"Intelligent, Moral Science Fiction"
TRANSCENDENCE rises above the typical pyrotechnics of recent science fiction to deliver a very thought provoking look at science getting out of hand. Fairly clean, well made, and acted, it literally asks, “Do you want to make your own God?”
Johnny Depp plays Will Caster, a brilliant scientist pressing the frontiers of artificial intelligence. Rebecca Hall plays his fellow scientist wife, Evelyn, who loves the possibility of using artificial intelligence to cure cancer, end poverty, and clean up the environment. Their charmed life is shattered when some radicals who believe artificial intelligence is dangerous shoot Will. Will survives the shooting, but the bullet turns out to be highly radioactive.
As Will’s life slips away over a month’s time, Evelyn decides to try to save his mind by uploading it to a computer. She and their friend, Max, succeed, even when being attacked by radicals trying to stop them.
When Will’s uploaded to the Internet, his powers expand exponentially. He’s able to study the entire world’s surveillance cameras and alert the FBI to where the anti-technology people are hiding. He even discovers ways to regenerate severely injured bodies and give sight to a man born blind. However, there are drawbacks to such power. He knows everything about everyone. Also, those he has healed have super strength and live almost as his drones. In fact, he uses nano-technology to connect all of them to him through the Internet.
With Max’s help, the FBI decides to work with the anti-technology radicals to stop Will.
It’s actually refreshing to see a science fiction movie where a major threat to life on earth is not posed by Godzilla, evil Transformers, or any huge flying objects going around destroying cities. In an age when government agencies have access to every phone call or mouse click, and enemies can be taken out by soldiers at consoles controlling drones, this is a movie that will make you think. Do we want a cure to cancer if the price is programmed cells? Do we want more security if the price is the complete elimination of privacy?
Early in the movie, Will is asked if he wants to play God. This is a valid question. Will was working on “transcendence,” which he considered the use of supercomputers to add powers beyond the imagination to an uploaded human mind. Consider the similarity. God knows our every thought. God knows our motives. God made children who scrape their knees to regrow perfect skin. God made mankind capable of building artificial intelligence, atomic bombs, and surveillance cameras. We are living in a time when we expect technology to find astounding cures, but also to build ever more horrifying weapons. We live in an age where a small gift to a politically incorrect cause can cost you your job 15 years later. We live in an age where information gathered by the IRS and other government agencies can trigger politically motivated audits and prosecutions.
TRANCENDENCE does a wonderful job of causing viewers to think. How far do we want technology to go? What keeps it from being misused? Can it be stopped? Should it be stopped?
Those who obey God will use technology as God desires. Those who disobey God can misuse technology in frightening ways.
TRANSCENDENCE has a less than satisfying resolution, along with a couple possible plot holes, but the trip there is some of the best science fiction in years. It has less foul language and less violence than most of today’s science fiction movies. Not a single block of a major city gets blown to bits, but the world is radically changed.
(BB, H, ACAC, L, VV, S, A, M) Strong moral worldview opposing man trying to “play God” and calling for consideration of the morality of technological advances, with humanist beliefs that man can perfect the universe being debunked, but there are no overt calls for reliance on God or the Bible, plus an anti-statist argument is made against totalitarian control of human beings; four obscenities (two “s” words and two “h” words), two Jesus profanities, and three MGs; strong and light violence with some blood includes a mugging leading to a healing, people are hurt and bleeding, some explosions, gun battles where those shot are regenerated, several artillery shots are fired and exploded, people collapse, thin needles inject people (including a man’s blind eye) with nano technology to cure them, and shooter turns gun on himself but his suicide isn’t shown; woman has a dream of her husband briefly kissing her in bed but it turns into a nightmare; no nudity; brief alcohol use; no smoking or illegal drugs but futuristic biomedical cures; and, extreme loss of privacy, man is mugged for his money, man is kidnapped, and man becomes power mad.
TRANSCENDENCE is a science fiction thriller starring Johnny Depp as Will Caster, a scientist pressing the frontiers of artificial intelligence. Will’s scientist wife, Evelyn, loves the possibility of using artificial intelligence to cure cancer, end poverty, and clean the environment. Their life is shattered when radicals opposing artificial intelligence shoot Will with a radioactive bullet. As Will’s slowly dies, Evelyn uploads his mind to a computer. When connected to the Internet, he’s able to study the world’s surveillance cameras and alert the FBI about bad guys. He discovers ways to regenerate severely injured bodies. However, there are drawbacks. Will knows almost everything about everyone. Also, those he has healed have super strength and live almost as his drones. Can Will be stopped?
Superbly crafted, TRANCENDENCE causes viewers to think. How far do we want technology to go? What keeps it from being misused? Can it be stopped? Should it? TRANSCENDENCE has a less than satisfying resolution, but the trip there is some of the best science fiction in years. It has less foul language and less violence than most science fiction movies.