Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending is a badly executed and over decorated knock-off of every action-fantasy you know since the Matrix.

From the streets of Chicago to the far-flung galaxies whirling through space, “Jupiter Ascending” tells the story of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who was born under a night sky, with signs predicting 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. (C) Warner Bros

The trailer for this movie looks interesting enough. Jupiter Ascending promises a heroine’s journey against the backdrop of a grand cosmic landscape. As far as blockbusters go, that fits the bill for two hours of distraction.

Unfortunately for a film so grand in scale, Jupiter Ascending can be summarized in one word – “meh”.

It does deliver grand spectacles in outer space, but Jupiter Ascending is basically a mash-up of every popular action-fantasy since the Matrix.

It has creatures recruited from the Tolkien universe or Mos Eisley Cantina, less colorful spaceships imported from the Guardians of Galaxy, laser battles reminiscent of Star Wars and backdrops copied from LOTR and the Matrix (occasionally mixed with steampunk, Victorian, and Gothic styles).

The badly executed plot is a hodgepodge of tropes and ideas. It doesn’t know what it wants to be – a cosmic fairytale? soap opera in space? interstellar capitalism? – then tries to tackle a whole bunch of ideas – the limits of time in an infinite universe, nature vs. nurture, bureaucracy and ethics. Jupiter Ascending is about everything and in the process becomes about nothing.  It’s not really clear what is at stake here. And yes, there’s a predictable love story.

In the middle of all this are stereotypical characters that the film has no time to flesh out.

Mila Kunis as the forgettable Jupiter Jones. Channing Tatum as Cain Wise the literal lone wolf. Sean Bean as Stinger the plot device. Eddie Redmayne as Balem Abrasax the power-hungry diva. The rest of the cast is forgettable including token POC in the background. They’re all capable enough (Redmayne is committed but turns in an awful interpretation of his character) but the script has nothing to give.

In the end, this blockbuster fodder is another cosmic misfire. Its derivative elements would have been forgivable if it had nuanced characters and a comprehensible plot. Unfortunately, it’s clear that the Wachowskis has went off the rails since the Matrix.

At its best Jupiter Ascending is a motivational piece for janitors who have low expectations. At its worst it’s a prefabricated blockbuster that nobody would have paid attention to if it weren’t for the names attached to it.

My Rating: 5/10

Spoiler Alert: Sean Bean didn’t die!

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