Jupiter Ascending is currently playing in theaters
Jupiter Ascending (2015) – Rated PG-13
“In a bright and colorful future, a young destitute caretaker gets targeted by a ruthless son of a powerful family that live on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.”
I was blown away by Jupiter Ascending. Sadly it was not in a good way. I adored the Wachowskis’ Cloud Atlas and though it was one of the best films of that year even if the science fiction segments were the weakest link. This caused me to have hope for Jupiter Ascending and yet, where Cloud Atlas was imaginative and heartfelt, Jupiter Ascending is an utter mess.
We begin with the beautiful Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) scrubbing toilets. I mention beautiful because she in no way appears to be the destitute maid/cleaner that the movie would like to portray her as (and that toilet didn’t really need cleaning). This is the equivalent of the high school movies about the ugly duckling who takes off her glasses, lets down her hair, and is suddenly the prom queen.
Intergalactic Skate Boy (TM) Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) arrives to rescue her from mysterious space baddies out to capture or kill her. The Wachowskis clearly wanted to make this a Silver Surfer movie but lacked the rights. Finding himself outnumbered, he seeks help from former colleague, Stinger Exposition (Sean Bean).
Jupiter finds that she is the reincarnated heir to the galactic throne currently shared by three siblings, Female Exposition Abrasax (Tuppence Middleton), Male Exposition Abrasax (Douglas Booth), and Screaming Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne). As you might guess from my description, there is a LOT of exposition in the movie.
The movie flow is Exposition dump – action sequence – pretty scenery – rinse and repeat. There is actually only one scene that does not fit that mold and is so out of place, it feels lifted from another movie. That sequence is a wonderful Catch-22 involving the paperwork behind Jupiter’s birthright. It is surreal and good for a laugh. The problem with it is that it IS actually lifted from another film, Brazil to be precise. The Wachowskis can call it an homage though because they stuck Terry Gilliam in it with a wink and a nod.
I applaud them for replacing the Bondian unnecessarily slow dipping mechanism with an unnecessarily slow rising mechanism. Beam me up, Scotty but feel free to take several minutes to do so. I’m surprised that the characters didn’t look at their watches or tap their feet as they rose.
Also the villains are confounded by Caine’s shoes but never take them away from him. Why not let him keep a gun, too? Hilariously, in the third act (VERY VAGUE SPOILER), it appears that the villain has honestly, and ridiculously, chosen to live in what amounts to a glass house. How this person survived so long is a question for the ages.
The movie is very pretty but is effectively Cloud Atlas’ Matrix Revolutions. You know, the two Matrix sequels made by the Wachowskis that made you question whether The Matrix was actually as brilliant as you thought it was.