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‘Transcendence’ Review Roundup: Critics Slam Johnny Depp

Sat, April 19, 2014 4:16pm EDT by 5 Comments
Transcendence Johnny Depp
Courtesy of Alcon Entertainment

Johnny Depp’s sci-fi film ‘Transcendence’ is being slammed by critics for its lackluster opening in theaters on April 18. Critics say the film is stellar on special effects, but falls short on storyline.

Johnny Depp once again plunged into the world of sci-fi with his latest film Transcendence. However, the film is not getting the rave reviews that Johnny had probably hoped for. Keep reading to see what the critics have to say — but we warned you, it’s not looking too good.

‘Transcendence’ Slammed By Critics


Director Wally Pfister has served as Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer on numerous features, and he clearly wants to mimic Nolan’s successful fusing of pop and philosophy, of breakneck action and high-minded portent. But he lacks Nolan’s shorthand, the ability to convey complicated narrative concepts in speedy fashion, which is the secret building-block of the director’s dense narratives. As a result, Transcendence never quite succeeds at telling a story of scientific overreach.


On a narrative front, Transcendence is complete mess – and worse yet, it’s a boring mess. Things certainly start off with promise, but once the second act kicks in, and Will is in the computer, the movie quickly loses narrative steam in terms of focus, purpose, and thematic/character development.


Unfortunately for Johnny Depp, he is not Her. That is to say, his largely vocal performance as Dr. Will Caster, an artificial intelligence pioneer who uploads his mind into a computer, isn’t nearly as evocative and rich as Scarlett Johansson’s in last year’s similarly themed Spike Jonze film. Where Johansson was effervescent and engrossing as the operating system Samantha, Depp’s Caster seems bored and detached…

Entertainment Weekly

Transcendence wants to be a thinking person’s film about what the Internet hath wrought, à la The Matrix, questioning our dependence on ones and zeroes instead of human reason. And the film imagines a cyber 9/11 apocalypse that’s more numbing than chilling. 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.

ABC News

“Transcendence” feels less like a film title and more like a mission statement, with the filmmakers hoping the movie would transcend its faults and become a fully realized story with fleshed-out characters (Kate Mara from House of Cards is particularly underutilized as the terrorist leader) and intellectually stimulating conversations. In fairness, there are a few tense moments, but there are also plenty of other moments where you wish the projectionist would stop the movie and throw on Spike Jonze’s Her, a much more subtle and entertaining meditation on a somewhat similar theme.

What do you think, HollywoodLifers? Will you see Transcendence anyway? Let us know!

— Bryant Perkins

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