Directors: The Wachowskis
Stars: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton
Jupiter Jones (Kunis) is a Russian immigrant cleaning toilets for a living. A desperate attempt to make some quick cash goes awry when aliens try to kill her, but Caine (Tatum) rescues her. She’s thrust into a galactic struggle when she finds out that she’s the reincarnation of the matriarch of the Abrasax family, who are now squabbling over Earth. Jupiter has to deal with each of these as they try and manipulate her.
Funnily enough Jupiter Ascending was one of my most anticipated films of the year. I’m a total nut for sci-fi and space opera, and the trailers captivated me. Sadly, the story does not live up to the visual spectacle. It’s disjointed, and lacks focus. And it’s a shame because there is a lot of good stuff here. There’s a whole civilisation presented with its own history. I liked the concept of genetic manipulation being a mark of progress and how the Abrasax family used it to their advantage. The hierarchy of the dynasty was interesting too, and it seems like the film only scratched the surface of what could be a complex and interesting world. There are so many different races that it appealed to the part of me that loves the depth of fictional universes like Star Trek and Star Wars but it was the human element that let it down.
Jupiter just wasn’t a compelling character. The whole reason she was important wasn’t declared soon enough, and her reactions were just odd in some ways, like when they started calling her ‘Your majesty’ she wasn’t freaked out, and it took her ages to actually ask them why they started calling her that. That whole revelation was just bizarre as well; it was found out because bees didn’t attack her and bees have respect for royalty. Where the hell did that come from? I can’t believe that actually got written into the script.
The romance was forced and I didn’t feel any chemistry between Kunis and Tatum either. It was the old cliché of them meeting and falling in love without much interaction, and it fell completely flat. The whole conflict seemed muddled as well, for the siblings were said to be warring with each other but they had their own sections of the film and in the end they didn’t really interfere with each other’s plans too much. The ending felt falsely happy as well, as Jupiter made a startling discovery but then doesn’t seem to do anything about it.
The pacing is off, the humour fell flat, and it just felt shallow. Which is a great shame considering Cloud Atlas had such depth to it. Perhaps the Wachowskis should concentrate on bringing their visual flair to other creative properties, because really Jupiter Ascending is gorgeous. The different environments are detailed, the aliens are unique, the general aesthetic of the film is just beautiful. The scope and epicness of the scenes are captured well and the action, unlike the plot, is paced perfectly. I have no complaints in that department, but it is with a heavy heart that I cannot give my recommendation to Jupiter Ascending.