© Tobis Film GmbH & Co. KG

U.K./China/U.S.A. 2014

Opening 24 Apr 2014

Directed by: Wally Pfister
Writing credits: Jack Paglen
Principal actors: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Cilian Murphy

Scientists Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) and his wife Dr. Evelyn Caster (Rebecca Hall) wish to change the world. And they do, although not quite as expected. Since “there is no evolution without technology,” they have created a computer system called PINN which humanizes the internet. Through unexpected circumstances, and, with the help of Evelyn and their best friend Max (Paul Bettany), Will finds himself inside the internet – the only way he can survive after an attempted assassination. From this position he is able to incorporate people who would have otherwise also not survived, thus creating an army of zombie-like helpers. Caster is the center of enormous power, which goes to his computer “head” just as it would any human head, and the action takes off in a threatening manner. A group, called Revolutionary Independence from Technology (RIFT), which is organized to counteract the adverse results of computer power, has little effect. What to do? Or even more pertinent: who can do?

With Transcendence, Wally Pfister presents his first film as director. Until now, he has won many prizes as a well-known camera man; here the photography is, of course, first class. Rebecca Hall carries the film. Not quite Her, in that she is not in love with her computer, she, still, is in love with her husband, who is now only available inside the computer, so that technically, yes, she is in love with her computer. Right? Johnny Depp has the scary, mad-scientist look with hair standing on end, but poor man, can only convince for a few minutes before disappearing into the internet which, from then on, steals his show. Otherwise, I missed the gist of the story and my (smarter) colleagues had to re-enact it for me afterwards. Perhaps the technical language, and the mind-numbing music, along with the comfortable lounge seats in Hamburg’s Savoy cinema, caused me to close down into my own little world. I’m sure that you technically-advanced viewers will see much that I didn’t and can appreciate the never-ending conflict between good and evil. (Becky Tan)

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