Many filmmakers have attempted to portray artificial intelligence and the impact, positive or negative, it has on society. Following the lines of this concept comes Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, Transcendence. The film revolves around scientist Will Caster (Johnny Depp), a leader in the field of artificial intelligence. Will focuses on technological singularity – or Transcendence, as he calls it – the point where artificial intelligence surpasses human capability. While this theory has many supporters, including his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max (Paul Bettany), there are extreme anti-technologists like the Revolutionary Independence From Technology group (R.I.F.T.). Their attempt to assassinate Will leaves him with less than a month to live. Evelyn tries to preserve Will by uploading his consciousness to an artificial consciousness program, thus creating an artificial super-intelligent being. But soon the computer takes drastic measures like influencing Wall Street or logging on to the security cameras in an effort to do good. Moral and ethical lines are crossed as computer Will’s hunger for knowledge and power grows.
Pfister, a cinematographer who has worked on films such as The Dark Knight, delivers a sci-fi thriller that pushes the audience to debate the future and morality of artificial intelligence and the unforeseeable consequences on mankind. Johnny Depp does a good job portraying an ambitious scientist with a greed for power. For her part, Rebecca Hall, quite convincingly, portrays the loving wife who has to decide when to draw the line between saving her husband and saving mankind. Overall, the film will appeal to forward thinkers who can digest a slightly twisted concept about artificial intelligence controlling and destroying humanity. Even though the concept goes overboard towards the end of the film, the visuals are stunning and are ultimately the film’s saving grace.
Special Blu-ray features include What is Transcendence, Wally Pfister: A Singular Vision, Guarding the Threat and The Promise of A.I. Other films available on home release today include: Cell 213, Heaven is for Real, Sabotage, Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club, Made in America, Dom Hemingway, Blue Ruin, All Cheerleaders Die, The Zero Theorem and Triptych. ~Marriska Fernandes