Jupiter Ascending – Movie Review

Jupiter AscendingJupiter Ascending – PG-13
Release Date: Fri 06 Feb 2015

The Wachowskis have written and directed this fantasy action movie starring Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones, the genetic reincarnation of the former queen of the universe. Jupiter grows up as a normal woman on earth, working as a maid with her immigrant family from Russia. It is Caine (Channing Tatum) who rescues her from a group of murderous aliens and begins to show her that there’s more to life than what’s on Earth, and more to her specifically as the heir to her previous incarnation.

Jupiter Ascending throws futuristic alien technology around without much in the way of explanation. You would be forgiven for thinking Jupiter Ascending is science fiction, but it’s much more a fantasy. Much of it feels like a modern live-action fairy tale, as if the forthcoming Disney Cinderella were set in space and people swooped around in hover boots. The story forgoes much in the way of a deeper philosophy too, feeling more like a vaguely anti-consumption-culture message that is less subtle than Soylent Green. The main cast do well with their performances, particularly Eddie Redmayne as a soft-spoken villain that can snap into an instant rage.

The early part of the movie works the best as it explains how the aliens hide themselves from humanity, and the early scenes with Caine and Jupiter on Earth escaping the bounty hunters and meeting up with Sean Bean’s Stinger (and his many bees) is interesting and really builds up the characters well. Once Earth is left to visit the three children of Jupiter’s last incarnation, much of the grounding of the first act falls away. Everything is so bizarre and art directed to look beautiful and/or cool that it completely fails to convince the eye that there are real places and characters on the screen. An amusing bureaucracy scene is the end of the fun part of the movie, after which it’s simply a question of which (if any) of the three children Jupiter will find an ally.

This also leads to the second and third act disconnecting the action from the story by having the action sequences almost completely based around Caine (who before this point has not had scenes without Jupiter) and story sequences left for Jupiter and whichever of the children is trying to win her over. She must be rescued multiple times by Caine before she does something the audience actively knows is wrong. We switch from learning about the world through her eyes to waiting for Caine to inevitably save her from trusting the wrong people.

The first third of the movie is a great setup to an ultimately disappointing middle and end. It’s beautiful to look at, but the story is bankrupt and actually seems to repeat itself by the end. I can’t recommend it for the story and despite The Wachowskis still knowing how to make great spectacle, they may be better served directing stories with more interesting plots than this one has to offer.

Jeremiah, Aaron and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car:

JupiterAscending

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