The only saving grace in this movie is Johnny Depp.
Okay, generally I have a pretty good impression of Johnny Depp. The guy's a pretty good actor although he does tend to be stuck in Jack Sparrow-esque roles and I do like to see his movies. But lately, it seems that his choice of which movies he stars in could really use a...review. First case in point, Lone Ranger. 2nd case, this movie.
So what is Transcendence about? tl;dr There's this AI scientist who is researching AI but he gets shot and mortally wounded and his wife decides to upload his brain into the computer housing the AI they're working on. Then she gets the smart idea to upload him into the internet. And you can kind of see where we're getting from here. I mean, these types of plots aren't exactly new. This is pretty much how Skynet started out after all, and yet somehow in these type of films, the humans NEVER ever see what they're doing is; if not wrong, but at least really stupid.
That's the premise of the film. At which point, you're already kind of expecting Johnny Depps AI character to go bad because that's what these movies are about. And he does. Very very very slowly... Over the course of the 2 hour movie...
I'm not saying there aren't enough creepy moments in the film where you realise that the AI has really gone off the deep end, such as moments where he hijacks the body of people he has injected his nanomachines into and healed or where he tries to get with his wife while in such a host body. Yet, somehow the wife still pretends everything is perfectly fine even when shit like this is happening.
The real issue behind the film is that it moves very very slowly and it never really goes anywhere. While it tries to be more psychological than action-based, the problem is that it doesn't do either very well. The exposition is extremely slow, taking place over the span of 5 years. The reason for that is they try to make viewers sympathize with the crazy couple of the AI and the wife. This doesn't work so well because as I said, the AI is very very creepy. It gets to the point you're not sure if the people the AI heals are even 'themselves' anymore because they're all supposedly networked to the AI. Sure they may seem to go about their daily life but when a threat to the AI comes, they all turn at the same time and go to intercept it together without any commands. Then there's the whole body-jacking the AI likes to do and DOES do several times in the film. In the end, you're just wishing they spent less time talking and were faster in destroying the AI. And yet somehow at the end, they have to try and add in this message that maybe the AI wasn't really that bad after all. No...it kind of was but it's yet another instance of them trying to shoehorn stuff into the film and why the film suffers as a whole.
Overall, I can see why critics are almost universally panning this film online. And I agree with them.