Metascore
42

Mixed or average reviews - based on 45 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 45
  2. Negative: 10 out of 45
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Apr 17, 2014
    100
    Transcendence is a bold, beautiful, sometimes confounding flight of futuristic speculation firmly rooted in the potential of today’s technology.
  2. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Apr 17, 2014
    70
    An ambitious and provocative piece of work that is intriguingly balanced between being a warning and a celebration.
  3. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Apr 17, 2014
    70
    Transcendence is a dark, lurchingly entertaining pastiche of age-old worries, future-shock jolts, hot-button topics and old-fashioned genre thrills.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 18, 2014
    67
    Moderately entertaining, periodically draggy, Transcendence is not as wacky-visionary as “The Matrix,” or nearly as lyrical as “Her.”
  5. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Apr 16, 2014
    67
    While never as dynamically involving as Christopher Nolan's "Inception," for which longtime Nolan director of photography Pfister justifiably won an Oscar, Transcendence still grapples with provocative existential concepts in similarly thoughtful terms.
  6. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Apr 18, 2014
    63
    Echoing the lessons learned from "HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey," the message of Transcendence is that computers should not be allowed to become sentient.
  7. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Apr 18, 2014
    63
    Apart from Mychael Danna’s portentous orchestral and electronic score, Transcendence simply lacks oomph: Shots don’t overwhelm, scenes don’t pop and nothing on the screen gets under your skin.
  8. Reviewed by: Matt Zoller Seitz
    Apr 17, 2014
    63
    The most galling thing about Transcendence, though, isn't its inability to get a handle on what, if anything, it wants to say about the enormous changes happening to the human race, it's the movie's ending, which seems calculated to reassure us that everything's going to be fine as long as the right people are in charge, especially if they're good looking.
  9. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Apr 16, 2014
    60
    A movie that’s of two minds. It’s well-grounded, but also over the top. It’s a man-vs.-machine epic and also an intimate drama. It’s quirky-smart yet sci-fi silly. And it winds up being half as good as it could be.
  10. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Apr 17, 2014
    58
    A thoroughly mundane experience.
  11. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Apr 27, 2014
    50
    Transcendence is a muddle; it takes more creative energy than this to catch up to the present. [28 April 2014, p.86]
  12. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Apr 18, 2014
    50
    Transcendence looks and sounds like a Christopher Nolan film that got attacked by malware.
  13. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Apr 18, 2014
    50
    Transcendence never quite succeeds at telling a story of scientific overreach. And it doesn’t really click as an action movie either. But as a human tragedy of man and monster, of beauty and beast, it has just enough genuine pathos that you wish it were better.
  14. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Apr 18, 2014
    50
    Watching it all unfold and slowly go off the rails, you can't help but wonder what Pfister's mentor, Nolan, might have done with the same material. My guess is he would have sent the script back for a Page One rewrite for starters.
  15. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Apr 17, 2014
    50
    Science fiction has an obligation to seduce the viewer into applying the "willing suspension of disbelief." With its plot holes and head-scratching incongruities, Transcendence fails in this arena thereby making the production as a whole feel bloated and unsatisfying.
  16. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Apr 17, 2014
    50
    The story soon devolves into a far-fetched, futuristic snooze-fest that often defies its own logic. Characters' motivations are rarely clear, and allegiances shift with no explanation.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Apr 17, 2014
    50
    There’s a lot of intelligence in Transcendence. Ironically, almost all of it feels artificial.
  18. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 17, 2014
    50
    An ambitious movie, but ultimately there’s too much “artificial” and not enough “intelligence.”
  19. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Apr 17, 2014
    50
    Transcendence is a movie without villains, thrills or, after Nolan fanboys show up, much of an audience.
  20. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Apr 17, 2014
    50
    After an intriguing start, Transcendence — aka "The Computer Wore Johnny Depp's Tennis Shoes" — offers roughly the same level of excitement as listening to hold music during a call to tech support.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Apr 17, 2014
    50
    Clever ideas early on go rogue, or go missing, in the gallop toward an action-film climax that then, perversely, doesn’t materialize. The movie’s intelligence is artificial, its affect solemn.
  22. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Apr 16, 2014
    50
    Despite its looks, talent and pedigree, Transcendence never becomes the movie it could have been.
  23. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Apr 16, 2014
    50
    Pfister, who, like his mentor Nolan, adamantly continues to shoot on film (not digital), shows a sure hand at staging scenes, creating visuals and setting a tone -- if only all the diverse elements here fit comfortably under the same tent.
  24. Reviewed by: Kate Erbland
    Apr 17, 2014
    42
    Unquestionably the work of both a newbie director and a green screenwriter.
  25. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Apr 16, 2014
    42
    This humorless science-fiction cautionary tale feels like a relic from an earlier era, pulled out of a dusty old box of zip disks and 56k modems.
  26. Reviewed by: Drew McWeeny
    Apr 16, 2014
    42
    Wally Pfister, best known until now as the cinematographer on Christopher Nolan's big films, makes his directorial debut here, and as dumb as Paglen's script is, Pfister seems to have no feeling whatsoever for the staging of sequences or for any sort of dramatic narrative momentum.
  27. Reviewed by: Amon Warmann
    Apr 24, 2014
    40
    While the core concepts of Transcendence and the questions they pose are inherently interesting, the manner in which the themes are explored feels extremely superficial.
  28. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Apr 17, 2014
    40
    Transcendence is nowhere near as elegant, witty, or insightful as "Her." Pfister and the screenwriter, Jack Paglen, grapple ponderously, sometimes oafishly, with the ethical and philosophical issues at stake in the film’s premise.
  29. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Apr 17, 2014
    40
    Transcendence, written by Jack Paglen, is just more business as usual, one of those "control technology or it will control you" sermons that nonetheless enlists the usual heap of technically advanced special effects.
  30. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Apr 17, 2014
    40
    Transcendence wants to use this future panic to comment meaningfully on our current interconnectedness and inorganic lifestyle, but it’s screaming too much to have that conversation.
  31. Reviewed by: Tom Shone
    Apr 17, 2014
    40
    Transcendence suffers from terrible timing, arriving a few months after Spike Jonze charmed audiences with his semi-futuristic love story "Her," which flipped a century’s worth of technophobia on its back.
  32. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Apr 16, 2014
    40
    A bright idea, disappointingly dulled in the execution.
  33. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Apr 16, 2014
    40
    While Transcendence has tons of money to spend on unpersuasive digital effects and dronelike music, it shows little interest in exploring the potentially tricky benefits of a computer-enhanced intellect; it’s not even in the enjoyable realm of starkly ridiculous Cold War thrillers like "Colossus: The Forbin" Project.
  34. Reviewed by: Alonso Duralde
    Apr 16, 2014
    40
    You can feel this movie's attempts at Big Ideas about technology get weighed down by a dopey, nonsensical plot.
  35. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Apr 16, 2014
    40
    There are intriguing, half-formed ideas afoot in Transcendence, but the script and Pfister’s heavy, humorless direction tend to reduce everything to simplistic standoffs between good and evil.
  36. Reviewed by: Eric Henderson
    Apr 17, 2014
    38
    If you programmed an algorithm to figure out how The Lawnmower Man might be retold by Snake Plissken at the conclusion of Escape from L.A., you'd still wind up with a more recognizably human effort.
  37. 38
    This thoughtful but windy and winded sci-fi thriller shortchanges the science – understandably - and the thrills. The directing debut of “Dark Knight” cinematographer Wally Pfister is a mopey affair with indifferent performances, heartless romance and dull action. It transcends nothing.
  38. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Apr 17, 2014
    37
    The real trouble with Transcendence is that it just isn’t all that scary — at least not in the way that it wants to be.
  39. Reviewed by: Charlie Schmidlin
    Apr 16, 2014
    33
    Jack Paglen’s script casts artificial intelligence and its dangers as the central trouble for its ensemble cast, but Pfister chooses to explore it in essentially a two-hour “getting ready” montage.
  40. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Apr 24, 2014
    25
    All I can cull is: don't mess with Mother Nature and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Fortune-cookie stuff. Erase All.
  41. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Apr 17, 2014
    25
    Transcendence is "Her" for dummies.
  42. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Apr 16, 2014
    25
    Lethargic direction, bland visuals, credulity-straining plotting and tin-eared dialogue turn even pros like Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany and Morgan Freeman into sleepwalking bores.
  43. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Apr 16, 2014
    25
    A pointless nightmare of pretentious science fiction twaddle with no plot, no coherence and no heart.
  44. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Apr 24, 2014
    20
    Transcendence is the worst, most portentous, and certainly the silliest big-budget science fiction film since the 2008 Keanu Reeves remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.
  45. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Apr 17, 2014
    20
    Ambitious to a fault, this cautionary fantasy about artificial intelligence has so much on its muddled mind, and so little sense of dramatic grounding, that it grows ever more preposterous before lurching to a climax that's utterly unfathomable.
User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 276 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 51 out of 88
  2. Negative: 20 out of 88
  1. Apr 19, 2014
    10
    I don't understand why everybody is so negative when it comes to Johnny Depp I went into this film with high hopes and it did not disappointI don't understand why everybody is so negative when it comes to Johnny Depp I went into this film with high hopes and it did not disappoint it had what I was looking for a great story with some action and drama as well this film was very interesting to look at with very good visuals and some top notch actors like Morgan Freeman & Cillan Murphy & Paul Bettany comparing such a film like this to others is just plain wrong I found this movie very good 10 out of 10 and one of the most underrated films I've seen this year. Full Review »
  2. Apr 17, 2014
    3
    Just watch The Lawnmower Man again. It wasn't very good, but it's better than this garbage. Awesome cast, horrible movie. Even the star powerJust watch The Lawnmower Man again. It wasn't very good, but it's better than this garbage. Awesome cast, horrible movie. Even the star power of this one can't save it. Full Review »
  3. Apr 22, 2014
    9
    My girlfriend and I were excited to see this movie for different reasons. I'm currently majoring in Computer Science and I've done a lot ofMy girlfriend and I were excited to see this movie for different reasons. I'm currently majoring in Computer Science and I've done a lot of research in the field of artificial intelligence, so I love everything relating to the singularity. I also hate it when a movie promises to deliver something that it ends up failing to deliver. Transcendence was a spectacular (although most certainly dramatized) prediction of what will happen when the human mind and computer processing coalesce.

    THE GOOD:
    -Astounding special effects
    -Great cinematography (directed by Wally Pfister)
    -Pretty good acting from the whole cast
    -Morgan Freeman
    -Realism (not to say there weren't a few "come on" moments)

    THE BAD:
    -Mostly minor plot holes
    -Somewhat misused technical vocabulary (to the untrained ear it probably sounded fine)
    -Copper fences don't insulate all electrical signals, which is a pretty major point
    -The ending could have been better (by which I mean more fortunate)

    ELABORATION (¡SPOILERS!):
    -Jargon: "It's based on my code, so I can hack it."
    Full Review »