Johnny Depp is well-known for his portrayals of some strange and eccentric characters. However, his latest role is even more unorthodox than Captain Jack of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the titular role of Rango, The Rum Diaries’ Paul Kemp, or even the vampire Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows. In the upcoming sci-fi thriller Transcendence, Depp will play the role of what is essentially SkyNet from the Terminator films, minus Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Transcendence, the directorial debut of Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister, tells the story of Dr. Will Caster (Depp), who is working to create an sentient artificial intelligence. Caster is shot by people who oppose his work, but his fellow researchers manage to upload his consciousness into his machine before he dies. This decision proves to have dire consequences, as A.I. Caster soon plots to rid the world of humanity. You know, typical evil computer stuff. Check out the latest trailer for the movie below:
Admittedly this is just a trailer, but from what I can see, it seems like the movie might have some trouble with its tone(s). At the start of the video, it’s a science fiction drama that asks questions about what the future of artificial intelligence might mean for organic life and how people might react to sentient machines. Suddenly, all those intriguing questions are pushed aside in favor of explosions and machine gun fire, because apparently this is a Terminator-type action film now.
Of course, science fiction. drama, and action can co-exist in one film. District 9 is a great example of how to balance the three brilliantly. It is important to seamlessly merge the divergent elements of competing tones in a smart and compelling manner. Otherwise one might outweigh the others or all of them could become watered down drivel. For example, 2011’s In Time suffers from the fact that its science-fiction, drama, and action movie elements are all half-baked and underwhelming.
I hope that the action of this movie doesn’t overshadow the important questions it asks about where we could go with artificial intelligence research. We’ll see if Transcendence is capable of pulling off a skillful merger of different genres when it’s released on April 17th. If not, at least Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy will be there to ease the pain.
What do you think the future of artificial intelligence holds for us? If you were a SkyNet-type entity, would you be a benevolent power that helped humanity or a tyrant bent on destroying the meat sacks on this planet? Share your plans in the comments!