Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs. 7 min.

Release Date: February 6th, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: The Wachowskis Actors: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton, Doona Bae, Vanessa Kirby

 


 

“J

upiter Ascending” has very little in common with “The Matrix,” a fact that is both refreshing and unfortunate. While the latter was a cohesive vision of a dystopian future fallen victim to technology, the former appears to be cobbled together with random ideas from the last thirty years of science-fiction cinema. The weapons, vehicles, spaceships, and genetic creations are paired with little explanation and too much variety.

Multiple worlds are introduced within the opening minutes and oftentimes no two creatures of the same species can be witnessed on a densely populated starship bridge. It’s as if the entire six-movie-spanning galaxy of “Star Wars” was crammed into a two-hour film. “Jupiter Ascending” borrows heavily from the genre, recalling everything from “The Fifth Element” to “Men in Black,” and while it opts to purloin some revelations from “The Matrix,” it regrettably does not adopt that picture’s inspired sense of grandiose action. A cacophony of lights and sounds frequently fill the screen, yet almost nothing stands out.

Working endless hours with her mother as a maid, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) despises her life. But her repetitious routines are abruptly halted when intergalactic bounty hunters attempt to kidnap her and shape-shifting aliens seek her eradication. In order to avoid certain death, Jupiter must put her trust in Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a combat proficient ex-military tracker. As she travels between worlds with her genetically altered protector, Jupiter encounters feuding royal siblings Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Titus (Douglas Booth), and Kalique Abrasax (Tuppence Middleton) and discovers she is a pawn in a ruthless bid for power where her choices will affect the very fate of Earth.

Like Eddie Murphy’s lost Oscar win from “Dreamgirls” due to a mind-numbingly wacko turn in “Norbit,” Eddie Redmayne just might lose his own golden statue for “The Theory of Everything” thanks to “Jupiter Ascending.” Time and time again, villains are scripted to be deathly serious and emotionlessly robotic, as if a lack of a personality lends to evilness. Instead, the more coldblooded and impassive the actor gets, the sillier the antagonist becomes. Here, Balem is downright laughable during numerous moments, especially when he shouts maniacally in failed attempts at unpredictable bloodlust.

The majority of “Jupiter Ascending” is borrowed from preexisting materials, both in themes and visuals. Destiny, true love, and the fall of entire kingdoms are concepts unoriginal to sci-fi fairy tales. As seen in the Wachowskis’ “Matrix” films, the ideas of suddenly unveiling a previously hidden world and using humankind as a harvestable natural resource are similarly recycled ideas (and the evils of capitalism, greed, and consumption are staples of futuristic totalitarian worlds). “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” “TRON,” and “Brazil” are just a few of the projects that clearly inspire this muddled merger of outer space fantasies. “A dream is the only way any of this makes sense!”

Though some of the spacecrafts, background aliens, environments, and technologies contain amusing designs, the lead characters possess the least amount of innovation. None of them even exhibit uniquely cinematic skills. The action sequences share this absence of creativity, instead relying on chaos, slow-motion, neon laser blasts, massive explosions, and a shirtless Tatum to distract from a deficiency in movie magic. No stunt or gimmick is memorable or suspenseful, especially as contrived resolutions are whipped up spontaneously and genuine peril remains permanently wanting. With its dependence on CG and colorful mayhem, it feels very much like a Marvel production – if only that name was attached to it, “Jupiter Ascending” would be box office gold. And the release date would have to be bumped to the summer blockbuster months.

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10