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Mixed or average reviews - based on 45 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 246 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him. However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can, but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him. Expand
  • Director: Wally Pfister
  • Genre(s): Action, Sci-Fi, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Runtime: 119 min
  • More Details and Credits »
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: 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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]
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See all 45 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 48 out of 81
  2. Negative: 18 out of 81
  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 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. Expand
  2. Jul 21, 2014
    10
    Another great Sci-Fi film to add to my favourites; it has a brilliant ensemble cast, this writer, Jack Paglen obviously knows technology, and futurology, and he almost made believe nanotech can be possible irl. the story was fairly simple and not too complex. I love the very last scene, it made me cry happy tears. Expand
  3. Sep 5, 2014
    9
    Best science fiction movie I have seen for a long time. Good acting and good concept puts it a cut above the rest. I think one or two things might have been done differently-but that is only a small thing I suppose. I do wonder if it is possible to make a self aware computer system but I think chances are you would only get a copy of a persons mind-but you never really know since the brain is basically just a computer anyway-but it is driven by pain avoidance whereas computers don't feel pain-its funny-if you made a computer work more like a person it would only be a computer that makes more mistakes and therefor be less effective as a computer. Nice work on this film-nice to see Johnny Depp doing something interesting-thought he was lost to the world. Best to see it with someone as opposed to going alone. Expand
  4. Aug 29, 2014
    6
    Great concept, great cast, great cinematography..absolutely flat delivery. Transcendence has a great thing going out for it, but first time director Wally Pfister maybe an Oscar caliber Cinematographer, but he is no Christopher Nolan, his mentor. The film fell flat in many occasions, despite its intriguing premise and plot points. The pacing is off...when I checked the time, it's only two hours long, but felt like three. It's clearly a missed opportunity. If only Nolan handled this material directly....than this film would came out differently. Expand
  5. Apr 18, 2014
    5
    Transcendence is nice with its stunning visuals and complex stories and all, but I can see through it. The truth is that it's a quirky, peculiar movie that acts like its plot is complex, but never fully explains it. Also, sometimes the movie hard for us to understand. "We fear what we don't understand" says Depp. Well, I guess he's trying to make us all fear Transcendence. Expand
  6. Jul 1, 2014
    4
    This film had a good story and some great actors, but it didn't reach out to all the potential. The main problems here are, to me, the dumb dialogue (which is filled with probably misused technical terms to make it sound smart) and the focusing, in the plot, on uninteresting folds of the matter, such as the conflict between Depp and Rebecca Hall, and the righteousness of the terrorist organisation. I think it would have been a more interesting film if it had focused more on the skills of the machine, maybe expanding its healing power to the outer world, rather than have it closed in an underground laboratory.

    The cinematography and the special effects are good, and, for once, they're not the main feature of a sci-fi. There are some glorious visual moments, like the solar panel field. The acting is fine, even if by now we are used to a more eclectic Johnny Depp. As I said, the dialogue and the plot are the main failures here. Too bad they count so much.
    Expand
  7. Jun 15, 2014
    0
    A sort of Transcendence did occur
    the kind that winds up me cursing
    at how lamb Johnny Depp films have been since he had kids.
    Can't wait
    for his plastic enlightenment period to end so the
    guy can get his hands dirty, this script was a joke.
    Expand

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