April 28, 2014 12:00 PM

TRANSCENDENCE

Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany | PG-13 |

SCI-FI

Transcendence ends with a digital Armageddon so devastating that “connectivity” means little more than the vague rumor that power grids and phone service might still exist somewhere. That’s not a spoiler, by the way. You’ll learn that within the film’s first five minutes. The aggravation is that you’ll spend the next 114 meandering through a muddled tech drama/sci-fi think piece/thriller/romance/disaster flick that’s only intermittently intriguing because of a few fine actors.

Depp leads the way as Will Caster, a pioneer in artificial intelligence. After he’s poisoned by terrorists, Will and his wife, Evelyn (Hall), upload his mind into a computer before he dies, over the objections of their friend and fellow egghead Max (Bettany). Once Will is on the Web, the film is off and running. Well, more like wandering with no clear sense of where it’s headed.

Depp may be the draw, but he’s only present in the flesh for a fraction of the time. He gives a muted, purposely creepy turn, as Will and Evelyn build a tech fortress with its own army, riling the terrorists (including Kate Mara) anew. The movie truly belongs to Hall, who gamely rides waves of grief, love and terror, and Bettany, who acts as the film’s conscience, asserting that technology should serve us, not become us. (Freeman is wasted as a computer whiz caught in the madness.) It’s natural to compare the film to last year’s Her, but Transcendence can’t compete. Quite simply, it just doesn’t think that far ahead.

DRAFT DAY

Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary | PG-13 |

COMEDY/DRAMA

He’s pitched, putted and pedaled in movies, so Costner might as well tackle football, even if it is in a sluggish comedy. He’s charming as Cleveland Browns manager Sonny Weaver Jr., who makes a risky trade for a first-round pick on the day his girlfriend (Garner), a Browns exec, reveals she’s pregnant. But there’s no time for the personal as Sonny plays the NFL’s version of liar’s poker. This is high-stakes action with a low-energy script. (Where’s Moneyball’s Aaron Sorkin when you need him?) It all turns around in the kinetic final half hour, but miraculous fourth-quarter saves play better on the field than they do onscreen.

FADING GIGOLO

John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis | R |

COMEDY/DRAMA

Fioravante (Turturro)needs money. Murray (Allen) knows wealthy, lonely women. So Murray turns pimp and Fioravante goes pro, servicing clients played by Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara. (Oh, just go with it.) But the film, directed by Turturro, wants to be more than a sexy farce, as widow Avigal (Paradis) beguiles Fioravante. The plot swings wildly between silly and serious, but it still entertains.

You May Like

EDIT POST