Review: Transcendence (dir. Wally Pfister, 2014)

Transcendence is, in theory, the sort of film I ought to like. It’s a science fiction film with big ideas about the increasingly blurry line between humanity and technology, and it addresses the question of whether some creations can ever outgrow or improve upon their creators. The film also has some fantastic production design. It’s a treat to look at.

But in execution, the film — the first to be written by Jack Paglen and the first to be directed by Wally Pfister, a cinematographer who has shot all but one of Christopher Nolan’s films — leaves a lot to be desired, almost as though the ideas at play were simply too big for the filmmakers to really get a handle on.

Most significantly, the film sets up a conflict but can’t decide whose side it’s on — which makes for a curiously subversive bit of entertainment but also leaves the story feeling quite muddled, especially in its final moments.

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Three movies you won’t see on an airplane (or starship) this year

Have you started noticing any trends in the movies coming out this spring and summer?

Consider the terrorist attacks (or worse) that hit London in the trailers for G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Star Trek into Darkness. Consider the quasi-military attacks on Washington D.C. in Olympus Has Fallen and the upcoming White House Down.

And now, thanks to a couple of recently released trailers, we have another recurring motif: holes being ripped in the sides of airplanes (or starships), and passengers flying out those holes to their (presumed) deaths.

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