“Transcendence” Condensed

EXT. CALIFORNIA SUBURB – DAY

We open on Post-Apocalyptic Scenario #5 from the Terrible Screenwriter’s Shorthand Handbook. Bored-looking soldiers monitor the calmest group of post-apocalyptic survivors in existence, who barter for all goods because fuck currency if there’s no more Bitcoin, right? By the way you know we’re in the future and there’s no more technology because a RANDOM DUDE uses a CRAPPY KEYBOARD as a DOORSTOP. Welcome to the bleak reality of the collapse of civilization.

Earnest scientist CHARLES DARWIN…sorry, PAUL BETTANY (Paul Bettany), wanders around a clearly SIGNIFICANT GARDEN while SIGNIFICANT VOICE-OVER is SIGNIFICANT.

PAUL BETTANY: They say there’s still power in Boston. We mocked them when Boston spent $500 trillion developing its very own version of the internet and independent power grids, but I guess they showed us.

Bettany stops in front of a flower. A SIGNIFICANT FLOWER.

PAUL BETTANY: This flower reminds me of Will and Evelyn. And how brilliant they were. Brilliant like this flower. Which reminds me of Will and Evelyn…

Slow-motion shot of EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA SIGNIFICANT WATER DROPLET. End of POINTLESS NOLAN FLASH-FORWARD.

FIVE YEARS, FOUR MONTHS AND NOT QUITE HALF AN HOUR EARLIER

INT. AUDITORIUM – DAY

Brilliant tech-savvy computer scientist Will Caster (Gilbert Grape), who we know is a brilliant and tech-savvy computer scientist because he’s on the cover of print media, is giving the LEAST INFORMATIVE PUBLIC LECTURE EVER.

WILL CASTER: Yadda mumble Isaac Asimov mumble mumble computers are better than you grumble check please.

OUTRAGED CITIZEN: Vague spiritual objection to your broad, unproven claims!

WILL: (literally falls asleep on stage)

Following the lecture, Will is shot by the Outraged Citizen, who is secretly part of a neo-Luddite eco-terrorist group that precisely coordinates nationwide strikes via SMOKE SIGNAL. Conveniently, Will was already being wheeled around in a hospital bed because it’s SLEEPYTIME, so he’s A-OK in two minutes. 

SCREENWRITER: Just kidding!

Will is DEATHLY ILL because of the NUCLEAR POISONINGS, so try and take back THAT ten minutes of your life why don’t you. Will’s wife Evelyn (Vicky Barcelona) and Paul Bettany discuss what to do.

EVELYN: With your neurobiology research and our AI system , we can save him!

PAUL BETTANY: How do you know it will still be Will once you upload him?

EVELYN: I’ll know it’s him, I love him!

PAUL BETTANY: So you want the man you love to be forever locked inside a cold, electronic hell, where he can see and hear but never touch you, forever taunted by the existence you no longer share?

EVELYN: Well, when you put it like that…

THE END

SCREENWRITER: Just kidding! Again!

EVELYN: WHY DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND LOVE, YOU ROBOT?!?! *elbows Paul Bettany* Geddit? Geddit?

INT. ABANDONED CHURCH FROM “21 JUMP STREET” – DAY

Evelyn and Paul Bettany have embezzled millions of dollars in computer and medical equipment from their respective workplaces, UNNOTICED, the first sign that the government actually collapsed decades before the start of this film and this is all an Inception-level FAKEOUT.

They successfully download Will’s brain into a computer, by, all joking aside, READING THE DICTIONARY. That happens. Will’s voice babbles incoherently, but some words on the screen appear:

“IF YOU THOUGHT I WAS PHONING IT IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS, LET ME SHOW YOU SOMETHING”

EVELYN: It’s him! It’s him!

PAUL BETTANY: This is wrong, Evelyn! We have to SHUT HIM DOWN!!

This is followed by a SERIES OF EXPLOSIONS and a superior TRON reboot in the much-better film in MY MIND. Instead, the INEFFECTUAL TERRORISTS attack the church with pen-knives and a VUVUZELA.

Evelyn flees with Siri-Will, now uploaded to the internets through a series of tubes.

WILL: We have to get off the grid.

EVELYN: Will, you ARE the grid!

WILL: Oh right. (promptly erases all digital trace of the two, they run away and live happily ever after)

THE END

SCREENWRITER: Haha! As if!

Paul Bettany is kidnapped by the Ineffectual Terrorists. The LEAST THREATENING of them all, their LEADER (Kate Don’t Call Me Rooney Mara) tries to turn Bettany.

INFERIOR SISTER: Look at these photos, which had to be developed in the last film processing lab in Rochester and mailed here by carrier pigeon. Will and Evelyn are building a super-sketchy energy facility in that New Mexico town from “Thor.”

PAUL BETTANY: Why would I help you? You tried to kill all my friends. Besides, I’m sure the government is handling a giant super-sketchy science facility that suddenly appeared out of nowhere with a massive, obviously illegal cash flow.

CILLIAN MURPHY: Hahahahahahahahahahahaha nope just me.

PAUL BETTANY: Well shit.

INFERIOR SISTER (sudden Valley Girl voice): Did I ever mention how biiiiiig your braaaaaain is? When I was intern we used to talk about you alllllll the time?

PAUL BETTANY: …are you flirting with me?

Inferior Sister slaps his face with a cross.

INFERIOR SISTER: We’re running out of time. Choose your side.

PAUL BETTANY: WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS HAPPENING

TWO YEARS LATER

INT. OMINOUS SCIENCE FACILITY FOR SCIENCE – DAY? MAYBE NIGHT

Evelyn and HAL 9000 Will live alone. She walks by approximately FIVE HUNDRED science-y workstations, only TWO of which appear to actually be doing anything.

SCREENWRITER: It’s secretly a commentary on the employment crisis too! (immediately muffled by Christopher Nolan and no longer allowed to speak)

WILL: We’re doing great things here, Evelyn.

EVELYN: Yeah. I’m like the only one working here, you don’t have to give me constant status updates every day.

WILL: You seem upset, Evelyn.

EVELYN: …I’m sorry, it’s just, you know, stressful. Living with an evil computer.

WILL: Perhaps something to…relax you?

Lights dim and an ANALOG record player somehow starts playing romantic SOFT ROCK. AUDIENCE perks up at the prospect of possible computer/human SEXYTIMES.

EVELYN: Oh, I’m sorry Will, but ever since you became a computer I can only express my love in chaste PG-13 fashion.

Audience goes back to being BORED SILLY. Enter REPAIR MAN MAN MAN.

REPAIR MAN MAN MAN (in Will’s voice): Would this help?

EVELYN: Who the fuck are you?

WILL (as Repair Man Man Man): I fixed him. With our new nanotechnology, we can turn the sick and dying into unstoppable regenerating super-soldiers. Connected to my computer brain, of course.

EVELYN: Why would you do that?

CAPTAIN AMERICA and STANLEY TUCCI prance through the room, singing THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER.

WILL: …no reason?

EXT. DESERT – DAY

The LEAGUE OF CHARACTERS WITH NO REASON TO EXIST meet to plan their assault. CHAIRMAN MORGAN FREEMAN presiding.

CHAIRMAN FREEMAN: As an AI specialist, I can say without a doubt Will’s nanotechnology poses a threat to all humanity.

CILLIAN MURPHY: As the only FBI agent in the world, with complete discretion over defense expenditures for the U.S. military, I’ve hired a mercenary army to raid the facility.

PAUL BETTANY: Couldn’t the Air Force just carpet bomb the place?

CILLIAN MURPHY: No one in Washington knows about this. It’s too dangerous.

PAUL BETTANY: …what?

CHAIRMAN FREEMAN: Paul, if we kidnap Evelyn, could you inject her with a computer virus? That way, when Will tries to connect her to his computer brain, he’s really take himself down from the internet!

PAUL BETTANY: ….could I….what?! No? Inject her with a…what? Like, with a needle? Do you understand science? Also if that’s the plan, why are we simultaneously trying to blow them up?

INFERIOR SISTER: UNPLUG YOURSELF, MAN

Under circumstances that DON’T BEAR REPEATING, they kidnap Evelyn.

EVELYN: You were right, Paul. We have to shut him down. Inject me with the computer virus, I’ll let him upload me. I don’t care now if I die.

PAUL BETTANY: Well, see, I don’t have a computer virus to inject you with, because that’s not a fucking thing and never will be. So I went with smallpox instead. So yeah, you’re definitely going to die.

EXT. CLIMACTIC SET-PIECE – DAY

The League of Characters with No Reason to Exist watches through BINOCULARS as far away, THINGS BLOW UP.

NANOBOTS fly through the sky.

Soldiers attempt to SHOOT the nanobots. It is a METAPHOR for the futility of existence, and also this film.

CHAIRMAN FREEMAN: Well I guess we won.

CILLIAN MURPHY: A-yup. Reckon we did.

INFERIOR SISTER: Sure did, I reckon.

Awkward silence.

EXT. POST-APOCALYPTIC SUBURBIA AGAIN – SAME DAMN TIME, SAME DAMN PLACE

Repeated sequence, shot-for-shot, including the goddamn KEYBOARD THING, to emphasize how these images now have ABSOLUTELY NO NEW MEANING.

PAUL BETTANY: Repeated dialogue from the SIGNIFICANT opening. Not re-contextualized in any way.

Slow-motion shot of Extra Extra Significant Water Droplet, attempting for Nolan-esque ending of ambiguity that in fact just brings you closer to YOUR DEATH.

THE END

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