‘Transcendence’ is a stern Springtime test for Johnny Depp; the 50-year-old actor mooted an end to his film career following the very public failure that was ‘The Lone Ranger’, and a crowded box office, including the hotly anticipated ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ will see his star power put to the sword like never before, especially without the Disney machine behind him. 

Johnny Depp in Transcendence Cheer up Johnny

In that context, the reviews for his new sci-fi thriller, ‘Transcendence’ – from director Wally Pfister (Christopher Nolan’s long-time d.p.) – make for painful reading. The entire extent of the damage can’t be confirmed yet, but two things are for sure: this won’t ease the ‘Lone Ranger’ pain, and Johnny Depp’s reputation still hangs in the balance. 

“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,” writes Variety’s Scott Foundas in a damning review. 

“Johnny Depp's name will have to be counted upon to lure mainstream crowds on opening weekend, but this big Warner Bros. release will prove too demanding, perplexing and egg-headed for widespread popularity,” says Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter. The rest of his review, though, notes the disparity between Pfister’s beautiful work behind the camera and the story vehicle it’s supposed to be driving. 

TranscendenceRebecca Hall's performance in 'Transcendence' has been praised

Alonso Duralde of The Wrap says ‘Transcendence’ “is a sleek, smart techno-thriller loaded with interesting ideas — until it stops being any of those things.” There is praise in Duralde’s review, and it falls at the feet of Rebecca Hall’s performance as computer genius Evelyn. “She remains committed to the character even when the plot's logic goes 404 – Not Found,” he writes. 

“The film is handsomely made for the most part,” writes Drew McWeeny for HitfFix, echoing the widespread opinion that Pfister really does know his way around a camera, “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.”

So there you have it; no Rotten Tomatoes score yet, but one’s coming and – by the looks of things – it’ll settle up somewhere under, but near to, the 50% mark. Unfortunately, despite a premise ripe for exploration, ‘Transcendence’ is going to end up on the pile of sci-fi movies that couldn’t execute its grand ideas. 

Watch the trailer for 'Transcendence' here