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Transcendence review


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#1 of 8 Wayne_j

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Posted April 17 2014 - 07:33 PM

I just caught a digital IMAX screening of Transcendence.  The film is better than the reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes would indicate, but it isn't brilliant.

 

Brief synopsis below in spoiler tags, minor spoilers, mostly the premise.

 

Spoiler

 

I think fans of science fiction as opposed to "sci-fi" will enjoy the movie.  I give it a B-.

 

The film was shot on anamorphic 35mm and looks to me like it was photo-chemically timed.

 

The image look slightly smeared and was dim (surprising for digital IMAX which uses 2 projectors).  There wasn't a lot of details visible in the shadows.  It looked to me like the non-IMAX shot scenes from The Dark Knight Rises which isn't surprising since this movie was directed by Christopher Nolan's DP.



#2 of 8 Yavin

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Posted April 18 2014 - 08:39 AM

Working from a script by Jack Paglen (who's also penning the upcoming Battlestar Galactica reboot), first-time director Wally Pfister — Christopher Nolan's go-to cinematographer since Memento — crams so many concepts into Transcendence's crowded narrative that the film quickly devolves into a catch-all for every sci-fi film gimmick from the past fifty years. From body snatchers to the Borg, the story — a metaphysical version of RoboCop meets The Lawnmower Man — borrows liberally from other, more cerebral works (and even from those not so cerebral, like Independence Day); and for most of its runtime, it plays out like a precursor to every film and television show set in a dystopian future where sentient machines have usurped mankind (The Terminator and The Matrix included). Admittedly, it sounds like a fascinating premise, in theory, but the fault in the science of Transcendence is its lack thereof. The film just doesn't bother delivering any credible explanations to support its plot points, instead preferring to layer them one atop the other, resulting in a sci-fi stew so overloaded with ingredients that it ends up dulling the audience's senses rather than piquing their interest.

 

3 out of 5. To paraphrase something Johnny Depp's character says in the film, "There's not a lot of logic, but there's plenty of irony." That, in a nutshell, summarizes Transcendence, a film that spreads itself thin trying to accommodate one too many ideas, but is ultimately too fuzzy on its own logic to sustain the weight of its ambitious plot. It isn't a terrible movie, it's just rather unremarkable. Sci-fi junkies will still want to flock to it, and its cast is undeniably impressive; but with a title that seems to imply an incomparable filmgoing experience, it falls short of expectations.

 

My full review can be found here.


Read all my reviews here.


#3 of 8 schan1269

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Posted April 18 2014 - 08:53 AM

And a sequel coming...

Transcendence Shrugged
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#4 of 8 TravisR

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Posted April 18 2014 - 10:35 AM

I dug it but at the same time, I wouldn't tell someone to run out and spend $11 to see it either.



#5 of 8 Edwin-S

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Posted April 18 2014 - 10:47 AM

I was going to go and see Captain America: Winter Soldier, but ended up going to this movie instead, thanks to the local theater constantly changing show times and not updating their useless website. I went in to this film blind. I had no idea what it was supposed to be about. I'm an SF fan but I'm not sure I would be quick to revisit this film. I found the film to be okay. It is a relatively low-key affair that doesn't rely o the special effects to try and carry it. They do try to tell a philosophical and metaphysically story. Violence is kept to a relative minimum. It's really a love story dipped in Sci-Fi tropes of self-aware AIs and collectivism vs individuality.

 

I found the pacing rather turgid and the musical cues only managed to reinforce that feeling. Overall, it felt like the director was trying too hard to transcend the typical Hollywood Sci-Fi movie and ended up making a film that took itself so seriously that it became overbaked. Some of the shots made me think that the director was trying to channel Terrence Malick, but with a lot less poetry in the result.

 

Still, the film didn't entirely bore me as my ass didn't start hurting from sitting in the theatre seating which is what typically starts to happen when a film doesn't engage me. I'd probably give this film an 'A" for effort from a first time director and a "C+" for the overall result.


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"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#6 of 8 Josh Steinberg

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Posted April 21 2014 - 06:30 PM

Still, the film didn't entirely bore me as my ass didn't start hurting from sitting in the theatre seating which is what typically starts to happen when a film doesn't engage me. I'd probably give this film an 'A" for effort from a first time director and a "C+" for the overall result.

 

I saw it earlier today, and that was my exact thought as well.

 

I didn't like the way that the film began at the very end of the story, and then went back to the beginning.  Sometimes that can be a useful narrative tool, but I feel that the way it was done with this movie (combined with the trailers and posters already out there), gave me too much information than a viewer should have two minutes into the movie.  I knew who would live or die, and what the end results of their project would be… and there weren't really any interesting twists and turns along the way to justify that.  It wasn't one of those movies where it's about the journey, not the destination, so it doesn't matter if you know where you're going.  And it wasn't one of those movies where they start you two thirds in, then recap, and then you watch the list third not knowing where it's going, it literally begins with images from the end of the story and then doubles back to tell you the story… and I don't think that worked for this film.  On one hand, I don't really like blaming trailers for ruining the movie, the movie either works or it doesn't… on the other hand…

Spoiler

 

All in all, some interesting ideas, some that have been done many times before, nice-looking direction and effects, a good (if underutilized) cast, but a very dull execution.


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#7 of 8 Freddie Z

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Posted April 24 2014 - 08:27 AM

Saw this the other day. The first two acts were Ok but the final act was just plain terrible. It felt rushed and disjointed. Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Cillan Murphy, and Cole Hauser were just wasted. It was like they were just standing around, lifeless, like zombies waiting for something to do. And Wally Pfister does not know how to direct an action scene. It looked so amateurish.

Definitely the second worse movie of the year. Behind TASM2 of course.

#8 of 8 Brian Dobbs

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Posted May 07 2014 - 06:39 AM

This movie was okay.  I liked the thematic elements it explored, but the plot was rushed and filled with conveniences.  You just have to go with it and appreiciate it from a "What If" scenario.






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