What? You were expecting Johnny Depp becoming a computer and Morgan Freeman talking about how he’s unstoppable? Too bad, you get a much better movie.
Independent movies and small group movies often take huge risks that will either fail miserably or work spectacularly. They will do this as a way to make their films stick out from all the others.
Part of the reason I often cannot get invested in independent movies and short films is because they fail to grab my attention. These films will, more often than not, tell the story of someone we all know but with little unique characters thrown in and with little deviation. If that’s the case, then there isn’t much going on there. Why should I care about something that I’ve seen a million time before and will see another million times?
Occasionally, you come across a short film that does get your attention and not only peaks your interests, but also makes you want to get invested in the story and characters. One such film is Chris Mirjahangir’s “Transcendence” and the world he has created within this story. Not only are the effects at the level of a major motion picture, but the lore and mythology behind this film makes it an impressive, compact experience.
A family has just returned from a weekend of camping in the mountains, only to find that a car on the side of the road that has bodies surrounding it. Baffled by what they find, they are soon captured at gun point and taken to a small group, where their leader tells them about a recent demon attack that has begun to wipe out the human population.
When I watched “Transcendence,” I first noticed how much it paid homage to the Godzilla films, without directly referencing them. The roars of the demons are reminiscent of certain Godzilla monsters, especially Destoroyah. While the soundtrack contained hints of music from the long-running series as well, making it feel like throwbacks to the many attacks of the king of the monsters. This makes the movie work in subtle and unique ways.
Speaking of the music, this helps add to how big and impressive this movie feels. The music is performed by a full-piece orchestra, which is nearly unheard of for a short film. The effects on the demons are also on the same level, especially since each demon has its own unique design and always has battle scars and wounds that carry over. It makes the film feel massive in scope and budget, as if this was done by a Hollywood studio.
It is made all the more impressive when you realize most of it was done by Chris Mirjahangir.
The world of “Transcendence” is one of the more intriguing aspects, as we learn more about how the demons work and the idea of transcendence. To the people who survived the demon attack, these monsters are more than just a legend. They are an inevitability and they must rise above it.
To find so much out of a compact film is stunning to see unfold. If “Transcendence” isn’t giving us wonderfully executed action sequences, it is filling us in with tragic characters who only care about survival against an impossible enemy. It quickly establishes mood and atmosphere with just a few quick lines and never lets the audience go.
I’ll take that over Johnny Depp becoming digital any day.
Final Grade: A-