It’s been 16 years since the The Wachowskis (Andy and Lana) gave the world “The Matrix”, a movie in which people were nothing more than batteries for robots. In their latest science fiction-Shakespearean mashup, “Jupiter Ascending”, Earthlings are cattle, used by space royalty to prolong life.
These two really don’t think much of humanity, huh?
The most frustrating thing about “Jupiter Ascending” is that there is a great movie to be made here. While most of Hollywood recycles idea after idea, sequel after sequel, the Wachowskis think on a grand scale and create a universe that, on the surface, is compelling and interesting.
But, like most directors of their ilk that write their own screenplays, the dialogue and characters bring the movie down faster than Channing Tatum’s Caine Wise brings down Chicago’s Sears Tower in a firefight with aliens. Once the mumbo jumbo about planet titles, space police, and political backstabbing kicks in, “Jupiter Ascending” gets unintentionally silly and downright laughable.
Caine is on Earth to find Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), herself an alien of sorts as her mother illegally entered the United States after escaping the Soviet Union. She cleans homes for a living, but little does she know that she’s a modern day Cinderella. Turns out, she’s the reincarnation of a space Queen and she actually “owns” Earth.
See, every planet in the universe is owned by aliens. In this case, Earth is owned by Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne), who was bequeathed it by his now dead mother. In the oddest case of property law ever, Jupiter is the rightful heir to our planet as Balem’s reborn mother.
Confused? Let’s throw in the fact that Balem is embroiled in political planetary warfare with his younger siblings, Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) and Titus (Douglas Booth). They all have their reasons for fighting over more planets, ranging from greed to power to glamour. If these three characters were in any way menacing or interesting, it surely would help sooth the stupidity surrounding it all.
If that doesn’t keep your head spinning, there’s all sorts of unearthed plot involving Legionnaires, half-wolf-man people, and the fact that bees can smell royalty. It’s enough crazy information to glaze the eyeballs of even the staunchest sci-fi fans.
The good news is not only does Sean Bean show up as Stinger, a former colleague of Caine, he is actually not a villain. The bad news is that Stinger is named that for a reason and he unfortunately gets to recite one of the most groan worthy monologues in recent movie history about the aforementioned bees. It’s painful to see the actor who magnificently played Ned Stark from “Game of Thrones” reduced to such silliness.
“Jupiter Ascending” throws a bucket of cold water on the fire that has been Channing Tatum’s career. This movie doesn’t even play into his good looks, putting elf ears and a ridiculously dyed beard on him. Sure, he looks great as he essentially speed skates through the air in his magical anti-gravity boots, but his emotionless Caine is a bore.
Mila Kunis is in almost every minute of the movie and she’s very good. Her character is the only one with range and she’s incredibly charming. She only falters when the horrid screenplay bombs out and she’s forced to talk about space with the other boring characters running around in this universe. If anything, Kunis can use this movie as evidence that given the right material, she can be the lead in any type of film.
Eddie Redmanye should be contacting lawyers to try to halt this movie’s release. Redmanye speaks throughout the entire movie as if words cause him pain. There are a few moments when he emotes so heavily that it’s snort laughter bad.
If there ever was a performance that is so poor in one movie that it affects how Oscar voters decide to vote on the worth of a performance in an entirely different movie, this could be it. That is how horrendous Redmayne is in “Jupiter Ascending”.
If there is a problem with the effects, which overall are good, it’s the obvious “green screen” moments. There are some backgrounds without any weight and, even when seen in 3-D, look completely one dimensional. It’s odd that a movie goes from state of the art, cutting edge CGI to what looks like something from 1975 in only a few minutes.
The last thirty minutes of “Jupiter Ascending” are exhausting. The movie hopes to end on an epic high, but may only inspire theater goers to hit the exits and immediately feel the need for a nap.
There is a comedic interlude about midway through the movie that is clearly inspired by Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”. It’s neat that a certain former Monty Python guy shows up on screen, but “Jupiter Ascending” is so brutally bad that seeing this sequence only makes you wish you were actually watching “Brazil” instead.
Own “Jupiter Ascending” on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on June 2nd.