to the internet (presumably to check his Twitter feed). Max does not believe that this is really Will, but when he expresses this viewpoint to Evelyn, he is abruptly dismissed from the project. Evelyn proceeds to do everything that Will tells her to, Max is kidnapped by the terrorists, and Morgan Freeman roams around aimlessly but I have not yet determined whether or not his character actually serves a purpose.
Will and Eveylyn buy a town and create a massive facility where Will can play with nanotechnology and heal crippled people. He connects himself to a bunch of “hybrids” and commences his plan to…I actually don’t know what he was planning on doing, but he is definitely trying to achieve something and it seems important. Max seems to have realigned himself with the terrorists, and they set about to stop Will by creating a virus. They also shoot and break Will’s facility and his hybrids, but everything repairs itself with the help of the magic technology dirt – another aspect of this film that makes absolutely no sense, but I suspect that there is a convoluted explanation of what this is meant to signify out there somewhere.
And then we are back to the sunflowers. I don’t know what happened. This movie had a lot of potential, but it was nothing but downhill from the start. The awkward plot is full of unnatural progressions and an overall strangeness. For instance, we are meant to question whether or not the machine is actually Will. The whole movie, it acts very much unlike Will, but at the end he insists it was him all along. Or was it? I am all for ambiguous conclusions, but they need to contribute to the film in some way other than furthering a general confusion. Moreover, who gets Morgan Freeman to be in their movie and then completely neglects him? What a waste of a great talent. Really, what a waste of a lot of talent. And $6.75 on my part, but at least it was a matinee.