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Transcendence (2014)



Average Rating: 4.6/10
Reviews Counted: 132
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 106

In his directorial debut, ace cinematographer Wally Pfister remains a distinctive visual stylist, but Transcendence's thought-provoking themes exceed the movie's narrative grasp.


Average Rating: 4.6/10
Critic Reviews: 36
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 30

In his directorial debut, ace cinematographer Wally Pfister remains a distinctive visual stylist, but Transcendence's thought-provoking themes exceed the movie's narrative grasp.



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Movie Info

Sci-Fi Thriller. 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


Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Jack Paglen

Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site External Icon



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All Critics (132) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (106)

One of those "control technology or it will control you" sermons that nonetheless enlists the usual heap of technically advanced special effects.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The script by first-time screenwriter Jack Paglen is so full of half-explained cyber-nonsense and wheezy, kneejerk man-vs.-technology clichés, it borders on the ludicrous.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Moderately entertaining, periodically draggy.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The poster for the film begs for a counter-punch: printed over a gloomy close-up of Depp there is the warning, "Yesterday Dr. Will Caster Was Only Human." To which we might add, "And the Day Before Johnny Depp was an Actor."

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The directorial debut for ace cinematographer Wally Pfister is always watchable, but the narrative flaws and logical leaps sabotage sustained enjoyment. "Transcendence" looks and sounds like a Christopher Nolan film that got attacked by malware.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The question of whether we're too tied to technology and when or if it will prove our downfall is undoubtedly important and probably somewhat pressing. It certainly deserves a better movie than "Transcendence."

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fascinating as it is, Jack goes too far and builds a scenario that plays like a cross between mystical and magical, diluting the film's provenance

April 19, 2014 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

has all the audacity of Christopher Nolan's Inception, without the credibility ... ends up as a jumble of style over substance, leaving us feeling hoodwinked,"

April 19, 2014 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

While there are hints of interesting ideas lurking along the narrative's periphery, the implausible leaps in logic, inept plotting and sloppy sense of time and scope defeat any opportunity for impact.

April 19, 2014 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Although slow-moving and confusing at times, 'Transcendence' impressed me as a haunting, thought-provoking film.

April 19, 2014 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

It's a woefully imperfect movie, but it does look ahead to some brilliant concepts.

April 19, 2014 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Muddled, simplistic, highly derivative thriller that's filled with techno-babble and turns out to be terminally boring.

April 19, 2014 Full Review Source: SSG Syndicate
SSG Syndicate mounting his feature directorial debut, Transcendence, Pfister has chosen to tackle familiarity head on, carving out a new arena for himself while rigging the grounds with pitfalls at every step.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: The Playlist
The Playlist

... a muddled science-fiction drama that winds up feeling just artificial instead of intelligent.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source:

Transcendence continually reaches for big ideas. It has a go-for-broke ambition that may mark it as ahead of its time.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Aisle Seat
Aisle Seat

Transcendence has some astounding cinematography, but it lacks a heartfelt performance from anyone in the cast. It's like a chunky puree of The Lawnmower Man, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the ending to The World's End.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source:

Johnny Depp proves he is no Her as his artificial-intelligence film fails to provoke thought or feeling.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine intelligent, complex movie about artificial intelligence that delves deep into some of the issues the overrated Her only touched on.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: New England Movies Weekly
New England Movies Weekly

A downright boring motion picture that turns a pretty fun concept into nothing more than a progression of disjointed, academic plot points.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: CraveOnline

The film sets up a conflict but can't decide whose side it's own, which makes for a curiously subversive bit of entertainment but also leaves the story feeling quite muddled, especially in its final moments.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Patheos

Transcendence is an engaging enough "What if?" that happily reminded me of days spent curled up with a good Michael Crichton book.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair

Dark, pretentious sci-fi thriller tackles big questions.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Transcendence is full of enough intriguing ideas about the future and humanity's relationship with technology to overlook some of the film's tonal and narrative hiccups.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Nerdist

In a way, the relatively balanced approach that Transcendence takes to its subject matter is the most interesting thing about it.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

More than 40 years after 'Colossus: The Forbin Project,' they couldn't come up with something better than this?

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Tolucan Times
Tolucan Times

Audience Reviews for Transcendence

Evelyn: Where are you going?
Will: Everywhere.

For a techno-thriller about artificial intelligence, it actually seems to make sense that Transcendence does not have a whole lot of emotion to back up its big ideas, aside from Paul Bettany's cry face, which makes its appearance now and again. This is a film that could have worked as a cheesy B-movie with the words, "When computers fight back!" written on a billboard entrance to a drive-in movie theater. Instead, it feels like a glossy, big-budget studio film with a screenplay that feels like a cautionary tale that has been updated from an original draft written 20 years ago. Not helping is the high caliber cast providing mostly half-hearted performances and a lack of urgency in a dramatic narrative that sets its stakes much higher than they ever actually feel. Even when some of the neat ideas are given some visual lift, Transcendence is still mostly a dull affair.

read the whole review at
April 17, 2014

Super Reviewer

Transcendence is a good movie that you'll forget you even saw an hour or so after watching it. It's not bad, just forgettable. A warning though: if you're one of those irritating people who like to peel movies apart and want a film to be realistic, you're going to hate it. Transcendence comes with the goal to entertain and get you to think about possibilities more-so than being accurate. There are some great ideas here. There were a bunch of dragging parts. Even the actors couldn't help it when it bogged. Depp isn't as huge a character in the movie as Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany. These two do a good job in keeping Transcendence flowing, but there's only so much you can do with a slow script. The ending doesn't see the movie pick up, but it's a decent and logical ending for the way the rest of the movie went. There isn't any reason to see Transcendence in theaters. Or even to pay to rent it. It'll be just as good on a movie channel or cable once it makes it there.
April 19, 2014

Super Reviewer

    1. Dr. Will Caster: I don't understand this is the future.
    – Submitted by joseph j (10 days ago)
    1. Dr. Will Caster: I need more power get me online.
    – Submitted by joseph j (10 days ago)
    1. Dr. Will Caster: For one hundred and thirty thousand years, our capacity to reason has remained unchanged. The combined intellect of the neuroscientists, mathematicians and engineers pales in comparison to the most basic A.I. Once online, a sentient machine will quickly overcome the limits of biology; in a short time, its analytic power will become greater than the collective intelligence of every person born in the history of the world. Some scientists refer to this as the Singularity. I call it Transcendence.
    – Submitted by joseph j (10 days ago)
View all quotes (3)

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