“Transcendence” is receiving overall horrible reviews and I find this to be a TRAVESTY. “Transcendence” takes its place in my heart as one of the most well-made, beautiful, emotion-wrecking films I’ve ever seen and here’s why, plebes.
The Glorious Irony
Johnny Depp’s character comments on the irony of the luddite organization RIFT (Revolutionary Independence From Technology) early on when he says their willingness to take a life in pursuit of their protection of the human race is ironic. This really isn’t ironic because the sacrifice of one for the good of the many is age-old, Machiavellian, and more than accepted in modern practice (‘sup, war).
The true irony of RIFT is their dependence on technology to achieve their goals. They kill with guns/radiation, they globally position their targets, they use flashlights for Pete’s sake… essentially they fight fire with fire even though their stance is “No Fire!”.
This isht is awesome social commentary, and if you don’t think so you can just gtfo. Despite our unquestioned respect for our man Gandhi we indulge in violence and beget violence willingly and preach against it after the fact. We commit acts of war in our intent to condemn those who do the same. Religious zealots verbally and physically assault thy neighbor in defense of personal beliefs that demand restraint from assault, and then call First Amendment rights while simultaneously trying desperately to restrict those rights to others as it fits them. Similarly, Luddites of each generation depend on the technology of the previous and hail the products as a necessary convenience (lol at the oxymoron) of life while calling the advancement of the next a danger to humanity. Did you know people thought pencils with erasers would cause laziness, and the telephone would be the end of social life? And hey, don’t forget the Sumerians feared written language despite the fact that they developed it. People are silly.
The Magic and Irrationality of Perspective
The most magnificent component to this film is the fact that there is no bad guy. This is a story built on good intentions and bad ideas. RIFT wants to rescue humanity from the inherent evil of A.I. and its ability to both crave and achieve total control; Will and Evelyn want to heal the Earth and its inhabitants with the help of nano technology and a greater consciousness; Max wants to do both; Brightwood citizens see in the good in A.I. Will through the scope of their desire for a better life; computer Will wants to help everyone and everything; Evelyn wants to help everyone and everything and then has kind of a Max moment… Nobody wants to execute anything evil. Everybody wants to do the right things. It all depends on their perceptions of the technology and which direction each thinks it will go. The ENTIRE balance of the film hinges on the tipping point of Evelyn’s perception of PINN Will.
Like… That is AMAZING.
The Emotional Encompassment of That Which is Removed from Human Emotion
Technology, the way we understand it, is the only part of us which is entirely removed from the encumbrance of human emotion. Thus the concept of A.I. is so frighteningly exciting and excitingly frightening. Despite technology’s removal from the entire spectrum of human emotion, the plot of this film is 100% driven by that with which it does not tango. The climax of the film rests completely on the emotions of the characters and not strategy, intelligence, or really anything else. The pivotal actions are emotion-driven, which is unusual for any film, but especially one embedded in technology. The inherent dependence on human emotional function for technology to progress to unnecessary or inadvisable areas is… fascinating. Because of A.I.’s questionable nature and our reluctance to embrace it, it stands to reason that the motivation to achieve such a terrifying end must be human desperation. No person in his or her right mind would do what Evelyn did without irrational thought.
The irony of these irrationalities is that the human brain’s capacity for conflicting functions from multiple areas of the brain is what creates them and, consequently, us. In full-circle awesomeness, this is where the concept of true A.I. falls apart and where we address the final and most super fun facet of this kickass film:
Is It Really Will?
The question of the film is ultimately: Is this computer actually Will?
Max’s fear is that the likelihood of PINN uploading Will’s consciousness without so much as a missed megabyte of data is valid and just as terrifying as he thinks it is. However, we see throughout the film that the computer didn’t miss even the tiniest cognitive memory.
The real issue of inexactness is not the contents of the consciousness but the processes: the inescapable irrationality of the human brain. Can a computer duplicate the unpredictability of a human brain affected by external influences? Of fricking course not. Thus, the computer is NOT Will.
But it is Will. PINN didn’t miss a bit, so the consciousness is Will’s. It’s only that the Will that PINN becomes two years later is not the Will that Will would have been if Will hadn’t been uploaded. Say that five times fast.
The development of his personality and his reactions to external events are entirely different than those that would have been if Will were still capable of human mental function, which he is decidedly not.
The true fear, though, is Will’s capacity to be corrupted by the power he holds in the form of PINN and his inherent evil that came prepackaged with his human nature, as it does us all. In the end we see that he was, in fact, uncorrupted and that the entirety of RIFT’s argument was based on the negative perception of the possibility of corruption rather than the facts as they were presented, which is another one of those lovely social commentaries.
So, yes… and no. Will was Will but he wasn’t Will as Will would have been if he weren’t PINN Will. But in Will’s case, that didn’t mean he wasn’t inherently good.
This story is one of the strongest commentaries on the human existence and all its nature, intentions, and susceptibility to impressions I have EVER SEEN. It’s riddled with irony, good intentions, bad ideas, and overall emotional destruction. If you don’t like this movie, you don’t know ART, MOTHER CLUCKER.