To Transcend or not Transcend
Those with a keen interest in cinema will already know this, but not too long ago a film called Transcendence was released internationally. It’s fairly fresh on the screen in more ways than one, as it’s the directorial debut of Wally Pfister – the cinematographer in charge of shooting almost all of Christopher Nolans films including Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and Inception. There’s been a noteworthy amount of hype surrounding it, especially as Christopher Nolan was announced as a producer, the budget was raised to 100 million, and some of Nolan’s favourite players like Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy joined the project. In addition, the rest of the cast included Paul Bettany, Johnny Depp, and Rebecca Hall, so the only thing left to potentially disappoint us was the plot.
“As Dr. Will Caster works toward his goal of creating an omniscient, sentient machine, a radical anti-technology organization fights to prevent him from establishing a world where computers can transcend the abilities of the human brain.”
Alright, it’s not exactly a dramatic indie gem, but I do love a good science fiction premise. Pfister himself described it as a throwback to 1970’s sci-fi like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Silent Running, and Westworld. Sounds good to me, I’d love to be transported back to the days when films like this were more about ideas, questions, and ultimately something fundamental concerning the nature of humanity as a whole. Cinema can be a wonderful medium in which to explore the consequences, benefits, and untapped avenues of technology as its roots grow deeper and deeper into our established society.
So how did the movie do when it opened?
Transcendence has tanked miserably. Both critically and financially it is an undeniable failure, having only made half its money back worldwide and garnering an almost unanimously negative response from critics. The word of mouth on it has totally putrified by now, so the chances of it making its money back are shot. So then why am I sitting here like this:
I have to be honest with myself…I’m interested! The idea seems good, I like the actors, I like Wally Pfister, and all the promotional material intrigues me. In summation, I have nothing to indicate that I won’t enjoy this film…besides everyone else telling me so.
Now I’m someone who takes film reviews and majority opinions very seriously. When 9 out of 10 people agree that a film is bad, there’s usually a reason. Mixed reviews are one thing, but a %13 debut score on rotten tomatoes is pretty much cut and dry.
Ok, so there we have it. I won’t bother wasting my money on it. After all, I’m in my own personal recession at the moment. Having basically no money means you can’t afford to take a chance on such a lambasted film. If it had a %60 then maybe, %50 perhaps, hell even %40 but dammit…it isn’t worth cutting a pound of flesh from my side just to satisfy my curiosity when the rest of the village condemns it like the plague. Just out of interest, what are some other films that critics and audiences hated when they were initially released?
Great, so now I’m back to square one. What do I do, follow my whims or follow the crowd? Carefree and exciting or responsible and dull?
Perhaps I’ll try something new. Transcendence is still in theatres and one hopes it will be so for a little while longer, thus I have a little time to call upon the audience.
Yes! The Cinema-Rant audience…all…3 of you…or thereabouts, will now have the chance to decide my fate. I’ve given you no middle ground here, so as to hopefully leave me with a definitive answer. It’s ok if you haven’t seen the film, all I’m asking for is a hunch, a feeling, a blessing or a reservation, if nothing else…a mere tilt of the head one way or the other.
You have one week!
– Rant Over!