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I don’t know all that many scientists in real life, they tend to have better things to do than hang out people who spend most of their time talking trash about movies online. As a result, most of my conception of who they are and what they do comes from various media portrayals. Damn it if nearly every scientist in movies on and on TV isn’t intent on exceeding the bounds and boundaries of our biological selves, with playing God, and as you probably know, at least on screen, that rarely ends well for anyone. From what we’ve seen, Wally Pfister’s Transcendence is going to follow this genre logic, a point that this first TV spot drives home big time.
The latest video from Warner Bros. lays out the basic thematic concerns and some of the plot points. Those pesky bodies and that whole mortality thing are always getting in our way, but if Johnny Depp’s Dr. Will Caster has anything to say about it, that’s not going to be an issue much longer. He envisions a future where machines will have a full range of emotions, much like their human counterparts. In general, he thinks he’ll be able to “overcome the limits” of our biology and create an artificial intelligence that will become greater than the collective intellect of everyone on Earth.
What this teaser doesn’t show is that there are some people out there who don’t share or appreciate Will’s specific vision of the future. When a radical anti-tech group called RIFT (Revolutionary Independence From Technology) attempts to assassinate him, his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max (Paul Betany) upload his consciousness into a supercomputer named PINN. From there, things get out of hand, Will’s power, and lust for power, increases exponentially, and things go south from there. I’m not the first one, nor is this the first time, that I’ve pointed out certain narrative similarities to Lawnmower Man.
Pfister is most known for his role as cinematographer on numerous big Hollywood films. Perhaps most notable among these is Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but he’s also lensed the likes of Inception, Moneyball, and numerous others. Given the high-profile of his previous work, it’s no wonder that he was able to put together a cast that also includes Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, and Kate Mara, among others, for his first outing as a director.
Transcendence opens everywhere on April 18.