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Yet that transcendent being is persecuted and despised by those it wants to save—even those who purportedly loved it at one time. Eventually, even the person closes to him comes to distrust him ("why did you lose faith in me? Why didn't you believe in me?"). The only way to save her, and save the world, is to return to earth, to become embodied once more. But then, he must sacrifice himself. And he leaves behind a still-broken world, though one with the potential for regeneration.

And then there's the last bit of the movie, in which we return to a garden where things still bloom, where life still exists. That garden, we're told, was created "for the same reason he did everything—so that they could be together."

Obviously, this isn't a theologically perfect analogy in any way. But even if it's mixing the lines between creation and created, Trinity and man, death and rebirth, it's certainly following some familiar plot lines that Christians can recognize. Where it fails as plot and character sketch, Transcendence becomes weirdly successful as a sort of cockeyed analogy for the gospel and the painful, tragic, violent beauty of the Incarnation and Christ's crucifixion.

Perhaps it makes sense this is being released on Good Friday.

All that aside, Transcendence is yet another movie that shows how important our bodies are to our full humanity, and as our computers and phones and watches and glasses get smarter, and as we get more and more removed from one another, that seems to be something we care about. (Brett McCracken wrote about this beautifully when he reviewed Her for us.) Lower your expectations if they're raised by the IMAX screen, don't expect an epic warning plot or a careful humanist character sketch, and you'll be just fine.

Caveat Spectator

Transcendence is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality, but it's one of the "cleanest" PG-13 films I've seen in a long time, suitable for most teenagers and adults. The only "strong language" I caught was a solitary euphemism for human excrement. There is certainly violence—mostly people getting shot—but nothing gratuitous. There are some very brief scenes that imply sex between married people in which we see nothing. And there are intimations of vast impending doom that could be scary, but nothing that should evoke nightmares.

Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic. She is assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City and editor at QIdeas. She tweets @alissamarie.

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