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Movie Review: “Transcendence”


Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) -- Johnny Depp’s Dr. Will Caster and his wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), want to change the world through artificial intelligence. But Caster is an intellectual hermit: instead of going out into the world and raising money for his research, he’d rather spend his life at home with his beautiful wife, taking care of their garden while creating complex algorithms.  That type of lifestyle just isn’t possible for him because, as indicated by his face on the cover of popular tech magazine WIRED, Will is a tech community rock star.
 
The culmination of Will’s research is PINN (Physically Independent Neural Network), an artificially intelligent computer whose only major flaw is that it’s not self-aware -- a plot point seemingly created only to create conflict later in the movie.
 
Shortly after Will reluctantly delivers a speech about his research and the convergence of artificial intelligence and human intelligence -- which he calls “transcendence” -- an anti-technology zealot attempts to assassinate him.  It’s all part of a coordinated attack on computer labs around the country that support Caster’s research, fearing it will lead to the downfall of society as we know it.
 
Will survives the attack, but not for long.  The bullet he took was laced with a radioactive isotope, leaving him with only weeks to live.
 
Evelyn thinks she can save Will, or at least his mind, by employing PINN tech to essentially upload Will’s brain into cyberspace, where he can live forever.  She’s going to need help, and that’s where their good friend and business partner, Max (Paul Bettany), comes in.  Max helped Will develop the PINN software, and also apparently has some surgical skills -- a convenient plot point which, like so many other aspects of Transcendence, is never explained.
 
The gamble works, but Max soon realizes that the A.I. version of Will may not be Will at all.  It grows more powerful and intelligent by the second, becoming -- ironically -- the very thing the terrorists who tried to kill Will feared, and alarming the government as well.
 
Transcendence feels less like a film title and more like a mission statement, with the filmmakers hoping the movie would transcend its faults and become a fully realized story with fleshed-out characters (Kate Mara from House of Cards is particularly underutilized as the terrorist leader) and intellectually stimulating conversations.  In fairness, there are a few tense moments, but there are also plenty of other moments where you wish the projectionist would stop the movie and throw on Spike Jonze’s Her, a much more subtle and entertaining meditation on a somewhat similar theme.  Transcendence aspires to be a philosophical rumination about the future of artificial intelligence, but it’s really just an exercise in superficial intelligence.
 
Two-and-a-half out of five stars.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Donnie Wahlberg Helped Design Jenny McCarthy's 10-Carat Engagement Ring


ABC (NEW YORK) -- When Donnie Wahlberg was ready to propose to Jenny McCarthy, he wanted the ring to be special.

So, he worked with Daniel Arik of Happy Jewelers and Newport Jewelers to create a one-of-a-kind piece.

"He did have an idea of what he wanted," Arik told ABC News. "We showed him a few different pieces and custom-made his ring."

McCarthy, 41, revealed the couple's happy news on Wednesday's The View. After tearing up while explaining the details of the proposal, she flashed her ring, which Arik called "one-of-a-kind."


ABC US News | ABC Business News

The Blue Bloods star said that McCarthy preferred a colored stone to a diamond. In the end, he chose a 10-carat yellow sapphire surrounded by nearly two carats of diamonds, set in white gold.

"Yellow sapphire is really expensive, especially in that size," Arik said. "You don't find many people buying a 10-carat yellow sapphire!"

When Wahlberg laid eyes on the finished product, "he went crazy," the jeweler recalled.

"It was really nice. When he saw it, he was stunned," he said. "The experience was amazing. Out of all the people I deal with, he was one of the easiest, most pleasant people. It was really fun."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Netflix Releases “Orange Is the New Black” Trailer


Lions Gate Entertainment(NEW YORK) -- In a few weeks, season two of Orange Is the New Black will hit the web.

Now, we have a glimpse of what to expect.

A trailer for the Netflix series was released Thursday -- and many of last season's characters are back in full force, along with a few new faces.

The minute-and-a-half long video begins with Piper, played by Taylor Schilling, making a pointed statement. "I am prepared to behave like a model inmate and I feel I no longer pose a threat," she said, possibly referring to the violent crime she committed at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, Red, played by Kate Mulgrew, may have a new nemesis, who takes a liking to Crazy Eyes, played by Uzo Aduba.

For more, check out the video below. Orange Is the New Black premieres on Netflix on June 6.

 

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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