Transcendence is a decent film. It’s taken almost a week for me to decide that but yesterday I was asked if it was worth seeing and the answer was a definite ‘yes’. What it’s got going for it is a great sci-fi concept that it runs with. And Paul Bettany.
The problem with Transcendence is that, as good as it is, I can’t really describe what ‘a film by Wally Pfister’ is like. It looks great (so great that it could easily lose 30mins by getting rid of establishing shots and cutaways) but that look is without real personality and so is the film in general. There are moments that threaten to break out, one plot development signals an unease that really lifts the whole film just at the right moment, but fittingly this feels like a film without a real soul and you can’t deny that ‘what if?’ shadows of Cronenberg and Carruth etc loom over it.
But it is a decent film and interesting enough to qualify as a real ‘have you seen…?’ movie.
With Aronofsky’s Noah (2014) in cinemas I’ve been thinking about religious cinema or, more accurately, the use of religion in cinema. I’m not religious but the stories and ideas make for great drama and The Rapture is a great example of that.
Written and directed by Michael Tolkin, the film follows a woman (Mimi Rogers) who becomes born again after her encounters with a sect convince her that the Biblical rapture is coming. The strength of the film is in the way that it takes a religious concept and turns it into a supernatural conspiracy. With this comes a heavy air of Cronenberg-ish unease that captures perfectly (I imagine) the fearful wonder of religious revelation.
It’s an odd film and not the easiest of watches but it’s the definition of a hidden gem and a million miles away from the blood thirsty and downright vindictive Left Behind (2000).
1. Another good movie in this area is the Paul Bettany fantasy drama Legion (2010). It’s not massively well regarded and has a few less brain cells but it does have a similar feel to The Rapture and asks the question ‘what if someone said no to God?’. The answer apparently has a lot to do with machine guns.
2. Left Behind, based on the first a massively well selling series of books (I managed one then really couldn’t stand any more), is getting a remake this year starring Nic Cage… so there’s that to look forward to.