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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Bad movies don’t die, they just get television spin-offs

Sometimes it can be more fun to write about a really bad movie than a good movie. Sometimes a movie is so awful that it excites the mind in a way that merely okay movies don’t, especially when the awful movie in question is on a subject that you’re really interested in. Such was the case for me, three years ago, with Legion (2010), an apocalyptic shoot-’em-up that starred Paul Bettany as an archangel who turns against God when God decides to destroy all of humanity.

At the time, I listed ten reasons why the film was a major disappointment, even on its own ridiculous terms, and I was content to leave it at that. But apparently the filmmakers were not. Deadline reported yesterday that Syfy has commissioned a 90-minute pilot for a potential series called Dominion, which would take place a couple decades after the movie:
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