Monday, April 21, 2014

On Transcendence (and its poor box office)

On Easter Sunday afternoon, I took some youth to see Transcendence.  (And I promise – no spoilers in my comments.)  The IMAX movie theater was sparsely attended.  And the box office numbers from the weekend indicate people were not seeing Transcendence across the nation.  Its run has not started well – and that in spite of the rarity of my seeing a movie on its first weekend!

I find that sad.  Transcendence is a thoughtful movie that raises questions about both the apparent good and not as apparent dangers of man playing God via technology. Both the tower of Babel and the saying “the ends do not justify the ends” came to mind while watching. 

And it goes to pains not to take sides.  Oh, it seems to take sides for a time, but later makes clear things are not so simple.  It becomes intentionally ambiguous about who are the good guys and the bad guys.  Indeed afterwards, one of the more reflective youth interpreted the movie and the good and evil of the actors differently that I did and pointed out ethical issues I had missed.

The ambiguity may frustrate some.  And the movie has gotten mixed reviews at best.  But I think the decision not to take sides is wise and makes the point that questions about man playing God via technology are important, must be addressed, and at the same time are not at all easily answered.

Too many movies are tendentious.  Transcendence is not, and that is particularly good given the subject.  I think this movie deserves a better hearing that it is getting.

My only complaint is the very end seems a too obvious opening for a sequel.  But given the weak box office, a sequel seems unlikely.

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