The entire notion of the Singularity is fascinating, and I am doubly intrigued by the fears that the idea seems to instill in people. I think the idea of being able to leave your body behind and live “forever” in a digital form is an amazing notion, but for some reason, whenever Hollywood deals with a major technological jump forward, they almost always do it in a horror film first.
While I’m not sure I’d call “Transcendence” a horror film, it certainly looks like they’re playing the notion of digital life as a terrifying prospect. The film is about a famous scientist of some sort, like a Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs, who is working on a process that will allow people to upload their consciousness when he is attacked and killed by someone looking to derail his research. In an effort to save his life, his wife uses his new process on him, and as his body dies, he makes the jump to a purely digital form.
At which point he appears to go crazy and try to take over the world.
That’s a big jump, and that’s where it starts to look pretty silly to me, but we’ll see how they handle it in the movie. What’s really startling is how much it looks like director Wally Pfister has basically taken a big chunk of his cast from the movies that he shot as Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, and Cillian Murphy are all Nolan veterans, and I would imagine that helps when you’re making your first film as a director. You want to be surrounded by people you know and trust, who you’re already comfortable with. While Pfister has never worked with Johnny Depp before, casting him gives you a different sort of comfort because you know that you’re going to be given the full support of the studio. Depp is one of our few true giant movie stars at the moment, and if he’s in sync with the filmmaker, that’s about as close to bulletproof as you can be.
I’ll be very curious to see how this one plays out. Is it going to be a souped-up version of “Colossus: The Forbin Project” or “The Lawnmower Man,” or is this going to be more complex than that?
We’ll find out when “Transcendence” arrives in theaters on April 18, 2014.