Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Transcendence is a Sci-Fi Snooze

Plus, Heaven is for Real is heartfelt but uneven; Bears is beautiful and entertaining, and A Haunted House 2 wasn't screened -- guess the Tomatometer!

by | April 17, 2014 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a techno-dystopia (Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall), a near-death experience (Heaven Is For Real, starring Greg Kinnear and Connor Corum), a bunch of furry carnivores (the nature documentary Bears), and some supernatural high jinks (A Haunted House 2, starring Marlon Wayans and Jaime Pressly). What do the critics have to say?



Sometimes a movie needs more than an intriguing premise, an all-star cast, and a distinctive visual look. Critics say that’s the case with Transcendence, a surprisingly dull and narratively muddled sci-fi drama that’s short on suspense and logic. Johnny Depp stars as Will Caster, a leader in the field of artificial intelligence research who uploads his consciousness to a computer with the intent of creating a sentient machine. In doing so, Caster runs afoul of a group of militant luddites, who fear that humans have become too dependent on technology. The pundits say Transcendence is sleekly crafted, but it largely squanders its cast on a story that never quite coheres. (Check out our video interview with the stars, as well as this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Depp’s best-reviewed movies.)

Heaven Is for Real


It’s an age-old puzzle for Hollywood: how to make films that appeal to devout Christians without alienating everyone else. Critics say that Heaven Is For Real ends up in the mushy middle, and the result is a well-acted, thoughtful tale that never quite follows through on the interesting questions it raises. Four-year-old Colton (Connor Corum) briefly flatlines during surgery; when he’s revived, he tells an incredible story about the deceased family members he met during his short visit to Heaven. Colton’s revelation awakens something in his father Todd (Greg Kinnear), a small-town pastor in the midst of a crisis of faith. The pundits say Heaven is for Real is well-made and often quite affecting, but its depiction of the afterlife leaves something to be desired.



With Earth, Oceans, African Cats, and Chimpanzee, the good folks at Disneynature have delivered an unbroken string of high-quality nature documentaries. Critics say the streak continues with Bears, which offers breathtaking images of these animals in their natural environs and tends to avoid shoehorning its subjects into a narrative. Narrated by John C. Reilly, the film follows a mama grizzly bear and her two cubs as they try to survive in the Alaskan wilderness. The pundits say that Bears‘ furry protagonists are engaging and lovable, and the footage captured here is crisp and intimate. (Take a look through our gallery of memorable bears in the movies.)

A Haunted House 2


Given the critical drubbing its predecessor received, it comes as little surprise that A Haunted House 2 wasn’t screened for reviewers prior to its release. Marlon Wayans stars as a man who moves with his new girlfriend and her kids to a new home that’s bedeviled by spectral spirits; hilarity ensues. Time to guess the Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Final Member, a documentary about an Icelandic museum that houses a vast array of male genitalia from humans and animals, is at 100 percent.

  • Gabrielle, a drama about a love affair between two developmentally disabled adults, is at 100 percent.

  • Manakamana, a documentary about a cable car in Nepal that carries tourists and locals to a temple in the mountains, is at 100 percent.

  • Soft In The Head, a dramedy about a troubled woman who ends up living at a halfway house for men, is at 80 percent.

  • Small Time, a drama about a used-car salesman who teaches his son the tricks of the trade, is at 71 percent.

  • Proxy, a horror film about a woman dealing with tragedy who finds herself embroiled in a conspiracy when she joins a support group, is at 69 percent.

  • 13 Sins, starring Mark Webber and Ron Perlman in a thriller about a financially-strapped salesman who must undertake a series of increasingly dangerous challenges dictated to him via cell phone, is at 60 percent.

  • Fading Gigolo, starring Woody Allen and John Turturro in a comedy about a man who becomes an escort to help a friend in financial trouble, is at 57 percent.

  • That Demon Within, an action/horror hybrid about a young cop who suffers from hallucinations after providing a life-saving blood transfusion to a ruthless criminal, is at 44 percent.

  • Make Your Move, a drama about a pair of young people from different worlds who bond whie dancing, is at 20 percent.

  • Tasting Menu, a comedy about a disparate group of people who assemble for the closing of a world-class chef’s restaurant, is at 13 percent.

  • Authors Anonymous, starring Kaley Cuoco and Chris Klein in a mockumentary about a group of aspiring novelists, is at zero percent.

  • A Promise, starring Rebecca Hall and Alan Rickman in a period drama about an ambitious young man who falls for his boss’ married daughter, is at zero percent.

Tag Cloud

Comics on TV TCA Awards versus obituary Apple facebook Sony Paramount Plus Musical 2017 heist movie dexter anthology Marvel 2021 doctor who australia ratings composers Marvel Studios summer TV preview X-Men what to watch The Walking Dead Disney Thanksgiving target concert crime name the review parents Comedy Central Martial Arts 73rd Emmy Awards screenings blockbuster streamig italian reviews quibi mcc trailers deadpool docudrama Film Festival Syfy aapi cats GoT Sundance TV 93rd Oscars boxoffice South by Southwest Film Festival First Look 2016 E! SDCC Academy Awards Captain marvel Watching Series cinemax politics Marvel Television Writers Guild of America Drama marvel comics cooking Esquire TV One Chilling Adventures of Sabrina halloween tv Dark Horse Comics Endgame critic resources DirecTV ABC trophy stop motion vampires laika disaster biography President action-comedy Certified Fresh Song of Ice and Fire indie LGBT MSNBC 21st Century Fox Neflix adenture spider-verse robots leaderboard a nightmare on elm street game of thrones Star Wars Celebration Focus Features scene in color Walt Disney Pictures live event Lionsgate Acorn TV GLAAD Calendar harry potter OneApp Travel Channel Stephen King TIFF Disney Plus serial killer technology christmas movies NBC animated scary critics TBS halloween Tags: Comedy MTV Mudbound Mindy Kaling comic book movie ViacomCBS Opinion Holiday See It Skip It Year in Review TruTV television Masterpiece superman Sundance Election Teen dogs YA strong female leads Disney Channel CBS 99% Arrowverse USA Network Funimation Rom-Com dark Pop Animation superhero ESPN gangster documentaries spinoff nature Tarantino zombie AMC Plus dragons mob king arthur cults sequels Reality Competition docuseries supernatural Pride Month Superheroe dc thriller 94th Oscars Summer toronto Amazon Prime Star Wars Prime Video CW Seed period drama 4/20 book adaptation Anna Paquin independent Elton John sag awards fast and furious pirates of the caribbean scary movies women Hallmark transformers new star wars movies Fox News Comic Book Trailer rotten AMC Emmy Nominations space science fiction romantic comedy 2018 police drama HBO Go WarnerMedia Food Network award winner aliens TNT MGM monster movies young adult Awards Trophy Talk green book Western hist ABC Family summer TV ID Crackle Best Actor 2019 reboot Film rt labs renewed TV shows saw Tumblr festivals free movies universal monsters popular The Arrangement Warner Bros. Rock Cartoon Network ITV PlayStation Wes Anderson San Diego Comic-Con french Holidays series true crime BET Awards TV movies Video Games Winter TV festival romance CMT BET suspense spider-man jurassic park werewolf Pacific Islander GIFs DC Universe YouTube Red historical drama Rocketman obi wan olympics feel good lord of the rings Sneak Peek basketball talk show TCM Photos Apple TV+ Adult Swim rt labs critics edition 71st Emmy Awards Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Turner Britbox Nominations Lifetime game show video on demand Red Carpet Columbia Pictures A&E Netflix Christmas movies Reality Infographic genre nbcuniversal psychological thriller comiccon TV TLC Bravo HBO Max Quiz Tokyo Olympics comedies Brie Larson Rocky Baby Yoda cancelled TV series IFC Vudu 1990s films spy thriller BBC Alien crime drama worst Country TCA news Mary Poppins Returns Emmys streaming movies DC streaming service Tomatazos Hear Us Out Starz golden globes 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Kids & Family Image Comics social media RT21 adaptation Hallmark Christmas movies video Paramount Shondaland Binge Guide Peacock Toys teaser The CW New York Comic Con comic books rotten movies we love Disney+ Disney Plus Classic Film Polls and Games japan Pirates based on movie HFPA tv talk Interview TV renewals MCU FX best japanese LGBTQ YouTube Premium Netflix hispanic heritage month Native emmy awards Turner Classic Movies Black Mirror Mary Tyler Moore Universal Pictures comic book movies mission: impossible stoner spanish language SundanceTV marvel cinematic universe dceu directors 90s Nickelodeon posters slasher prank chucky franchise The Purge canceled El Rey Valentine's Day Pixar wonder woman james bond die hard documentary cartoon finale Freeform Set visit cancelled sequel SXSW 2022 Geeked Week live action satire discovery OWN ghosts asian-american Box Office FX on Hulu Television Critics Association children's TV worst movies Horror canceled TV shows anime 72 Emmy Awards Amazon Prime Video Grammys Sundance Now HBO interviews Star Trek Marathons hidden camera football zero dark thirty FOX IFC Films BBC America south america scorecard latino VICE casting FXX sitcom classics DGA Best Picture criterion slashers SXSW Musicals rt archives Ovation Extras international Tubi USA unscripted twilight Fall TV Spectrum Originals black comedy Lifetime Christmas movies golden globe awards Trivia travel cars joker Comic-Con@Home 2021 dreamworks indiana jones Paramount Pictures DC Comics toy story Best Actress art house Pet Sematary Black History Month Showtime movie sopranos The Walt Disney Company archives Action boxing elevated horror target scene in color breaking bad BAFTA History Countdown razzies Legendary book Discovery Channel BBC One Broadway Amazon Studios scene in color film series theme song natural history king kong Best and Worst IMDb TV justice league summer preview Ellie Kemper zombies high school Spring TV biopic Mystery Apple TV Plus batman remakes hispanic Cosplay Sci-Fi streaming Shudder scene in color series child's play kong TV Land Fargo cops PBS nfl venice E3 CNN screen actors guild new york Ghostbusters Exclusive Video CBS All Access war binge Fox Searchlight 007 Indigenous spanish rom-coms cancelled television ABC Signature blockbusters Heroines political drama TCA Winter 2020 79th Golden Globes Awards stand-up comedy know your critic Nat Geo movies APB Schedule Premiere Dates Hulu National Geographic VH1 Lucasfilm 2015 Paramount Network broadcast revenge Cannes all-time sports Superheroes Logo singing competition YouTube black Oscars Family 24 frames Mary poppins Women's History Month RT History 20th Century Fox WGN NBA diversity mutant foreign medical drama PaleyFest Awards Tour cancelled TV shows richard e. Grant crossover blaxploitation Comedy Pop TV NYCC Winners Oscar fresh Character Guide Biopics spain adventure dramedy TCA 2017 Podcast Music kids 2020 Fantasy Instagram Live American Society of Cinematographers hollywood kaiju crime thriller mockumentary Sony Pictures Best Director comics debate Creative Arts Emmys A24 Universal comic Super Bowl The Witch Spike godzilla VOD Disney streaming service Chernobyl Television Academy Crunchyroll royal family new zealand psycho jamie lee curtis miniseries Hollywood Foreign Press Association Epix telelvision 45 Christmas legend First Reviews The Academy Avengers vs. witnail Amazon