Transcendence – Radio Film Review

Johnny Depp goes digital in TRANSCENDENCE
Johnny Depp goes digital in TRANSCENDENCE

So because of Hour of the Wolf’s pre-emption last week, my review of TRANSCENDENCE, the science fiction romantic thriller in which Johnny Depp’s consciousness is loosed on the Web and a number of people — including Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy — fret about what that means for the fate of humankind (hint: How do you feel about nanobots everywhere?), was held for airing on this week’s show. Which is cool — I mean, the film, unfortunately, doesn’t live up to the promises of its premise, but the notion of what happens to humanity as it begins to intersect more and more with technology is so potent that I feel an examination of what director Wally Pfister did right and wrong in exploring the concept is still worthwhile. So, tardy though it may be, please enjoy this latest segment.
(Interestingly, HotWolf host Jim Freund so liked last week’s review of 23:59 — which was intended only to run on the Web — that he also included it in this week’s show. So we were actually ahead of the curve in that sense. BTW: If you tried to listen to that segment earlier this week and the player was broken, it’s now fixed. Give it a shot & enjoy!)
Click on the player to hear the review.


Transcendence – Spotlight Podcast 5:16.1

It's a brave but not especially bold new world faced by (clockwise from top)Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman in TRANSCENDENCE.
It's a brave but not especially bold new world faced by (clockwise from top) Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman in TRANSCENDENCE.

It’s some kind of irony that the experience of watching a film called TRANSCENDENCE is far from transcendent. Not that director Wally Pfister doesn’t try: The story of a scientist working in A.I. research (Johnny Depp) who has his own consciousness transferred to the Web is lushly mounted (as befits a big-studio production from the man who previously served as Christopher Nolan’s director of photography), reliant on an atypically grounded mise en scene that emphasizes the love story between Depp’s scientist and his colleague wife (Rebecca Hall),  and chock full of actors who can deliver skilled performances (joining Depp and Hall are Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara and Paul Bettany). Unfortunately, it’s that restraint, along with poor plotting (Really? We’re supposed to empathize with anti-technology terrorists whom we’ve previously seen murdering a roomful of innocent people with poisoned cake? Really?), that leaves the film as a promise unfulfilled.
The Cinefantastique Online team of Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons get together to weigh what went right and what wrong with this ambitious attempt at  dramatic science fiction. Click on the player to hear the show.


THE AWAKENING limited release

Cohen Media Group gives a limited U.S. release to this 2011 British horror film about an author who debunks claims of the supernatural. Rebecca Hall plays the skeptical Florence Cathcart, who is called upon by teacher Robert Malory (Dominic West) to investigate the alleged ghost of a student haunting his school.
The script by Stephen Volk and director Nick Murphy has some parallels with HAUNTED, has some parallels with HAUNTED, the 1995 based on James Herbert’s novel, which also featured a professional debunker investigating a supernatural claim that could turn out to be true.
Screenwriter Volk should be a familiar name to genre buffs, thanks to his prolific credits, dating back to the 1980s: Ken Russell’s GOTHIC, William Friedkin’s THE GUARDIAN, and THE KISS.
THE AWAKENING opened in Britain and other territories late last year.
U.S. Release date: August 17, 2012