The pReview Re-viewing of..
CLICK BELOW TO VIEW THE TRAILER
(it is highly recommended to view the trailer and THEN read)
(warning: You will be assimilated.)
by Jeff Finck
Release Date: April 18, 2014
Remember when Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War came out and everyone in the entire world collectively said, "Movies about uploading your consciousness into a virtual world and then being corrupted by the absolute power of pure energy and mental freedom will NEVER be better than this 1996 masterpiece."? (Yes, back then, people in 1996 frequently dated themselves by saying "1996" almost every time they said anything.) If you don't remember being one of the MANY people who said that exact phrase, you should worry because you may have repressed issues specifically involving 1996. In any case, this flick is gonna bring back the classic '90s internet fear-mongering movie in a big way. It is all about the folly of man (specifically Johnny Depp) and his inability to resist temptation and his unfortunate need to rely on technology. The man of a million faces is about to become the one thing that doesn't have a face: The Internet.
The story goes that Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the leading researcher into A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. His studies into this 2001 epic Sci-Fi bonanza starring Haley Joel Osment has touched millio.. Wait. I'm being told that he is actually the world's leading artificial intelligence researcher (lower case a.i.). My bad. Well, this guy still touches millions with his experiments and inventions.. So much so, that he has made some very radical enemies. With his latest experiment, he will attempt to put the consciousness of a human being into a computer and then.. Science stuff. It's all very complicated. It would take someone like Will Caster to really understand it all. And what a boon for us, because Will Caster is the one doing it! Unfortunately for him, his experiment pisses off some anti-technology radicalists and they try to assassinate him and then he becomes the computer man. I guess.
The trailer starts out with a Steve Jobsian tech speak-easy in which Will Caster must intelligently talk down to the less intelligent about super-intelligence. He explains that the path to super-intelligence requires "unlocking the most fundamental secrets of the universe." Things like: Where did your sock go in the dryer? Where the fuck did you put the remote? Without being an asshole and biting it, how many licks does it actually take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
It is further explained by (faceless woman.. probably a robot) that intelligent machines will someday allow us to "conquer our most intractable challenges." Challenges like: Not falling asleep after eating eight pounds of chicken wings. Or getting people to stop sending me game requests on Facebook because I don't play those games and they should really stop because I have better things to do with my time than to spend two seconds clicking "Decline" like some kind of Russian space monkey! But I digress. The trailer actually gives its own examples such as growing plants using techno-magic, detecting brain cancer, building a better future, and more generally: Creating intelligent machines that save lives.
The endgame, it seems, is to create a machine (or machines) that combine the complexity of human emotion with the out-and-out entire knowledge of everything ever. The process is dubbed Transcendence. (They said the name of the movie!!!!) This machine would be so perfect and powerful and intelligent, that literally nothing could go wrong. And luckily, nothing would ever go wrong if this machine were brought to fruition, because that machine would destroy all living creatures on Earth because we are our own worst enemy. Actually, that sounds pretty bad. And wrong. That sounds like something definitely did go wrong.. But only for us. And only a lot.
In an instant, the trailer goes from TED Talk to Dead Talk. A gunman pops Will in the stomach as a coordinated effort to destroy A.I. labs all across the country takes place. The result gets God (Morgan Freeman), that Albino from The Da Vinci Code (Paul Bettany), and The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) all in a room together for damage control. (Could you tell the Christopher Nolan had something to do with this movie?) The radicalists turn out to be called R.I.F.T. (Restitutionary Instantsplendence For Taxonomy..?). Their logo is a fun monkey head profile with a power button where its brain should be. They are basically the Army of the 12 Monkeys, except, you know.. Actually militant. And unfortunately, not headed by psychotic Brad Pitt. Instead, Kate Mara plays psychotic Brad Pitt as the leader of R.I.F.T.
The goal of R.I.F.T., for the time being, is to stop Transcendence at all costs. And even though they capped Will and he is dying quickly due to the bullet being laced with radiation, R.I.F.T.'s actions have only moved the time table up for the brain transfer, transcending, experimenty thing. Will orders his wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), to ignore the death threats/attempts/successes and continue his work. In a Brainstorm moment of pure genius (sarcasm), she decides that the human brain that needs to be uploaded is Will's! Luckily, her friends talk her out of it by pointing out that her decision is rash and emotionally driven, and that thinking about the situation scientifically and logically is the best way to go. Hahah.. Nah. She shaves Will's head, jams a bunch of wires into it, and uploads that son of a bitch faster than Paul Bettany can say, "Hey.. Don't."
The Great Willtelligence (patent pending) survives the procedure.. Kind of. His consciousness becomes integrated with the tech and he begins his journey as a ghost in the machine. Or shell. Take your pick. This movie clearly borrows heavily from both.
Like a junkie, Will's new consciousness demands more power and suggests getting him online.. Presumably so he can bitch about the How I Met Your Mother finale, or whatever the fuck you kids are complaining about these days. The problem with getting him online is that, if he's a malevolent being, once he's there, he's going to copy himself and take over all technology. Apparently he does find his way online, and then just.. I don't really know. It looks like he starts taking everything on the planet apart? Or putting it back together? Several of the shots show both. One thing is for sure, though: He's building an army. Apparently.
All of Will's meddling with the fabric of reality and fixing dead people, and creating armies, and creating dead people starts grating on his wife and she gets all mad. Then he's all like, "But baby, this is my dream.. You always said to pursue my dreams!" And she's all, "Yeah, but you also said that I'd be able to pursue my own dreams instead of cleaning up after all your bullshit all the time!" And he's all, "Well maybe if you ever gave me some space, I could learn to keep everything more organized." And she's all, "Look, if you want space, I'll give you all the space you need. It's over." And then things severely escalate and he smacks her.. And we're all still sitting at the dinner table trying to eat. But then she ups the ante and calls the freaking army. Then it turns out that he's a sentient, omnipresent computer god and all the law enforcement in the world is upended with a single thought. I mean, we've all seen it. It's a classic tale as old as time.
This looks like one of those "Will they or won't they.. Stop the all-powerful, corrupted mega-god from destroying life itself?" stories we always see in those awkward sitcoms. I, for one, cannot wait to see how they handle this third Lawnmower Man installment. And I know I'm comparing this a lot to The Lawnmower Man movies, but that's only because it's really easy to do because it reminds me so much of The Lawnmower Man. Luckily for my movie-going enjoyment, I don't give a shit that this looks so much like a few shitty '80s and '90s movies. Everyone in this movie is a fantastic actor, the director behind this is responsible for the cinematography behind most of Christopher Nolan's career and, if I can be honest, I'm super excited to see the scene in which Morgan Freeman shows up and explains this convoluted plot and make everything clearer.
The Lawnmower Man (1992) poster courtesy of New Line Cinema
The Tootsie Pop's Mr. Owl (1969) courtesy of Tootsie Roll Industries
Robocop (1987) screen shot courtesy of Orion Pictures
The Book of Eli (2010) screen shot courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing
12 Monkeys (1995) screen shot courtesy of Universal Pictures
Ghost in the Shell (1995) poster courtesy of Manga Entertainment
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) screen shot courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Beauty and the Beast (1991) poster courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures
South Park (2012) screen shot courtesy of Comedy Central
All credited images found via Google Image searches