*** 1/2 out of 5
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Warner Bros. Pictures
Article first published as Movie Review: ‘Transcendence’ on Blogcritics.
After years as a cinematographer, it makes sense to finally move into the director’s chair. Working alongside Christopher Nolan — along with winning an Oscar for Inception — means you big shoes to fill in your big debut. If anything, Wally Pfister’s Transcendence
is at least the kind of big idea film you’d expect out of a Nolan
cronie. The only thing holding the film back is trying to create the
type of urgency screenwriter Jack Paglen lacks in his story. Brimming with ideas, it all starts to fall flat in the end, holding the film back from making its own transcendence.
There are a lot of big ideas floating around Transcendence,
but none that seem to get off the ground. Had the film been faster
paced, maybe the ending wouldn’t have felt so anticlimactic. It just
takes forever to get to the point. It touches on the issues of
technology taking over our lives, and Pfister keeps things looking as
big and shiny as you’d expect from a Nolan production, but the pacing is
a huge issue, no thanks to editor David Rosenbloom. Working with lots
of prior Nolan cast members maintains a high level of acting, but the
finale never feels as epic as it should be.
The best idea that sticks is when someone at the conference asks Will
if he wants to create his own God to which he replies: “Isn’t that what
man has always done?” Had they stuck to those kinds of ideas, instead
of opting for gunfights and explosions, Pfister may have had the kind of
grand scale thinking man’s sci-fi thriller he was aiming for. If you’re
interested in seeing the film, you won’t be let down. However, if you
already think it doesn’t look for you, there is more here than you’d
think. At least Johnny Depp isn’t stuck in another wacky role, which is a
kind of Transcendence in and of itself for any film.
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures