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Transcendence Review Critics


Dave White Profile

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Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper

    Transcendence is a bold, beautiful, sometimes confounding flight of futuristic speculation firmly rooted in the potential of today’s technology.

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  • 20

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    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.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    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.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    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.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    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.

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  • See all Transcendence reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Dark, pretentious sci-fi thriller tackles big questions.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Transcendence stars Johnny Depp as Dr. Will Caster, a brilliant researcher in the field of artificial intelligence who's shot by a band of anti-technology extremists and finds another life within an experimental supercomputer. As the scientist's mind expands into new frontiers, he starts to devise new ways to cure diseases and heal the environment ... but he also pursues his own less-altruistic agenda. This is pretty intense, brooding end-of-the-world material, which is too much for younger viewers. Expect explosions, gunfire, and other action sequences, as well as infrequent swearing (including "s--t"), a little kissing, and a few bar scenes with adults drinking.

  • Families can talk about Transcendence's messages about technology. Is this a cautionary tale? Do you think anything like this would ever be possible in real life?
  • Is that really Will in the computer? How is he like a human, and how is he not?
  • What do you think about the relationship between Evelyn and her virtual husband? How do her feelings change toward Will, and how does his digital consciousness react?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Absolute power corrupts, and we need to be careful about how we use technology. While a brilliant scientist/artificial consciousness thinks he's trying to improve the world, it soon becomes clear that he won't tolerate any interference.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: A woman is willing to do almost anything to save her beloved, dying husband, even if it means transferring his consciousness into a powerful computer network. And when she realizes that her actions have dire, unintended consequences, she's willing to make a huge sacrifice in an attempt to make things right.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Several scenes feature soldiers attacking a compound, using machine guns and explosive devices that turn a large field of solar panels into debris. A character is assaulted by two men and then kidnapped. Another man is badly beaten, and his battered and bloody body is shown in detailed close-ups.

  • sex false0

    Sex: A few kisses between a husband and wife.

  • language false2

    Language: Occasional use of the word "s--t."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: One character uses several Apple products, including an iPhone and an iPad. She also drives a Subaru. Some city signage is visible, including an ad for Citibank. A fictional copy of Wired magazine features Depp's character on the cover.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A few scenes show adults drinking in bars or having wine with meals.