Transcendence

  • Review Date: April 18, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Dark, pretentious sci-fi thriller tackles big questions.
  • Review Date: April 18, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

Age(i)

2
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9
10
11
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive 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.

Positive 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.

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

A few kisses between a husband and wife.

Language

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

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.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A few scenes show adults drinking in bars or having wine with meals.
 

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.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), the world's preeminent expert on artificial intelligence, is attacked by a band of anti-technology extremists, leaving him close to death. His research partner/wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), realizes that she and their brilliant scientist friend (Paul Bettany) can save Will -- or at least his mind -- by transferring his consciousness into a powerful experimental computer. The scientist quickly becomes intertwined with the Internet, giving him access to every electronic system on Earth, and is soon developing stunning breakthroughs that promise to change the planet for the better. But Will has other goals as well, and his growing power makes him a threat to anyone in his way.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

TRANSCENDENCE is ambitious, with an interesting premise, making for an engrossing cinematic experience. But, just like the supercomputer at the center of its plot, it feels at a slight remove. Yes, the cinematography is impressive and the actors are talented, but it doesn't fail to remind you at every turn that it's epic -- to the point of pomposity.

Still, the film asks some very compelling questions: At what point does human interest in artificial intelligence cross the line? How far do we want science to go? Are there any downsides to our yearning to create a "sentient machine"? The movie addresses all of these somewhat, but only on the surface. It's got too much on its plate -- special effects, dystopian plot, Depp -- to pay close attention to other themes it raises: love, death, immortality. Perhaps if it had allowed some of its more intimate moments to linger, Transcendence would actually be transcendent. 

Families can talk about...

  • 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 18, 2014
DVD release date:July 22, 2014
Cast:Johnny Depp, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman
Director:Wally Pfister
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality

This review of Transcendence was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old February 17, 2015
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Transcedence

Transcedence wastes a smart, potential idea on a dull, draggy and overlengthed film with almost nothing to offer in it's layered bordom. Skip it and you'll be glad. Recommended for kids 12 and up for: Violence/Action and Language.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Adult Written byzeekattacklee January 11, 2015
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

It satisfied me..

I personally loved this film.. Although the film does contain many moments of violence, I don’t think There is anything a thirteen year old couldn’t handle.. Otherwise please use caution when letting younger adults watch this..
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 10 years old December 27, 2014
AGE
10
QUALITY
 
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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