According To Early TRANSCENDENCE Reviews Johnny Is Out Of His

According To Early TRANSCENDENCE Reviews Johnny Is Out Of His

Cinematographer Wally Pfister is best known for lending his eye to Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight and Inception, but now it's his turn in the director's chair. Transcendence marks his directorial debut and the reviews are underwhelming. Check them out!

THE PLAYLIST: "A Gloomy Thriller Trying To Ground Its At-Times-Daffy Premise"
Given that Depp plays a computer for most of the film, I suppose he’s somewhat off the hook for such a static performance. Meanwhile, Hall does the best she can with her role, which jarringly shifts her from sober optimist to ruthless devotee in a single scene, leaving the other characters—and the audience—to make sense of it. Mara, Freeman, and Murphy are wasted, stuck in holding patterns of exposition; only Paul Bettany, as a scientist wary of his colleagues’ path, treads a winning, if somewhat telegraphed journey, bringing a warm and empathetic performance to this largely humorless affair. Over six collaborative efforts, Pfister and Nolan fashioned a much-debated approach of emotional logic over narrative coherence. In this film, it seems Pfister has swapped the routine, stringing a clear, episodic plot together with a perplexing mish-mash of motivations and actions. - Charlie Schmidlin

THE WRAP: "A Dopey, Nonsensical Plot"
Up to this point, “Transcendence” is a little “Her” and a little HAL 9000 — which is fine — but once we get clued into what cyber-Will's ultimate plans are, the film gets a lot dumber, throwing in contrivances that keep the audience from wrestling with complex questions and raising plot points that make less and less sense the more you think about them. The movie begins with a flash-forward that takes away much of the suspense, and that's the kind of move you can only pull off if you've got another, better card to play. But by the time “Transcendence” wraps up, the movie has clearly chickened out of grappling with any of its deeper issues and instead provides a cowardly quick fix. - Alonso Duralde

VARIETY: "Overplotted, Dramatically Undernourished"
“Transcendence” is a most curious name for a movie that never shakes free from those hoary old cliches about the evils of technology and the danger by which man plays at becoming a god. The man in question here is Johnny Depp, whose listless lead performance as a brilliant scientist in the field of artificial intelligence does little to aid this overplotted, dramatically undernourished debut feature from longtime Christopher Nolan d.p. Wally Pfister. Arriving at a crowded spring box office, the pic will test Depp’s drawing power outside of the Disney franchise factory, before weak word of mouth and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” send it packing. - Scott Foundas

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: "Big Ideas & A Big Budget Work At Cross-Purposes Sometimes."
Hall is the one actor here who's challenged and pushed to any emotional extremes, and her intelligent, alert and unpredictable bearing is very welcome. Wearing tortoiseshell horn-rims and speaking softly in his corporal moments, Depp has the right studious, distracted air as the smartest man in the world, and it's good to see Bettany, for once, as a real guy instead of the generic baddie he's mostly played of late. Befitting a production executive produced by Nolan and Emma Thomas, Transcendence is immaculately outfitted in every respect. 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. - Todd McCarthy

HITFIX: "Johnny Depp Looks Powerfully Bored"
The film is handsomely made for the most part, but considering how big the story they're trying to tell is, there's something sort of low-rent about the way they actually imagined it. For all of the world significance that these events supposedly carry, everything seems to happen between a few characters in one of the blandest settings imaginable. I feel bad for the cast. Rebecca Hall tries to give some sense of inner life to a character that exists mainly to react to expository dialogue dumps, but it's a battle she can't win. Bettany doesn't fare much better, and poor Kate Mara is stranded as the leader of the terrorist group. She has to glower a lot and snarl a few speeches, but it's a terrible role, and she's unable to make it work. - Drew McWeeny

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 become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should. Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.

TRANSCENDENCE - directed by Wally Pfister, from a screenplay written by Jack Paglen. Christopher Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas are Executive Producers. The cast includes: Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Clifton Collins, Jr., and Morgan Freeman. In theaters and IMAX on April 18.
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Filed Under "Sci-Fi" 4/16/2014
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