“Transcendence” | Movie Review

Overall Grade: (C)

A tale of two films with an intriguing first half and a grossly overdone second.


Dr. Will Castor is a leading scientist in the field of artificial-intelligence. His breakthroughs have been extraordinary and when his subconscious is uploaded into an AI program, the results turn out to be much more dangerous then predicted.

My Take

This was a tough film to rate. The first half of the film was a well written science-fiction story with a solid cast of characters. Depp, Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany all provide strong performances. Although Depp’s (for me) felt like it dramatically dropped off as his character is inserted into the massive computer.

The theme was interesting and pulls your attention to the futuristic field of artificial-intelligence. What Depp’s character goes through early on make you feel for his position and draws thoughts of what you would do in his position. So as I watched I began to wonder why I heard such a large amount of criticism on this film.

Well, as it progressed and the subconscious of Dr. Castor was uploaded into the program, the film began to skew from the intelligently thought provoking path it created. Quickly the actions and motivations of Evelyn (Hall) began to seem too much on the side of implausible as she turns to a rather unlikable character. As it continued I grew more detached from the story-line as well as genuine interest in the two leads.

The premise of building a massive compound out in the middle of nowhere was interesting but the way it played out in the pace of the film seemed to keep it from landing with its full intensity. There was an enjoyable sub-plot to the film that included Paul Bettany who in my opinion delivered the best performance in the film. The script did manage to re-build some of its tension when the characters of Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy see the city for the first time. It was a great scene and raised interest but from there the film only seemed to stretch further from realistic artificial-intelligence, to the fantasy genre.

Much like the movie “Lucy” this film tried much to hard to provide such a wild ending that is loses the viewer. Sure the special-effects were good but in a third-act that goes so far into absurd, it doesn’t hit the mark. Sometimes an over-the-top ending to a film is what can make or break a project. This was a film that would have fared better with less CGI and more detail in the script to keep viewers connected.

Overall this was just a slightly-above average science fiction film with an inflated budget.