The creation of artificial intelligence has long been a staple of the science fiction world, with numerous stories about the creation of machine based intelligence, that somehow inevitably turns against its creator, or the wider world. The latest movie offering on this theme is Transcendence, though from a look at the trailer it seems they’ll be weaving in some wider issues too.
The basic outline is that Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) takes the lead as an artificial intelligence researcher who develops a machine with potential to collate the world’s intelligence. This makes him a target for anti-technology extremists who destroy research labs and attempt to kill Will himself. However this forces the hand of his researchers, who take the decision to incorporate Will into his creation. Inevitably this throws up a slew of moral and ethical issues, as Will’s sentience grows, and the researchers that create him begin to lose their control…
Certainly the premise has potential to be really interesting. The idea of cheating death, by incorporating your consciousness with a machine is fascinating, though of course this will depend on how the topic is handled. The idea of anti-technology protestors is also a fairly interesting addition. However with a range of existing films that explore similar topics (I Robot, AI, Skynet in Terminator) Transcendence will really need to have a strong and unique story in order to stand out from the crowd.
…this is his first foray in feature film directing…
Director Wally Pfister is an award winning cinematographer (Inception, The Dark Knight), but this is his first foray in feature film directing. However the cast features an impressive range of known stars, led by Johnny Depp, also featuring Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy and Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman.
It’s an intriguing proposition, coming from an unknown entity. While certainly not a guaranteed hit, it looks like it’s worth a watch.
Transcendence is released in the UK on 25th April 2014