Review: Transcendence // This Is Film

Originally published on This Is Film 

In the 1999 ‘Treehouse of Horror’ episode of The Simpsons, one of the segments is Homer causing worldwide destruction thanks to Y2K. Because he hasn’t fixed his computer, he releases the virus around the world, and everything from Krusty the Clown’s pacemaker to milk cartons shut down.

It’s from this hysteria, that was debunked 14 years ago, that Transcendence originates. It’s the kind of film that would have been a box office smash with possibly positive critical reactions in 1999 for its statement on technology, but then looked back on now and seeing how much its dated so quickly. That’s the problem with Transcendence – it’s a brand new film and it’s already dated! We know that technology is bad and its benefits can quickly spiral into grey areas, becoming uncontrollable, but that’s something we hear every day, and Transcendence brings nothing new to that conversation.

As a result of this, Transcendence marks the first time in a while where I’ve felt the most apathetic towards a film. It’s not Winter’s Tale levels of bad, but it doesn’t have The Lego Movie or Tracks levels of entertainment, it’s just…flat. It left me totally uninspired or willing to care about it in any way.

Overwritten and confusingly detailed but still as one-dimensional as the hologram that gives Johnny Depp (in a monotone performance) most of his screen time, Transcendence pretends to be a smart, ground breaking technology drama with a romantic undercurrent, but falls incredibly short. Most of the narrative is haphazard, plot points discarded left, right, and centre, including what it needs to sell the story (including some very talented cast members, Rebecca Hall is definitely the MVP and has the most to work with by far). Incoherent and instantly forgettable, Transcendence, even on arrival, as old and dusty as Y2K theories.


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