April 18, 2014, - 4:55 pm
Only one really crappy movie new in theaters this weekend, and it’s an arthouse flick.
* “Transcendence“: I enjoyed this movie for the first two-thirds of it. It does a great job of social commentary on the dangers of the “Brave New World” era of computer-human hybrids and the tragedies that can result. And the “terrorists” in the movie aren’t black-and-white terrorists either. Scientists and computer experts say we are only about 30 years away from being able to upload a human mind to a computer and vice versa and only about that amount of time away from computers that think and operate for themselves in the ultimate in dangerous artificial intelligence that is beyond our control. This movie elucidates some of the worst that can happen from this.
Although I loathe America-hater Johnny Depp, the movie is good until a last third that is a jumbled mess and repetitive and an ending that isn’t believable or satisfying.
Depp plays a scientist who has uploaded the mind of a rhesus monkey to a computer, which is independent and thinks and acts on its own. An anti-technology terrorist group blows up a number of computer networks at major government labs and, on the same day, tries to murder Depp. He’s shot, but he recovers from the bullet, or so he thought. Soon, doctors discover the bullet has been coated with radiation material and he’s going to die within the month. His wife (Rebecca Hall), desperate to hold on to her husband, insists that he upload himself to a computer, and he agrees. Then, she uploads the computer to the internet, and Depp’s mind is unleashed on the world and all of its computer networks, like a virus. He wants to dominate the world and inject himself into others, all in the guise of helping the world and healing its injured and ill people.
The terrorists in this movie aren’t typical. Led by Kate Mara, at first you believe they are anti-technology crazies. But then you learn that they are, in fact, very tech-savvy former students of Depp who foresaw the destruction his work wrought and could wreak on the world. Even though they are violent, they are trying to save the world from control by independent computers. Some might be troubled by this movie’s justification of terrorism. But in this case, they aren’t really terrorists, so much as brave warriors trying to save humanity. On the other hand, the terrorists’ actions brought the world much closer to this scary reality much more quickly.
Other movies have covered the topic of artificial intelligence taking over and costing lives, such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.” But none have done it with such interesting depth, raising so many moral questions and provoking thought and discussion that must be had as we come closer to this likely reality. At least, none that I’ve seen.
The first 2/3rds of this movie are fascinating and a great exercise in sci-fi that not only doesn’t seem so “fi,” it isn’t. If we are that close to these kinds of things happening, what will we do if independent-thinking computers run amok and take over our world? It isn’t so impossible. Is it?
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Heaven is for Real“: This movie is based on a best-selling book by Pastor Todd Burpo, about his young son’s claimed visit to heaven, when the son is being operated on in the hospital and clinging to life. After the surgery, the son tells of vivid visits to heaven, meeting family members who he was never told existed, and noting the actions of his parents while he was supposedly under anesthesia and being operated on. These are things he couldn’t possibly have known but for divine intervention.
As readers know, I’m not a Christian and I don’t believe Jesus was or is the savior. But, still, I appreciated this religious movie that appeals to people of faith. I do believe that people have or can have out of body experiences in which they temporarily died and saw heaven, angels, and/or G-d. And, so, I appreciated this movie.
Since this is a Christian movie, I was surprised at one or two of the lines in this movie which imply sexual acts, even though it’s between married people. But, overall, it’s fine for family viewing and kids, though they may not understand it entirely. The acting is fine, and the story is entertaining. Greg Kinnear plays Pastor Burpo. But the real star is first time actor, Connor Corum, a very cute six-year-old whose acting skills and poise are well beyond his years.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Joe“: Oy Vey! I cannot believe I sat through this and didn’t walk out. Two hours wasted I’ll never get back. This is absolute garbage. YUUUUUUCK.
Nicolas Cage plays an ex-con who runs a tree-felling business somewhere down South or in Appalachia. I couldn’t exactly tell where, but it’s a rural area that’s very poor. He drinks, is violent, and patronizes prostitutes. And he gets in constant trouble with police. He also shot someone’s dog . . . or something. Amidst all this, he’s “mentoring” the 15-year-old son of nearly-homeless, drunken hillbillies. The son wants to work and is a good worker, and he wants to buy Cage’s old truck. But his drunken father beats him for the money. And the drunken father murders a Black homeless man for his liquor bottle. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the drunken father prostitutes his mute, mentally slow daughter for money for alcohol. In the end, they all have a final confrontation that results in a lot of killing.
The movie has such classy dialogue as this line uttered by Cage in a brothel to a prostitute: “What’s your favorite color? . . . Red? Now blow me.”
If only they’d killed everybody at the beginning and saved me the two hours of this pure Gitmo torture material.
And it should be noted that all of the Black characters in this movie–from the Black tree fellers to the Black cops to the Black wino–are nice guys, hard workers, and victims. And nearly every White person–with the exception of the 15-year-old boy and his mute sister–are horrible people.
Absolute dreck. Whoever greenlighted this crap should be shot. The people who made this are evil. But I’m sure all the liberals will tell me that I just don’t understand or appreciate this “great cinematic art” and “social commentary.” Uh-huh. You keep tellin’ yourself that. This is absolutely depraved trash.
FOUR MARXES PLUS
Watch the trailer . . .