Transcendence seems like the perfect film for Wally Pfister to kick off his career as a director. Pfister emerged as one of the best cinematographers in the business through his collaborations with Christopher Nolan (which also won him an Oscar, for Inception), and one of the hallmarks of that collaboration has been their dogged commitment to shooting on film rather than digitally, even as the industry has rapidly abandoned the 20th century technology. With Transcendence, a science-fiction tale about an artificial digital intelligence putting our old-fashioned analog intelligence at risk of eradication, Pfister gets to play out that philosophical battle at a level with life-or-death stakes.
He establishes Will Caster (Johnny Depp) as a man with feet on both sides of that divide: He’s the world’s leading researcher in artificial intelligence technology, a man whose life is devoted to creating consciousness out of circuit boards, but his sanctuary at home is a lush, green garden where he listens to old LPs on a record player.
Caster fits neatly into sci-fi archetype as a scientist interested in the noble pursuit of pure knowledge — it’s how that knowledge is used by others that winds up becoming a problem. As he says at one speaking engagement, it’s his wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), who wants to change the world; he just wants to understand it.
Not everyone views his intentions as so honorable…
Continue reading the rest of my review over at NPR.
Tags | npr | review | science fiction | sci-fi | wally pfister | Johnny Depp | artificial intelligence | thriller | rebecca hall | morgan freeman | 1 note