Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Trance Dance

We had to watch Transcendence (2015) since we'd watched Her - it's another movie about artificial intelligence. Not that they have much in common, except that they we were kind of disappointed.

It starts with a spoiler, but I'll skip that. It goes back a few years and introduces us to Johnny Depp, a celebrated but somewhat reclusive computer scientist, and his wife, Rebecca Hall, another scientist, but maybe more of an administrator. We get quite a bit of exposition before Depp is killed by a neo-Luddite PETA-style terrorist group, and his wife and best friend (Paul Bettany) upload his consciousness into a computer.

Virtual Johnny Depp starts out a bit mechanical, but quickly gets better. Hall sets up a research facility for him and the Deppbot starts experimenting with nanotech, then medical nanotech. He eventually starts to recruit an army of mind-controlled zombies, which everyone feels is not cool, although I don't think anyone every tells him that.

So FBI agent Morgan Freeman and old friend of Hall decides to join with the terrorists and Paul Bettany to take down Depp before he takes over the internet. Which is weird, because a) the terrorist killed most of his FBI buddies (SPOILER - poisoned birthday cake) and 2) can an FBI agent do that? Anyway, that doesn't work out and soon Depp 2.0 is ready to - dare I say it? - rule the world! Unless his wife turns on him and takes him down.

One of our biggest issues with Her was that the society developed strong AI and used it for dating purposes and to organize email. At least Transcendence didn't make that mistake. But we still felt like they were thinking smaller than the title indicates. But my real problem was that I was behind Depp the whole way. - SPOILER - I think we are supposed to fear the Depptron - it's an out of control Frankenstein's monster to whom humans are nothing but insects. But even though the zombie mind control thing as a bit rough, he only did it to volunteers with serious health problems. It was win-win, people.

I guess Depp is just too sympathetic, too darn likeable to be scary. The movie is really a love story between Depp and Hall, and it is a sweet romantic one. But this still didn't work for me.

No comments: