What Audiences Can Expect From "Transcendence"

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
April 21st, 2014

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Audiences have eagerly waited for the release of the 2014 sci-fi drama "Transcendence," which hit theaters April 18. Dr. Will Caster, whose renowned research centers on artificial intelligence, uploads his mind to a computer when he is nearly killed, soon becomes more powerful than he had ever imagined. For audiences who are unsure what to expect from this film, here are some of the key elements that "Transcendence" has to offer.

A Standard but Engaging Sci-fi Plot

The idea of an AI technology becoming too powerful and threatening the human race has been a staple of science fiction for decades, but "Transcendence" uses familiar themes to create a unique plot that draws in the viewer. When Dr. Caster is targeted by a group of anti-tech radicals, he soon discovers that his condition is terminal. He subjects himself to his own research in order to preserve his mind, uploading it to a computer. Although his wife is ecstatic to see that a part of her husband is still alive, others argue that the intelligence is not truly Will anymore. What is to follow is the transcendent Will's seemingly never-ending quest for power.

The well-paced plot is both clever and emotional, pulling audiences into a world where technology dances on the edge of consciousness and traditional-minded individuals choose to do anything to stop it. The plot is further aided by the ambiguous lines between good and evil. The anti-technology extremists at first seem to be the antagonists of the story, but as the story continues, it turns out that perhaps Will himself is the one to be feared. The suspense, emotion and mystery that are weaved into the plot keep viewers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.

An Exploration of Technology, Consciousness and Relationships

Rather than using this exciting plot to create a thriller, filmmakers instead explore the philosophical questions raised by the film, such as whether technology can ever truly attain consciousness and what this would mean for the human race. It creates a believable reality in which some choose to pursue science to its absolute limits while others fear the power of increasingly advanced technology. Audiences can expect plenty of mind-bending issues to be raised during the course of this film, making it an ideal flick for those who enjoy reflection and discussion after a movie viewing. "Transcendence" also focuses its attention on the relationship between Will and his wife Evelyn. Although she is a respected scientist like Will, her love for her husband often blinds her as his transcendent self begins seeking power. The dynamics between the two characters are an intriguing element of the film, adding another level of depth and emotion to the story.

Breathtaking Visual Effects

"Transcendence" is directed by Wally Pfister, who is best known as the cinematographer for many of Cristopher Nolan's films. Pfister brings the same beautiful visuals that audiences have come to expect from Nolan's films, so viewers can look forward to a visually stunning film. Even in a normally mundane setting such as a laboratory, the use of lighting and sweeping camera angles demonstrates visual storytelling at its finest. The scenes that take place when Dr. Caster's power grows are especially spectacular, helping viewers to make sense of the transcendent technology in a new way. For this reason, "Transcendence" is a film that viewers should watch on the biggest theater screen they can find.

A Standout Performance From Depp, Freeman and the Rest of the Cast

Johnny Depp plays the main character Dr. Will Caster, and his performance has been widely regarded as outstanding. Depp, whose acting versatility is well-known in Hollywood, enters the role of the AI researcher with ease, and his performance feels consistently natural. Acting legend Morgan Freeman plays Joseph Tagger, bringing a great level of depth to his character and the film as a whole. The rest of the cast, although not as widely known, are just as impressive. Rebecca Hall is completely convincing as Will's grieving wife Evelyn, acting with a natural display of raw emotion. Among the rest of the talented cast are Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara and Paul Bettany.

The film is rated PG-13 for some action and violence, sensuality and brief language. Audiences can expect a thrilling intellectual ride that explores the limits of technology and consciousness, but they should not enter the movie theater expecting a sci-fi thriller, as this film trades action for thought-provoking mystery and drama. With an intriguing plot, beautiful visuals and an all-star cast, this film is sure to become the sci-fi flick of the year.