Once again in an alternate universe, the world is grim and going to hell in a hand basket but there is one special person who has the answer that can save the universe in the totally inept, disjointed and absurd space opera, Jupiter Ascending.
If it’s February, it must be time for Hollywood studios to back up the trucks and dump their cinematic waste on movie audiences. The latest example is this heavy CGI-laden, mindless, nonsensical attack on the senses about a group of spoiled, misguided members of the alien House of Abrasax, the most powerful of the alien dynasties, quarreling over how to divide the universe after their matriarch dies.
The bratty threesome Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) and Titus (Douglas Booth) are at war over their inheritance but unbeknownst to them another heir, a janitor nonetheless, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) has come to their attention. Born under a sign that has her destined for royalty (who knew), she cleans toilets and houses with her Russian mother and lives under the tyranny of her strict family, hating her job and existence at every turn.
Enticed into harvesting her eggs to buy a telescope, a faction known as “the Keepers” try to kill her to deny her royal claim. But before you can say “bullshiggidy,” the mysterious stranger, Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) “steps up” and saves the day. Initially, Caine is sent to locate Jupiter for Balem but soon discovers his true motives and decides to protect “her majesty” at all costs.
Where to start with this total train-wreck of a movie that reportedly was a mix of Star Wars and The Matrix. The one thing that viewers will appreciate about those films in relation to this one is that each of them told a coherent and entertaining story, two qualities sorely missing from Jupiter Ascending. At no point do we care about these odd mix of characters or their motivation to accomplish their mission. Several main characters appear and disappear without any explanation, rhyme or reason; there are a host of odd interplanetary beings that also are designed to add texture but their origin and purpose are mysteries to the audience.
There is also a badly executed love story that the film unsuccessfully tries to implement between Jupiter and Caine that feels forced. She spends the majority of the film throwing herself on the hard-to-get warrior with mixed results. Much of the dialogue is laughably bad and despite both Kunis, Tatum and Redmayne’s best attempts neither can salvage Lana or Andy Wachowski’s poorly written words. One glaring example is an overlong, totally unnecessary sequence in the middle of the film when Jupiter tries to validate her royal claim. Designed for comic relief, the sequence left many in the theater groaning and checking their watches looking for an early escape.
Almost twenty years ago, The Wachowskis thrilled audiences with their sterling debut, Bound. They followed that film with the instant cult-classic, The Matrix. Watching their latest, one has to wonder if the early magic and promise they displayed is simply gone. This movie is so unfocused and all over the place, it feels like there once was a good movie in there somewhere but unfortunately it ended up on the cutting-room floor.
Redmayne nominated for Best Actor is only able to not lose Oscar cool points this year because he is NOT the frontrunner but if he had a chance his limp, lifeless performance would have him strongly on the verge of being Norbit 2.0. Kunis’ performance seems to be air-dropped from another film as the tone of her character is totally off. Much to our surprise, Tatum gives the lone solid performance in this forgettable but sure to be parodied sci-fi disaster.
Over the past ten years, this theme of the cinematic savior of humanity has played itself out in such notable films such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, Ender’s Game and a host of others. These stories notoriously are bereft of diversity with the hero most certainly always being a young White male or female. Can a minority, a young African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic-American be given the enormous responsibility of saving mankind? According to the powers that be in Hollywood and authors nationwide, apparently not.
Several years ago, we thought The Wachowskis had hit rock bottom with Speed Racer – boy were we wrong. To say Jupiter Ascending should be descending would be much too kind. They have created a story that only makes sense to them, leaving the audience totally baffled. The crippling demise of The Wachowskis is stunning based on their brilliant early work. Jupiter Ascending is a deeply-flawed and imperfect film whose best chance of rising is on what is sure to be a litany of worst film of the year lists.
Stay away from this stinkbomb . . . you’ve been warned!!!