Synopsis: Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along–her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
Release Date: February 6, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action
With Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowskis have returned to the genre that made them household names, but with a bolder, fantastical vision. Where The Matrix may have been a sci-fi tale, Jupiter Ascending incorporates elements that blur the line between believability and imagination. It’s easily their most ambitious and boldest film to date, but in the hopes of delivering something great the directors have struggled to keep every ball in the air. The pitch for Jupiter Ascending is great, but condensing it into a succinct, cogent 2-hour movie hurts the end product quite a bit.
Like any great sci-fi story, Jupiter Ascending begins with a hero, or in this case a heroine. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis from Ted) is the typical working class illegal immigrant, working a thankless job and aspiring to something greater. And that something greater manifests in the form of Caine Wise (White House Down‘s Channing Tatum), an alien space cop turned bounty hunter who has been hired to bring Jupiter to interstellar royalty. Turns out, Jupiter is not some ordinary Earthling, but an heir to a vast intergalactic empire, and that puts her in stark opposition to the Abrasax family, Balem (The Theory of Everything‘s Eddie Redmayne), Titus (Douglas Booth), and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), who have held dominion over large portions of the universe for quite some time.
In a lot of ways, Jupiter Ascending calls to mind Frank Herbert’s Dune, with its central hero’s journey mixed with some backhanded politics. Some of it is intriguing, but a lot of it feels misguided. The Abrasax siblings’ squabbles, for example, bring a complexity to the story that makes it feel original, but the film doesn’t do enough with them. Each sibling gets their moment to shine, but there’s far too much attention paid elsewhere; like the budding romance between Jupiter and Caine. You can clearly see that the Wachowskis put a lot of time into plotting out the backstory of these interconnected societies, planets, etc., but the film never does enough to make them standout.
Everything in Jupiter Ascending lacks personality, from the characters to the set pieces to the visual effects. Each element on screen has no doubt been meticulously thought out and cared for, but none of that translates on screen. There’s so much cinematic life on screen, but it’s mostly pretty soulless – a lot of whiz-bang and not enough heart. Even the side characters, who are meant to give the film a little extra color, are thinly drawn and mostly built for exposition or world building. Sean Bean comes out the best of the bunch as Caine’s former mentor Stringer Apini, but he floats in and out of the narrative.
Sci-fi fans will likely come away from Jupiter Ascending feeling fulfilled on their quotient of alien races, space ships, ray guns, and unique worlds, but Jupiter Ascending hardly makes those elements memorable, or in some cases engaging. There’s a great pitch to the film and some really fascinating potential, but The Wachowskis exceeded their reach with this one, delivering a film that presents all of these unique ideas but doesn’t give them a purpose or a personality. In the end, that equates to mindless entertainment that for some people will be just fine, but for others will be extremely off-putting. If the marketing didn’t do much for you, the finished film won’t change your mind.
Although Jupiter Ascending‘s visuals and set pieces are thrilling from a creative standpoint, their execution is severely lacking. With so much happening on screen at any one time, from zipping spacecrafts to Wise’s jet boots, it’s oftentimes hard to follow the action. Add to that an overreliance on CGI and it becomes hard to muster up any excitement or connection with the action sequences, let alone to feel tense or on the edge of your seat. There’s no question that the Wachowskis’ have a keen eye for visuals and they know how to deliver action that feels unique, but many of Jupiter Ascending’s sequences feel soulless and therefore are hardly memorable. At times there are flashes of thrill or excitement, but they are few and far between. It’s sub-par work from director’s who are more than capable of doing better, and that’s disappointing.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Andy Wachowski
- Screenwriter(s): Andy WachowskiLana Wachowski
- Cast: Mila Kunis (Jupiter Jones)Channing Tatum (Caine Wise)Sean Bean (Stinger Apini) Eddie Redmayne (Balem Abrasax)Douglas Booth (Titus Abrasax)
- Editor(s): Alexander Berner
- Cinematographer: John Toll
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Michael Giacchino
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA