Transcendence is an offensively stupid movie and should not be watched by anyone. On reflection, it’s a far worse movie than dozens of films that are face value lousy, because it attempts to say very serious things on topics of which its makers are comprehensively ignorant. It’s ostensibly a meditation on the dangers of technology. But since no one involved in the writing had the slightest clue how technology actually works, the end result is what you’d get if Jenny McCarthy was convinced that her iPod was giving her kid autism.
What happens if you upload a human brain into a computer? Well naturally it takes thirty seconds for it to become SkyNet, and then you get T-1000s, and an underground movement of technophobes is our only hope. No seriously, that’s the plot of the movie. They took Terminator 2, stripped out all action and three-fourths of its frontal lobe, and then filmed the drooling mess for two hours with enough somber gravity that it sucks the humor out of comedies six screens over at the multiplex.
Nanotechnology maaaan. And Frankenstein. Like, a computer can’t understand love, because human emotion contains contradictions. The Internet is just a tool of the surveillance state, bro, and when computers become sentient, they’ll know everything about us and then it’s game over man, game over.
This movie is a two hour TED talk on the pitfalls of technology delivered by the brownie vendor from Burning Man.
So we have a group of luddite assholes who stage a bunch of terrorist attacks and mass murder scientists at the start of the film. They poison their food so they die choking at their desks, set bombs to tear them apart, and then just shoot one with a radioactive bullet for good measure, in front of his wife and friends. They’ve got little wrist tattoos that say “unplug” and believe they are revolutionaries trying to prevent the inevitable destruction of the human race by an awakened artificial intelligence. And mind you, this isn’t happening at some point in the future where there might be some story reasons for these concerns. It’s effectively contemporaneous.
Remember how Sarah Connor went after Miles Dyson, and it was the worst thing ever to kill an innocent man doing research, even though she actually had evidence of what his inventions would do in the form of a walking talking Terminator? Now picture a group of people who saw that scene in a theater, and apropos of nothing else, said: “yeah! Let’s massacre computer scientists.” Oh, and those are our good guys. These anti-intellectual sociopathic nazi fucks are the edgy Cassandras of the piece.
Excuse me while I vomit at the idea that “there are some things men aren’t meant to know” and “let’s murder scientists who have the gall to try to understand the universe” are still considered thoughtful and serious topics of discussion by whatever dim-witted hundred dollar haircut in a thousand dollar suit greenlit this monument to technophobic ignorance.
I’m trying to think of a more eloquent response, but mostly am just seeing red at this point and entire sentences appear to be forming on the screen, composed of nothing but pixels and profanity. I see a lot of really bad movies in this line of work. And that’s fine. There’s a joy in it, something interesting and unique about just about anything that someone cared enough to put on film.
This film though? This might be the angriest a film has ever made me. Don’t give them your money. Don’t reward this type of willful ignorance.
Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here and order his novel here.