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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

Monday, June 15, 2015

Seth Baum's movie review of Transcendence

For a change, I'm linking to a movie review by someone else: Seth Baum's review of Transcendence, which we published in the Journal of Evolution and Technology last year. Warning: This is (a bit) more like a full-scale academic discussion than an ordinary review, so it gives away the plot. Don't read it unless you've seen the movie or don't mind spoilers for it.

Transcendence flopped at the box office, which may be understandable for such a cerebral movie (even if the ideas were slightly dumbed down, and, indeed, could not have been dumbed down much further without becoming risible). It was never going to make the same kind of profit as an action blockbuster or even an SF movie - like Gravity or Interstellar - that combines a certain amount of genuine science with relentless scenes of intense danger and trauma.

More worryingly, Transcendence was also a failure with the critics; only a minority praised it. I can pick fault with it myself, but it's an involving, intelligent, thought provoking piece of cinema that deserved more sympathy and attention. Its failure with the critics and at the box office has to be a disincentive to others who might try something similar. If you're among those who are fond of Transcendence, you'll be interested in what Baum has to say.

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