Transcendance. the movie


So I was on the way home from Singapore and one fo the movies on the plane was Transcendance. Now to be fair, I only decided to watch it to see Johnny Depp in another one of his relatively affect-free roles, but it actually caught my interest for the story, which I found a little surprising.

So just to get it out of the way, Depp makes a fine, autistic-spectrum propellor-head professor, just like so many that I know. One of these years, I’d love to see him playing a relatively “normal” person, neither the clown, nor the emotional tabula rasa that he (along with Keanu Reeves) does so well. But nevermind that, because he actually plays the part of the first person to get their mind uploaded to electronic hardware. His blankness suits the basic questions of personhood and evolution present in the film admirably. His “ghost in the machine” is neither convincingly human, nor sufficiently alien and leaves you guessing right alongside the rest of the cast.

Which is how I got hooked. In retrospect, I think the movie steers a middle ground between being a Frankenstein’s monster story and a hymn to the singularity. But while I was watching it, I hated nearly every minute - because it looked like they were setting up a Frankenstein.

Oops, did I just give away the big plot twist ending? Yes, I guess I did, but it doesn’t matter all that much. Even though I stuck through it partly to see which cliche they’d choose to end with, there weren’t very many ways to end this movie in any case. Most of what I watched it for was the way it actually dove into so much of the trans-humanist agenda. And the issues are handled quite well - the movie’s view is biased towards the creepy, but only theatrically so. When you look at what actually occurs, it is a bit more nuanced. Arguably the only real “bad guy” is a certain FBI agent, but isn’t that the role they’re generally supposed to play? Except in actual crime drama, of course.

Anyway, it was certainly worth the time, and since it is clealry no longer in main-line cinema release, probably worth the cash to buy the DVD (if you’re a networkological luddite like me, anyway). Out of the three movies I actually watched (Ocean’s 12 and Captain America: Winter Soldier were the others) on the return flight, I liked it enough to write about it.

This document was translated from LATEX by HEVEA.