In the past years, Johnny Depp has kept quite a low profile, so to speak, with various unsuccessful movies, from both the box-office perspective and the critical point of view. As a matter of fact, the man known only as Jack Sparrow (even if he has had many of films in which he shined) is now at the center of attention only because of his relationship with Amber Heard – after the 4th Pirates of the Caribbean (which, let’s face it, was made only for money), he surprised only with the flops in which he played (Lone Ranger) and the return to the aging universe of Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, who was also dull and unsurprising).
So you can understand the general excitement when he was announced to play in Transcendence, Wally Pfister’s first try in the director’s chair: “A terminally ill scientist downloads his mind into a computer. This grants him power beyond his wildest dreams, and soon he becomes unstoppable.”
But even from this short official synopsis we can see a few things which don’t add up – what does it mean unstoppable and why does it have such an ominous feeling attached to it? So when the trailer arrived, we got a chance of seeing what was meant:
So what was supposed to be a movie about the human condition and overcoming all its shortcomings transformed in a film about the dangers of creating an artificial intelligence – in itself, this isn’t really a bad concept, even if it has been used and overused plenty of times until now. But it all depends on how a director and his crew and cast can bring all that on the silver screen, it depends on how they will all give a new meaning and a new face to this threat.
As far as this trailer goes, the results are a bit unsatisfactory – like any other intelligence (according to Morgan Freeman’s Joseph), this one will try to improve itself and to overcome all its obstacles in its path towards perfection. Furthermore, it will also try to improve everyone around it – in this case, the humans living on earth (with Johnny Depp’s Will saying that you will be afraid at first, but then you’ll come to accept it). After all, it is all for the greater good.
Yet again we are faced with a machine/AI which sees the humans as an imperfect life-form. Yet again we see that machine/AI taking the fate of all humans in its metaphorical hands trying to speed up the process of their evolution – it wouldn’t be a wonder if the entire moral of this movie was something like keeping one’s humanity, no matter how imperfect this condition may be. It wouldn’t be a wonder if the director decided to spell it out for us.
You may say that we are a bit too pessimistic as far as how this movie will be. However, the ground on which Wally Pfister is treading is such a fertile one and we cannot help but be disappointed by what the trailer, viral campaigns, and featurettes have shown us. How can Will speed up the growth of the plants once he has achieved this transcendence? How can he manipulate all matter?
And what does RIFT mean? We know that it stands for Revolutionary Independence From Technology, but it does sound a bit like fighting for peace (the guerrilla tactics they use also need technology as logistics).
All in all, the movie will be released on the 18th of April – we will see then from what Johnny Depp is really made of. However, the safest money is that Transcendence will be just another movie about a psychotic AI and the humans trying to stop it.