As an Artificial Intelligence researcher myself, I kind of had to watch this film. I went into this film expecting to be horribly disappointed due to the largely negative reviews already published elsewhere, but I left the cinema pleasantly surprised and motivated to continue my research (provided I don't get gunned down by some anti-technology group)!
Transcendence is not only a surprisingly deep film; it is to me a poignant essay on the flawed overvaluing society places on certain human traits such as emotions, individualism and free will. The love story between AI researchers Will and Evelyn Caster (played by Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall) was quite special, as the main conflict arose from Evelyn's human fear of the implications of Will's Transcendence, making even the audience question Will's love for her once he embodied his higher intellect. It is a very daring attempt to argue that humanity is truly better once we are above the human condition.
While the visuals elements does look like a carbon copy of the 2008 remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, I felt the writer and director had either a deep understanding or deep appreciation of what the technological singularity really is, as opposed to what the media often portrays it to be.
This film is also very subtle, which is unfortunate because I think most people may overlook its open-endedness and the parallels with Christian themes drawn throughout the narrative. I also believe the film didn't celebrate a victory for either side of the "is technology the undoing of humanity" debate, but rather it provided space for contemplation. But I would say that some elements and character designs were quite flawed, especially Morgan Freeman's character, and because of the film's intrinsic subtlety, I can see why a lot of Premiere-Day critics will find this film unsatisfactory.
For me however, Transcendence was a true science fiction film. It was quantum art; weak on details and storytelling, but a mature and intelligent parable that transcends its Hollywood peers. I would highly recommend this movie to other people who like to think, but if you just want a big dumb action fun this might not be your thing.
8.0 / 10.0