Thursday, May 8, 2014

"A machine can't reconcile that."

We went to the movies last Friday night.  Like up off the couch “no liquid cholesterol additive to the popcorn please” in a room full of strangers going to the movies.  The original plan was to see Divergent but we waited too long.

We settled on Transcendence.  The plot sounds good, the trailer gave the impression of a competent film.  It’s got Johnny Depp so we knew it would be a little quirky but we’ve enjoyed him in everything from PotC  (part one only, I’m afraid) to Chocolate.

It was not a bad film.  I think the negative press is about missed opportunity or great expectations.  It could have been better – just by being shorter, actually – but it did accomplish what I believe the goal was.  To make us consider matters of the soul, what is it – exactly – that makes us who we are?  And how could that change?

I’ve read a bit that says the film is about fear of technology but I don’t think so.  That was a plot device to give meaning to the action.  It wasn’t done especially well because this is a philosophical film first and a thriller second.  More of a Gattica than Blade Runner.

It was a remake of The Lawnmower Man.  I don’t know if it was intentional or not.  I don’t actually care enough to Google it to find out.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s the same question rolled into the same amazing special effects.  There are a few differences, but they are secondary and relate to the “thriller” side of the story.

I liked The Lawnmower Man – it did have James Bond in it – and I have written short stories using many of the ideas that were presented in Transcendence asking the same sort of questions.  For me it was an easy film to watch.  I liked it despite some fairly serious inconsistencies on the thriller side because it did what truly great SciFi always does – ask serious questions through a challenging situation that demonstrates one possible solution without preaching that solution as right or wrong.

It makes you think.

Transcendence is not light faire, but it isn’t Lincoln either.  You can put it in your queue and enjoy it on your iPhone just as much as the theater.  But if you do want to head to the Cineplex and don’t care to watch a superhero film, this is better than most of the other options.
Cut me some slack, it was 1992!

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