Joaquin Phoenix enjoys puppy love with an artificially-intelligent operating system in the buzzed-about Spike Jonze sci-fi/romance Her, but according to Transcendence – the directorial debut for The Dark Knight trilogy cinematographer Wally Pfister – self-aware computers will be intent on controlling the world, and less concerned with trying to make lonely guys happy.
Marketing for Transcendence commenced this week, first with a couple of teasers that provided different perspectives on the idea of progress in the field of artificial intelligence, and followed by a viral clip from the fictional organization RIFT – an anti-technology group featured in the film – warning against the development of computers with a conscious. Now Warner Bros. has gone ahead and unveiled a full-length trailer for Pfister’s sci-fi drama/thriller (based on a script by relative newcomer Jake Paglen).
Transcendence introduces us to Will Castor (Johnny Depp) and his wife/fellow scientist Evelyn, who are the foremost researchers in the A.I. field – having made significant progress on developing a sentient computer that (according to the official synopsis) will combine “the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions.” Tragedy strikes and Evelyn makes the ill-advised choice to upload Will’s consciousness to their experimental supercomputer, in a desperate attempt to save his life. That, as they say, is when things get really real.
Warner Bros.’ decision to give Transcendence an IMAX releases makes more sense, based on the startling visuals and arresting images featured in the trailer, be it computer Johnny Depp’s (literal) fields of data storage or what happens when Will 2.0 decides that the human race is due for a serious upgrade.
Transcendence footage thus far has been quite grave and unnerving, though that hasn’t stopped people from cracking jokes about the numerous past films, books, and video games that have covered similar territory – ranging from 2001: A Space Odyssey to The Lawnmower Man, The Matrix and recent game titles like Portal and Deus Ex. Indeed, the idea of A.I. gone wild is ripe for (re-)examining in our digital era, but it’s by no means unexplored territory – something that Steven Spielberg acknowledged, with regard to his (currently-stalled) upcoming Robopocalypse movie.
That said, Transcendence seem like a promising spin on the premise, and with a strong cast – rounded out by Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Paul Bettany and Kate Mara – directed by a filmmaker with a proven eye for striking composition, this one ought to be worth a look.
Transcendence opens in regular and IMAX theaters on April 18th, 2014.