Yesterday we reported on three enigmatic teaser trailers for Wally Pfister’s high-aiming sci-fi film Transcendence. The trailers did a lot to establish the ideas that Transcendence would be playing with, but did very little to illuminate a plot that we still had only a logline for. Well, we can begin to add to that, as the first theatrical trailer for Transcendence is out as well.
Among the key details are the central nature of the characters played by Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall. Bettany and Hall evaded our coverage yesterday, which focused on the voiceover of three other key characters, played by Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, and Kate Mara, but it seems they’ll both be at least as important as the other three in the final story. Bettany is perhaps best known for roles supporting Russell Crowe in both A Beautiful Mind and Master and Commander, but his voice should also be familiar to moviegoers as he plays Tony Stark’s computer system Jarvis (an oddly appropriate role given the premise of Transcendence) in the Iron Man movies. Hall, meanwhile, is also an Iron Man vet (Iron Man 3), and has had key roles in movies such as The Awakening and The Town.
As we discussed yesterday, Transcendence is heavily concerned with the Singularity, a theorized merging of human thought with advanced computing power leading to a radically new form of life. We also mentioned that some saw the Singularity purely as a leap forward in computing power, while others envisioned a true intermingling of the organic and the technological. It now seems that Transcendence will have some of both, with a Singularity researcher named Will (played by Depp) among the scientists chasing a technological fulfillment of the theory. After pro-human/anti-computer terrorists fatally wound Will, his consciousness is uploaded into a computer.
The central question Transcendence seems to be asking is if it really is Will who is alive in the machine, with Bettany and Hall trying to chase down the answer. The broader thematic idea, of course, is one of what it means to be human in a world of ever increasing dependence on technology.
There are still plenty of questions Transcendence needs to answer, but we’ll take it as a good thing that the trailer doesn’t seem to be giving too much away. Transcendence hits theaters April 18.