It’s not hard to see why Jupiter Ascending was delayed 9 months (and I don’t buy the official reasons) as it was one cluster-f of a film and the problem is, it wasn’t even an entertaining cluster-f. The acting is rather wooden though these actors aren’t given much to work with but on the plus side it looks and sound fantastic, even demo worthy, so if there’s any reason to pop this movie in, it’d be to show off your home theater.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Fantasy, Drama
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 128 min. – $45.95 | June 2, 2015
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
So THAT happened.
The Wachowskis have returned after much praise for Cloud Atlas, albeit domestic box office was lacking and the utter financial failure with Speed Racer, they still seem to have some pull at Warner to garner a hefty $150 million budget for something not based on any source material perhaps hoping lightning could strike twice following The Matrix Trilogy which netted over $840M domestically (w/ ticket inflation).
Unfortunately we’ll have to wait as Jupiter Ascending is one hot mess and it’s easy to see why it was delayed 9 months (supposedly for post production work) and what we got is a film ripe for riffing but not much else.
The story centers on a house cleaner named Jupiter Jones (MILA KUNIS) who hates her life having to wake up early every day, scrub toilets and at the end of the day sit down at a dinner table with cousins, uncles and other family members who argue over just about everything. In fairness to Jupiter, she hasn’t had the best life starting from in the womb when her father was murdered during a robbery (kind of surprised she didn’t grow up to be Batgirl or something) while she and her mother work tirelessly for minimal amount of money.
And this is where the plot gets… confusing and frankly needed to watch Honest Trailers to keep up. But not to bore you, this is the basic rundown: Balem Abrasax (EDDIE REDMAYNE), brother Titus (DOUGLAS BOOTH) and sister Kalique (TUPPENCE MIDDLETON) are inner space royalty and the brothers partake in planetary harvesting with Balem for resources and Titus to make an eternal youth liquid, in both instances, humans make for the right parts but one thing stands in their way: ownership of Planet Earth.
Alright, here’s where it gets fishy. So, Jupiter apparently strongly resembles the Abrasax’s mother, and perhaps is reincarnated, who was murdered, and is the rightful heir to Earth… or something. In any case, you’ve got different factions attempting to capture or kill Jupiter but in swoops Caine Wise (CHANNING TATUM), a half-man/half-wolf hybrid, to protect and rescue Jupiter from a variety of bounty hunters including one who strongly resembles Deadshot from “Arrow.”
After laying wreckage in the Chicago streets and skylines, though unlike Transformers the repairs are done within hours and memories wiped from witnesses so the citizenry are unaware of the aliens around them. Caine takes Jupiter to the home of Stinger Apini (SEAN BEAN) who, get this, is half man/bee(!) and this is driven home as his entire property, outside and inside, is swarming with them. And in making sure this wasn’t bizarre enough, the Wachowskis added the fact that, as Jupiter is surrounded by bees that mimic her movement, bees “are genetically designed to recognize royalty.”
There’s science fiction and then there’s batsh** crazy but this is not the good kind.
When Jupiter is captured by a couple of the bounty hunters, Caine manages to hitch a ride. At this planet, the name of which escapes me (but really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things), Jupiter is taken to meet Kalique where we get some exposition and allows Jupiter to be in awe and ask questions, which probably encompassed about 80% of her dialogue and if she isn’t speaking, employs doe-eyes.
I’m not sure what happened to the Wachowskis since The Matrix but with Jupiter Ascending being such a disappointment in spite of having studio backing, quality crew members and a very healthy $150-175 million budget, it would appear the two have lost their mojo. There isn’t one particular element wrong with the movie but several that, put together, makes not only a bad movie but a bad movie that isn’t very entertaining.
For one thing, the writing is bad almost all around. The dialogue is laughable employing the same nonsensical so-called philosophical chatter that bogged down the Matrix sequels (and even the original). It also doesn’t help that you have a cast that either looks lost (Channing Tatum) or outright bored (Mila Kunis). The other problem is the direction and in relation, pacing. After some lame exchanges between cardboard cutout characters we get bombastic action sequences that aren’t fun to watch, can be annoying, and even repetitive where we have Caine saving Jupiter in the nick of time twice and in both instances it was hardly suspenseful.
So, I’ll ask again, where is the Wachowskis who not only directed The Matrix but burst onto the scene with the incredibly fantastic crime-drama, Bound? I can’t say the two are bankrupt with ideas because as dumb as Jupiter Ascending was, it wasn’t ordinary, that’s for sure.
Beyond the writing and directing, the cast is utterly wasted. Channing Tatum, albeit not the world’s best actor, generally has shown great charm even in crap movies (White House Down) and hilarious comedic timing in others (the Jump Street films). But here, the movie is so far out there and the writing so awful, he can’t overcome playing an utterly lifeless character. And speaking of lifeless, Mila Kunis, another actress whose turned in fine performances, looks like she’d rather be somewhere else and had only a couple looks: confusion and wonderment, though sometimes the two blended. But as non-descript as she is, I can’t think of any actors (within her age) that could’ve done any better.
I won’t dwell too much on the supporting cast but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two of the actors. Sean Bean adds some nice weight yet it feels like he’s merely going through the motions, but I will give him credit for keeping a straight face playing a half man/half bee. However, the most noticeable performance, and easily the most entertaining one in the entire damn movie, is recent Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) who had some very… interesting mannerisms for his character mostly whispering his lines to the point where even the 7 channel HD track could barely pick up some of this words; and when he does speak up, it’s so laughably over-the-top yet still gives this DOA movie a blip of life. I’d be shocked if he didn’t win a Razzie next year.
In the end, I guess on paper Jupiter Ascending had some interesting ideas but it would seem the studio and production companies placed too much confidence in the Wachowskis in the hopes they could rekindle the fandom and fortunes brought with the Matrix movies but between this and Speed Racer, I can’t think they will have free reign again and certainly not at Warner unless they get desperate and revisit The Matrix universe…
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
This release comes with a glossy, title-embossed, slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy. Also includes a standard DVD Copy.
Jupiter Jones: Destiny Is Within Us (6:56; HD) – This short featurette serves as a profile on the main character with comments by the cast and crew intercut with scenes from the movie.
Caine Wise: Interplanetary Warrior (5:18; HD) is background on the lead hero with yet more interviews by the cast and crew. Like the previous, you it’s all pretty basic.
The Wachowskis: Minds Over Matter (7:25; HD) – The directors, along with the cast singing their praises, give their insights into helming the film.
Worlds Within Worlds Within Worlds (9:36; HD) provides info on the various planets and spaceships featured in the film.
Jupiter Ascending: Genetically Spliced (10:25; HD) looks at creatures known as “splicers,” hybrids of different species.
Bullet Time Evolved (9:35; HD) – The visual effects style which made The Matrix so memorable in the effects arena, gets an overhaul for the 21st century. It’s a neat featurette with behind-the-scenes footage on how some of the stunts and action scenes were shot.
From Earth to Jupiter (And Everywhere In Between) (9:34; HD) checks out the filming locations as well as the VFX to bring the other worlds come to life.
VIDEO – 5.0/5
The movie might not be great but boy oh boy is the video presentation amazing. The movie is shown in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. Detail levels throughout are sharp, colors appear to be well balanced in spite of this being a darker looking movie while black levels are nice and stark showing no apparent signs of artifacts or aliasing.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
Not to be outdone, Jupiter Ascending receives a Dolby Atmos track (w/ a TrueHD 7.1 core) and it utilizes each and every channel to perfection. From the (few) quieter more dialogue driven scenes to the (numerous) action-oriented scenes, this track certainly packs a punch. Every channel is used from the front and center channels even to the rear speakers which normally are employed for ambient noises and such. The LFE track was impressive on its own as it never goes overboard yet still provides nice depth.
OVERALL – 2.75/5
Overall, it’s not hard to see why Jupiter Ascending was delayed 9 months (and I don’t buy the official reasons) as it was one cluster-f of a film and the problem is, it wasn’t even an entertaining cluster-f (unlike Batman & Robin). The acting is pretty wooden though these actors aren’t given much to work with but on the plus side it looks and sound fantastic, even demo worthy, so if there’s any reason to pop this movie in, it’d be to show off your home theater.
Brian Oliver aka The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.