Critics' Corner: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is certainly not immune to criticism during his long career. He has built a cult following with movies like "Edward Scissorhands", "Ed Wood" and "Sweeney Todd". He has also been a studio darling with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series. Although you can't do thirty-years worth of movies and not do a stinker or three along the way.

Possibly the secret to Depp's long 30-year career is his ability and bravery to do many types of films; big money, small money, controversial, children's, a Buster Keaton enthusiast, a psychedelic journalist, an indian, a reclusive factory owner that had already been played to immortality and now a downloaded brain.

"Transcendence" involves a theme that has been portrayed many times previously in movies like "Inception", "The 6th Day", "The Lawnmower Man", "Johnny Mneumonic", "The Thirteenth Floor", "Freejack", "Tron","Avatar" and I'll even throw in "Flatliners" to round out the theme. Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, a brilliant artificial intelligence researcher who is flirting with the line between humanity and computer intelligence. He is profecting the ability of artificial intelligence to be self aware. Should the line be crossed or not? Should the theme continue to be the focus of movies that are for the most part, not very good?

"Transcendence" has sort of a daunting mood from the get-go, as if they didn't want to toy with people's emotions or confuse them at any time. Never once do we feel any sort of optimism or joy in the movie and that causes two things; one, a dreary boring feeling throughout and a lack of hope, whether misleading or not. Even some misleading hope would have been welcome. The scenes fall together in pretty typical fashion and for such a large global, world-wide-web type venture, the action always involves the same characters in the same uninspired scenes we've seen in hundreds of movies.

"Transcendence" unfortunately comes off as a television version of a Steven King movie, despite having some great actors involved. This means that I would have rather watched "The Lawnmower Man" from 1992 again then watch "Transcendence", and even it wasn't that great of a movie. Once Dr. Will Caster is relegated to a CGI wall display, his booming, soothing, echoey voice is like a sleep inducer around every corner. You'd think that the gathering of soldiers at the end would remedy that, but instead it was just a typical ending to a typical movie. "Lets fire some bombs and blow some stuff up. We need some stuff for the trailer."