A newly-released featurette for Transcendence – this April’s buzzed-about Johnny Depp sci-fi feature by Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister – contains a fair chunk of previously-unseen footage, along with some insightful comments by the cast and creative minds behind the film. That includes a noteworthy interview with costar Paul Bettany – the voice of JARVIS in the Marvel Movie Universe (who’ll soon play Vision for next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron).
Bettany reveals that a Caltech scientist informed him that the technology depicted in the film – which allows for a human consciousness (that of Depp’s terminally-wounded scientist Will Castor) to be uploaded into a supercomputer – is not so far-fetched as one might assume; on the contrary, it may be as soon as thirty years into the future (according to predictions), when humans can (via technology) achieve “immortality,” as Bettany puts it.
Well, according to 2001: A Space Odyssey, we should have already traveled across the universe with rogue A.I. thirteen years ago – which is to say, probably best to not start preparing for the war against the machines just yet. Regardless, it’s a cool story concept and one that feels all the more timely, as concerns about going too far with our creation of digital technology have increasingly become part of the zeitgeist (something that’s been reflected throughout various mediums of pop culture).
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Trailers and preview footage for Transcendence has continually impressed on a pure visual level, even more so when you watch them in an actual theater (and especially an IMAX screen). Indeed, Pfister’s refined sense of composition and scale – combined with a skilled cast that includes Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, and Kate Mara in supporting roles – could be key to compensating for any possible narrative shortcomings in the script by relative unknown Jake Paglen.
That’s not to say Paglen’s screenwriting appears subpar – on the contrary, he looks to have crafted a worthwhile narrative with a strong-beating heart (e.g. the relationship between Will and his wife, played by Rebecca Hall). Problem is, some of those “A.I. gone haywire” elements seem like they might be a bit derivative – and thus, maybe not quite so profound, for anyone who’s ever played a video game, read a book, and/or watched a movie where humanity learns the hard way that self-aware machines may not be all fun and games.
Transcendence opens in regular and IMAX theaters in the U.S. on April 18th, 2014.