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'Transcendence' fails to connect elements

4/22/2014

Artificial intelligence is a scary thing -- the coldness of intellect untempered by human emotion. "Transcendence" tells a slow, sprawling tale of an AI experiment gone wrong while simultaneously preaching the wonders and evils of technology.

Artificial intelligence is a scary thing -- the coldness of intellect untempered by human emotion. "Transcendence" tells a slow, sprawling tale of an AI experiment gone wrong while simultaneously preaching the wonders and evils of technology.

This is one of those films that is a victim of its own big ideas. Said big ideas are very often intriguing; however, the film struggles to contain and balance its narrative against the story it was trying to tell.

Perhaps unwisely, "Transcendence" is led by a first-time screenwriting and a well-known cinematographer making his directorial debut. Unsurprisingly for a movie with a cinematographer at the helm, "Transcendence" has some stunning imagery. That said, insufficiently explained visual happenings are a poor substitute for emotionally identifiable characters.

As usual, Johnny Depp clears himself very well; however, in a post-"Pirates of the Caribbean" world, it's a little disinteresting to watch Depp in a role that is a polar opposite to Capt. Jack Sparrow. Depp's astounding talent as a character actor is wasted on a role that is intentionally non-chaotic.

"Transcendence" suffers below-average marks with unfortunate uniformity. While the writing and directing are the most egregious offenders, every other aspect of the film fails to distinguish itself. When put together, these subpar pieces make for a long -- and frequently dull -- ride.

All in all, I wasn't as disappointed with my "Transcendence" experience as I probably should have been. With summer blockbuster season just around the corner, it's expected to have a few duds before the fireworks start going off.

3 of 6 stars

James Gerstner works at Fort Hays State University Foundation.

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