Did your friend have a different view of it? I ask because I have read some strong defences of the 'Transcendence' and while I don't actually disagree with elements of the defences (in as much as I won't deny the film ideas had huge potential and are interesting) I don't agree that the film is actually any good as a film.
It reminded me a little of last year's 'Elysium' (in as much as there's an idea at the heart of it all even if 'Elysium' is content to then give up pretending to care about the idea in favour of cartoon villainy and bad performances) and I think what you said about pretension is one of the reasons I disliked them more actively than just thinking 'that wasn't that good, but move along'.
Both appear to suffer from delusions they are more 'important' science fiction films than they actually are based on the end result. And at some point it becomes hard to care about the characters or even what the film is trying to say.
The Star Trek films may often operate on a simpler more bread and butter thematic level (as in 'Star Trek Into Darkness') but at least I found I could care about the characters as they moved through the story. But then that's what I've often said about the incarnations of 'Star Trek' - as long as I can care about the characters I can get through the below par and even downright terrible episodes and movies inbetween the good stuff. But (and this applies to all films and TV shows really) if you don't care about anything that happens to anyone and there therefore isn't another reason why you're watching (say, 'Transformers' - I'm only watching that because Bay does that type of action better than anyone else. It's the action I'm there for) then why even bother?
'If the Apocalypse starts, beep me!' - Buffy Summers
'The sky's the limit.....' Jean-Luc Picard, 'All Good Things'
courtesy of Saquist