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Transcendence Review

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Warner Brothers

PG 13 119 min

I must admit mixed feelings about Johnny Depp's latest science fiction film transcendence.

(there is a spoiler alert you might want to consider here so...)

First and foremost I want to think the producers for releasing a sci fi that isn't 90 percent noise, FX, explosions and monsters. I do get weary of the same old, well, stuff. Unfortunately at the end of the day I decided I didn't really like transcendence for a couple of reasons.

In society, especially in science fiction, there has always been an element I called the Neo Luddite movement; those who think that modern technology is destroying the soul of mankind. Many of us have wondered exactly what would happen to the world if all of a sudden these magical devices, computers, smart phones, televisions, mass communication devices, social networking and the rest just ceased to exist. Keep in mind it hasn't been even two centuries since the world relied on paper, pencils, memory and steam and they seemed to live happy and fulfilled lives.

Here the idea of evolution comes into play. Is total consciousness not only the next step also the goal in the evolutionary process? Professor Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is doing research that would link the human mind to the mainframe of technology through artificial intelligence but his work is not without resistance. He is first and foremost intrigued by the theories rather than the commercial applications of his work though his wife Evelin dreams of a better world through science. When anti-technology terrorists attack scientist in this field, Will lives long enough to transfer his identity into the grid. At one with the cyber universe he's able to perfect a system that not only regenerates the cells of human beings but the core of the earth itself. Clean water clean air no disease no hunger all of these utopian ideas are now possible. The down side? Well depending on your point of view a side effect of the transformation makes every living being of the greater ONE. As many theologians predict we will all be part of the universal consciousness someday yet nobody seems to be in a hurry to get there.

The second shopworn hook is the age old tale of the rise of the machines. Like Star Trek V-ger and the Hal 9000 the supercomputer takes on a life of it’s own.

Of course it is in actuality not artificial intelligence. It is Dr Caster even though he is now a part of (and driving force of) the universal consciousness.

So if nothing else it’s a thought provoking question. We pray for universal knowledge yet we bristle when mankind tries to achieve it. Human nature? Your call.

Anyway that's reason number one I didn't love the film: it seems they wanted Dr Caster to be some sort villain who needed to be stopped. Personally I liked the guy and thought his heart, or whatever component passes for it was in the right place.


From HG Wells to Dr Moreau to the Prime Directive every silver lining has a dark cloud but the ham handed philosophy lesson or morality play aren't what made this film a failure in the end. It was excruciatingly slow pacing. You may need to smuggle in a cup or two of expresso just to keep your eyes open. Yes it becomes slightly more interesting the climax gets nearer but it’s a long trek to that point.

I gave it extra points for being thought provoking at least.



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I am in the process of reading the latest release of the Dune novels. Sisterhood of Dune/Mentats of Dune. The central theme in these novels.....which takes place like 25,000 years in the future, is this same struggle between what you term "Neo-Luddites" and those who want to advance humanity through technology.


The trilogy in that series The Butlerian Jihad/The Machine Crusade/The Battle of Corrin relates the "revolution" that humanity conducts against the "thinking machines/robots" who have come to enslave the human race pretty much.

In this first series, the human race wins, and AI is essentially outlawed.....but in the current series these "Butlerians" (i.e. the neo-luddites go about smashing anything remotely resembling technology.....except, of course that technology that allows them to conduct there campaign of violence.

Like in Transcendance, in Dune, certain people have converted their consciousness, or their brain into an immortal like robotic state and have taken control over the universe


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