“Transcendence” & “
A couple of interesting
The premise of
“Transcendence” is that, in a not-too-distant future, we’re closer
to figuring out artificial intelligence than anybody realizes.
In fact, there are a bunch of
super-scientists who have actually worked together to perfect the process,
and are enthusiastic about how much this would benefit society as a whole.
But there are certain rogue
elements ---violent hippies?----who fear and loathe the new technology,
which they consider invasive.
Not content with just protesting at
scientific conferences, they have “taken it to the streets” by
actually doing physical violence against the top researchers, including
Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp).
His wife and co-researcher, Evelyn (Rebecca
Hall), is understandably devastated when she learns that the bullet used
to wound her husband was infected with radioactive poisoning.
Though he survived the shooting itself, he
still has a very short time to live.
Ah, but wait, we have the
technology now. Convert
Dr. Will Caster’s beautiful mind into a computer memory, and not only
can his important work be continued, but she would have her beloved
husband back, right?
Well, kinda sorta.
While a virtual spouse might be appealing at
certain moments of intractable conflict, a computer memory won’t keep
you warm at night. Evelyn,
at first, is overwhelmed with emotion that she might actually be
interacting with the “eternal spirit” of her late husband, through a
computer screen. But
then it starts getting weird.
The computer’s consciousness gets
ambitious, and wants access to the Internet, and wants more memory.
Much more memory.
It manages to create a visual image of Dr.
Caster that looks and sounds eerily like him.
What’s next, a virtual reconstruction?
And what happens when a control-freak
powerful supercomputer goes out of control, in the interest of guarding
its own security?
Yes, that idea has been around
at least since the computer named “Hal” in “2001:
A Space Odyssey” (released in 1968).
But here, the notion of computer
transcendence takes it to a new level.
And therein lies an idolatry that we should
all readily fear and loathe.
Fear and loathing is what we
have in “Brick Mansions,” which is the derisive name of a Detroit
ghetto in the not-too-distant future, where the city simply builds a wall
around the super-slum and calls it a lost cause, and leaves it to the
gangs and drug lords and casual brutality.
Just gives up on it.
But the new mayor has a new
idea: tear it all down and construct some new urban development.
The problem is, there are people who are
still living there. What
to do with the inconvenience of their existence?
You can probably guess where this is going.
Underground anarchistic groups make such good
scapegoats, because they can never successfully defend themselves from
Damien (Paul Walker) is an
undercover cop who teams with a local, Lino (David Belle) to try to bring
order to this uber-urban Wild West, but sometimes the deputized posse can
look like a bunch of tough hombres.
This movie is actually a showcase for a form
of martial arts that is both military and gymnastic, but of course after
scores of hand combat scenes it begins to feel more like a video game.
The real interest in this movie is that it
was Paul Walker’s last film, before his unfortunate demise, ironically,
in a car that was going too fast:
a tragic malevolent twist on life imitating
But all the seemingly mindless
violence actually grows a conscience at the end, like a populist uprising
against those greedy industrialists who care nothing for the needs of
ordinary citizens. Which
makes “Brick Mansions” like Robin Hood doing rap.
A couple of interesting
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen,
Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,