The 2015 space opera starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum is the first large epic story that we’ve seen this year. Full of fantastic visuals and interesting designs, Jupiter Ascending is a unique adventure. However, just below the surface of visual wonderment is an abject failure of storytelling and understandable narrative.
The Wachowskis have wowed us with The Matrix and pretty much everything after that has been a quick descent into film history obscurity. Nothing of true measure works cohesively in this film. The film begins with a story of how Jupiter Jones’ (Mila Kunis) parents met each other back in Russia. Its a fairly innocent and throwaway story. It is reminiscent of Disney children’s films of the 1980s. Eventually we make it to modern times with Jupiter as a down on her luck janitor for the ultra wealthy. Her life is nothing but a modern take on the Cinderella story and frankly that one was more interesting. Its been done before and done to death.
So a “man” by the name of Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) shows up and rescues Jupiter at a vulnerable moment at the hands of some alien assassins. Like a knight in shining armor he comes to her aid in the exact moment she needs him and saves the day. While this introduction should have been a breathtaking moment to show off the movies effects it was largely boring, and ineffectual at setting a proper tone. From there, our heroes make it outside only to be attacked in grand fashion by a series of space ships. At this point, I thought to myself that maybe this was just a movie I could shut my brain off to and enjoy the 2 hour plus ride. I was unfortunately misguided in my assumptions. What came next was a 15 minute 1980s planetarium light show with the constant “pew pew pew” noise effect. From The Matrix to this!!!!?? Cool and uniquely designed space crafts fly pass the screen and put on this pathetic light dance and I couldn’t even be bothered to tell or care why. This makes the Star Wars prequels look like they used a level of special effects restraint in comparison. However, in the end this isn’t the films largest flaw.
What truly is the most frustrating aspect of The Wachowskis latest disaster is the inability to tell a cohesive story. Tight and sharp narrative is non-existent in Jupiter Ascending. Plot threads that just go unexplained are everywhere. The entirety of Jupiter’s relationship to the royal family is barely touched on and leaves so many questions; even now. Notions of reincarnation and harvesting materials of beings is all shown and in a flash gone to nearly never be mentioned again. The plot is one poorly constructed set piece, likely on fire, after another until we are out of space opera tropes. By the end, the audience was literally laughing at the insane dialogue Eddie Redmayne was forced to utter as the movie’s villain. Is it odd that I am just mention Redmayne, well that’s because he is barely in it. He is acting his heart out in a movie that he is simply better than. Trying to channel his own over the top ruler persona a la Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) in Gladiator. Redmayne seems so out of place because his actual effort is too much for this dunderheaded laserfest. Mila Kunis does an OK job with what she is given and Channing Tatum is awful. This is yet another role that he seemed to be picked for based on his physical attractiveness rather than his acting abilities, which he does possess. At this point, I am not sure he can carry a franchise on his own. Jupiter Ascending is a waste of everyone’s time and money. Do not bother going to the theater to see it. You would be better off watching Channing Tatum roller blade across the skyline from the comfort of your couch so you change the channel when you’ve had enough.
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