Sound Off: Wally Pfister's Sci-Fi 'Transcendence' - What Did You Think?

April 18, 2014


Now that you've seen it, what did you think? Yesterday Dr. Will Caster was only human. Today he is… everywhere. Now playing in theaters is Transcendence, the feature directing debut of cinematography Wally Pfister, a sci-fi thriller about artificial intelligence in this modern day and age. Johnny Depp stars along with Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman and Clifton Collins Jr. So how is it? Does it live up to expectations? What do you make of the final half and the way it ends? If you've seen it, leave a comment below with your own thoughts about Wally Pfister's Transcendence.

Spoiler Warning: We strongly urge everyone to actually see the film before reading ahead, as there may be spoilers below. We also encourage all commenters to keep major spoilers from the film to a minimum, if possible. However, this is an open discussion from this point on! Beware of spoilers, don't ruin this movie!

To fuel the fire, I actually thought Transcendence was pretty good, but not great. It has some smart ideas in it that they take to the most extreme lengths. The script is solid, but ultimately it's forgettable. By the end, which is fun, my thought was "that's it? Okay." It didn't leave a big impact and didn't make me think deeply about artificial intelligence beyond the thought that "they weren't there" with the nanobots and taking over (spoiler!). But, then again, if they didn't go there, it wouldn't have been realistic enough, and we would all be complaining about "why didn't they take this idea further?" I enjoyed Rebecca Hall the most, the rest of the cast is fine, but there isn't much about this movie that stands out. But it's not as bad as critics say either.


What did you think of Wally Pfister's Transcendence? Smart thriller or a big disappointment?
We will remove any comments that indicate you have not seen the movie, as this area is meant to discuss the film only once you have seen it and can talk about your thoughts. Please keep the comments civilized!

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simple... it's fucking terrible.

Kento on Apr 18, 2014


I am going to have to strongly disagree with the critics, Transcendence was brilliant. A film clearly ahead of it's time in it's ideals and points of views which is why it has yet to be understood by everyone. I loved many of the elements it displayed, it was more bold than any science fiction film I have ever seen. Wally Pfisfer's excellent camerawork just made this film even more beautiful to watch. The script was definitely solid. Definitely on my best films of 2014 list now next to The Legend of Hercules, Kellan Lutz brilliant portrayal of Hercules.

Cocaino Weaver on Apr 18, 2014


That was sarcasm at its best. Good show old chap.

Quanah on Apr 18, 2014


That's what I think too, in particular the characteristics of Will's reluctance to get on the 'talk' but to get funding for scientific research. Getting funding is the most challenging work for scientists in academic research and good scientists do research without thinking about commercialization. The scripts and the logic of the scenes based on the personalities of a scientist for Will was very solid. Johnny Depp was very well acted and the movie has so much depth to it The logic and Science of the movie might be very difficult for illogical audiences to understand as they require everything laid out for them.

Mimi Lo on Aug 5, 2014


Depp done it again, best since Lone ranger

Quynh Truong on Apr 18, 2014


Man, what was his last good movie? Sweeney Todd? That's seven years ago now. And the last good, non-goofy role he had was Finding Neverland, I think, which has to be at least 10 years old.

Rick on Apr 18, 2014


i think you forgot public enemies - he played john Dillinger 2009

Margaret Hinks on Apr 19, 2014


That movie got lukewarm reception, though, and wasn't anything special at the box office. I'm not Depp hating, I think he's a great actor and I'm hoping he gets his career back on track.

Rick on Apr 19, 2014


Box Office does not a good movie make.

Xerxexx on Apr 20, 2014


I know, but the movie was still pretty meh.

Rick on Apr 20, 2014


Rather enjoyed it. Johnny Depp only wowed me with Finding Neverland...fantastic movie...that and Edward Scissorhands.

Xerxexx on Apr 21, 2014


I like Depp, but he might be the most over hyped actor in Hollywood. Despite the Pirate franchise, you're right. He really hasn't had a truly great film since Finding Neverland. He had box office success with Alice in Wonderland, but not many really consider that to be a good movie. The Tourist, Rum Diaries, Public Enemies, and Sweeny Todd were box office failures who have niche fans, but are by no means good movies. Even if you look at his overall career he's a pretty hit and miss actor.....yet he's got such an alluring presence on screen it's hard to pass up or at least be intrigued by his movies.

UrAllThumb on Apr 21, 2014


His Disney movies are all bad. The movies you list as box office failures are all good. I hate that Depp gets stuck in those dumb as Disney money movies. He probably has fun, but they are not good movies. They are mindless, basic, simplistic, kid movies.

Scott Seeger on Apr 29, 2014


Not that bad, but not a showstopper that deserves a sequel. Plot is pretty meh too.

Guest on Apr 19, 2014


Sequels are the problem. Most truly great movies shouldn't have sequels. Sequels are just money making bate these days and are the opposite of good cinema.

Scott Seeger on Apr 29, 2014


I liked it. Nothing spectacular but I've seen far worse directorial debuts.

Chiroptera Exsanguination on Apr 19, 2014


I really didn't enjoy it and neither did my son, the writing was boring and they used the lazy "hive" method to destroy the bad guys army at the end. It would have been nice to see the AI not be evil for once as that was quite predictable and "his" motives didn't even make any sense. I wanted to like it but it just felt like Wally got his batman friends to be in his movie and they overacted a cheesy script causing inevitable laughter between takes. I wanted to like this, but I'd agree that it was definitely forgettable.

MattPeloquin on Apr 20, 2014


The AI wasn't evil in the end. That was the point of the movie. They were afraid of it, when Depp's character really was using the technology to do good all the long, and they killed "it" and all the power in the world out of fear.

UrAllThumb on Apr 21, 2014


The AI was most definitely "evil", it created zombie nano soldiers out of people to do its bidding and controlled the weather to spread like a virus.

MattPeloquin on Apr 22, 2014


You really don't understand. It wasn't evil. Out of love for his wife he was trying to make the world a better place. People didn't understand.

Scott Seeger on Apr 29, 2014


The "soldiers" are not zombies. They have free will and are able to act on their own, but the AI can take over when there is a need. It is more like "Matrix" types of takeover which the person being taken over might or might not be aware of it happening. Still though, the AI does cure their illness and technically make them invulnerable; It is arguable whether such an "exchange" is morally acceptable. And many viewers have got the weather bit completely wrong. There is no sign of AI actually controlling the weather, it merely disperses the nanobots into the atmosphere which gets spread all over the place. And the functions of the nanobots are to clean up pollution, not to control normal people. His wife and his friend both realizes they have misjudged the intentions at the end. The movie intentionally kept the intention of the AI vague but it backfires as apparently many viewers simply misunderstood the plot at the end.

eworld on Jul 11, 2014


Get a grip, folks. This movie was nowhere near as terrible as the avalanche of load your gun, pre-canned bad reviews are, nor is it close to a brilliant masterpiece as some here have countered. What we got was a pretty solid and competently acted tech-fi movie with a big star name. Lot's of borrowing here from previous and better films like Andromeda Strain, Her, 2001: A Space Odessy and Brainstorm. And I think those nods are part of what this film gets right and made it entertaining for the me and several that I saw it with. I also appreciate this film had some cool things to say about the future of technology and our deepening dependence on it.

az_mclovin on Apr 20, 2014


I didn't think it transcended anything I've seen lately. Kinda boring, actually.

Chris Hutcheson on Apr 21, 2014


I'm kind of confused by all the bad reviews of this film. It's nothing spectacular, but I was entertained and drawn into the story line quite a bit. Some of it is rehashed sci-fi, but very little in hollywood or sci-fi for that matter isn't rehashed. Personally I thought it was a creative story, and it exceeded my expectations. I think a lot of people expected a Matrix/Inception style film, and this is just a simple sci-fi drama. For what it is, I thought it was great. Sure I think some more action may have helped the film, but overall I was impressed with the story, especially the ending, which I thought had good subtle foreshadowing that I really had to think about after the film was over. It's not a complicated film by any means, but it seems like a lot of people missed what the ending was really all about. Overall I'd give it an 8 out of 10.

UrAllThumb on Apr 21, 2014


The trailer had me excited about this one, but it turned out the epitome of average. It's biggest flaws: - a passive protagonist in Evelyn. The character never actively involved herself in the story. She merely reacted to everything around her. This is not someone who the audience can root for. - Most of the actors (esp. Freeman, Depp, and Murphy) looked bored. - Starting a "thriller" with a voiceover, a 5 minute flashforward (to cancel all tension as to how it'll all turn out) and then follow that with a presentation! Starting a thriller with a presentation! Jebus! Some great ideas, but a cinematographer is a technician, not a director or an actor and you see the difference in this. Still, looked beautiful and hopefully he learns lessons to be taken onto his next project.

Gary Wilkie on Apr 22, 2014


I watched the movie today and it was good BUT... I was screaming in my head the entire time! There's so many bits in the movie that can picked apart too easily... in fact! I felt like there's a lot in this movie that would 'bait' you into a delirium of imagined arguments with yourself during the movie. It felt like I was watching an anti-social media activist's fever dream that they were having at 11AM in the morning!

lewinston on Apr 22, 2014


Made me think of God and religion and love and relationships and consciousness and independence. It has beautiful cinematography and actually makes you think about real things in life. I like that different people could have different perception of this movie. It's not just some dumb action movie that you can just drool and watch, so it's not for most movie goers these days. It was so much deeper and better than something like Captain America TWS (even though I enjoyed that too, just not as much). To me the biggest problem with this film is that the solar panels didn't face the sun.

Scott Seeger on Apr 29, 2014


I think nothing made me think so much about how we can restore nature than this film, besides all the bad critics - really, I think a lot of people don't seem to get the bigger message. Being bad or good, it will definitely raise awareness in some kind of nature, be in environment or social aspects, everybody here has given it at least some thought, which is always a plus - and that coming out from Hollywood!

Anna on Sep 29, 2014

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