27 April 2014 1:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

It flopped in the States, but Wally Pfister's big-budget feature debut is ambitious, thoughtful sci-fi fare

Having opened to disappointing box office and derisory reviews in the Us (a pattern quite possibly destined to be repeated here in the UK), this first feature from Oscar-winning cinematographer-turned-director Wally Pfister has drawn cruel comparison to John Carter, another big budget sci-fi fantasy that sent critics and audiences running for the hills. Yet unlike Andrew Stanton's headbangingly boring adaptation of a much-loved source text (which, at an estimated $250m, cost more than twice the amount of Transcendence), Pfister's take on Jack Paglen's long-lauded script (which appeared on the 2012 "Black List" of most-feted unproduced screenplays) is guilty of nothing more than an admirable willingness to risk ridicule in pursuit of an interesting idea.

Big on conceptual ambition, this handsomely mounted technophobic fable is surprisingly short on crowd-pleasing explosions (the comparative lack »

- Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

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