Those who’ve been waiting a couple years to see Johnny Depp in a role where he doesn’t wear heavy amounts of facial makeup – after his turn as pallid vampire Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows back in 2012 and his American Indian warpaint look as Tonto in The Lone Ranger (now in theaters) – will have their wish granted next spring, when Depp plays an ordinary scientist in Transcendence.

Well, “ordinary” is a relative term here, given that Depp’s character – in Dark Knight trilogy cinematographer Wally Pfister’s directorial debut – is responsible for designing a supercomputer into which he uploads his consciousness. Depp, along with his fellow researcher/wife (Rebecca Hall), ends up being targeted by an anti-technology terrorist group, which isn’t happy about their attempts to create some form of artificial intelligence. To be fair, pop culture in general seems to indicate that the anti-tech fanatics have a point (see: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Terminator, The Matrix, I, Robot, etc., etc.).

Filming on Transcendence has been ongoing for a while now, and today we have an official behind the scenes image to offer, in addition to a set video that was made for the film’s Chinese co-financier DMG Entertainment (which also backed Iron Man 3 costarring Hall). Company Town is reporting that Transcendence will not include any footage that was made specifically for Chinese moviegoers – unlike IM3 or Looper (another DMG-backed original sci-fi movie) – but Hall still gives her Chinese fans a special shout-out in the above clip.

Check out the Chinese promotional artwork for Transcendence below (to see the first official set image, head on over to the LA Times article):

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The original Transcendence script draft written up by Jake Paglen – who has since been recruited to pen the Prometheus sequel – deals with very topical scientific ideas and questions, where it concerns humanity’s increasing reliance on digital technology and the ethical implications raised by artificial intelligence (ex. The possibility that computers could one day store a human consciousness). DMG founder Dan Mintz has spoken about that matter, in non-spoilery detail:

“Without giving away too much, ‘Transcendence’ is about that moment when human consciousness and the insanely fast rise of computing power collide. It pulls from the idea of singularity to tell a truly meaningful story that is more ‘science reality’ than science fiction. This is something that is likely to happen in our lifetimes and that makes it a story everyone can get into.”

Pfister and Paglen, by the sound of it, are taking a leaf from the same book that Christopher Nolan – who is an executive producer on Transcendence – drew from to make Inception and next year’s Interstellar: one that calls for using sci-fi concepts to tell a fundamentally human story. In this case, the story is one which deals with how technology can affect people’s ability let go – or hold onto – the past, at the cost of progress (in addition to the dangers of rushing into the future). Count us among those excited to see the final result.

Be sure and let us know what you think about Transcendence so far (based on early details and the cast/crew involved), in the comments section

Transcendence opens in regular and IMAX theaters in the U.S. on April 18th, 2014.

Source: LA Times, The Film Stage