Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies, since I’ve always found them to be fascinating.
Usually, Trailer Tuesday features a film that I was either excited about before I ever saw the trailer, or a film which gained my interest because of the trailer. Rarely does it feature one that makes me as ambivalent as Transcendence. Take a look, and then read on as I debate with myself (like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof) about this movie:
On the one hand: When I first heard about Transcendence, all I knew about it was that it is a Johnny Depp sci-fi film. That certainly piqued my interest, as I generally really like Johnny Depp, even in roles other people dislike. I tend to enjoy him even in bad or mediocre films, and the only performance of his that I can’t stand is as Willy Wonka. So the idea of Depp starring in a sci-fi film, a genre he has mostly avoided, was something that I found greatly appealing.
On the other hand: I then found out that Christopher Nolan was behind the film. I’ve said it before, but I’m just not a fan of Nolan. I love Memento, and Insomnia was great, but I thought The Prestige was pretty bad and Inception was just boring. His Batman series had some ups and downs, though generally speaking I disliked the artistic direction of them. So needless to say I lost a lot of enthusiasm for Transcendence based on this news.
On the other hand: I learned that Nolan would not be directing the film himself, but instead would be producing and the film would be directed by Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, Wally Pfister. Nolan’s movies may not be my cup of tea, but they are all beautifully shot, so things started looking up again.
On the other hand: Nolan’s most recent producing credit was Man of Steel, which gets continually worse the more I think about it.
On the other hand: The film is described as being about an artificial intelligence researcher (Depp), who is killed by anti-technology extremists but whose consciousness is transferred to a computer. He then begins to use his new powers to pursue his own agenda. The setup is rife for exploration, with some interesting potential ideas about the nature of consciousness and the role of technology in society, particularly the idea of anti-technology extremists.
On the other hand: The trailer doesn’t look like it’s going to get particularly deep about any of that, instead playing up the thriller aspects of the story. Much like Inception, I get the impression that Transcendence will be pretty to look at and will appear deep on a superficial level (yes, I know that doesn’t exactly make sense), but will in the end be rather hollow.
On the other hand: Paul Bettany is in the cast (as well as Morgan Freeman, who makes almost everything better, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara and Cilian Murphy). I love Bettany, particularly from A Knight’s Tale and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, but a host of other movies as well. So that’s a good thing.
So in the end, I don’t know what to think. There’s a lot to like about Transcendence, but I have a healthy amount of fear that it won’t deliver on any of the things I would hope for from this movie. I just really don’t want to get my hopes up for something that seems so likely to disappoint me. Believe me when I say that I normally am the most hopeful and positive person out there, so that’s unusual for me to say.
What do you think? Does Transcendence look good to you? What do you think about Johnny Depp in a science fiction film? Do you think Transcendence will live up to its potential regarding artificial intelligence and technology, or will it end up being a simple thriller? Does having Nolan’s name attached help or hurt the film in your eyes? Let me know in the comments!