Jupiter Ascending, 2015
Written and directed by The Wachowskis
Starring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton
In a bright and colorful future, a young destitute caretaker gets targeted by a ruthless son of a powerful family that live on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.
Channing Tatum recently just starred in Foxcatcher, delivering the best acting performance of his career, one where he was just edged out for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Current front-runner to win the Best Actor Oscar, Eddie Redmayne is here doling out one of the most ham-fisted and hilariously bad villainous performances of all time. Mila Kunis is here as the heir to Earth, but all we hear is Meg Griffin wanting to f*** Channing Tatum because uhh… he’s cute and randomly saved her life. Sean Bean is also here, but I don’t know why.
The point of all this is that Jupiter Ascending boasts a cast full of well-known names, many of whom are on the verge of great things in their career. Yet the only reaction to have is to bang your head repeatedly on a desk and ask “why why why” would any of these names willingly attach themselves to this project. Sure, you get to work with the Wachowskis, but they haven’t made a good movie since The Matrix… which released 15 years ago. Cloud Atlas was decent but the addition of Tom Tykwer tweaking that script probably balanced out the fluke-like luck of the Wachowskis.
Is Jupiter Ascending visually stunning to look at? Absolutely. Channing Tatum has hovering rollerskates that he uses in every action sequence, and it always yields exciting results. Watching him zip around rooms, Chicago, or space while firing laser guns at various alien lifeforms is probably the only enjoyment one can take out of the experience. It doesn’t help that the movie blows its load in the first 20 minutes with a stunning dogfight battle above the skies of Chicago, complete with explosions and destruction.
Seriously, the first act of Jupiter Ascending is rather enjoyable and will have many viewers questioning why critics are trashing the movie so harshly. And then the narrative kicks in; an atrociously told tale of space politics and cliches of being destined for greatness, that for as challenging to follow as it can be occasionally, is extremely thin and amounts to nothing more than “bad guys want Earth to fulfill nefarious deeds, Mila Kunis is the rightful owner of the planet, and for some reason she falls in love with Channing Tatum because she needs a hero and true love”.
There’s also the horrific acting that just adds insult to injury to what is already an insufferable plot. Eddie Redmayne wants to harvest Earth but it’s impossible to fear him or take him seriously when he sounds constipated. At least he dresses very fashionable. As previously mentioned, if you have ever watched an episode of Family Guy, good luck trying to take Mila Kunis seriously as Earth’s owner. She is capable of a decent performance (see Black Swan) but it sure as hell doesn’t come out here.
At the end of the day though I didn’t hate Jupiter Ascending. I felt like I have lost 20 IQ points but the grandiose scale of it all has to be admired along with the battle sequences that are surprisingly intense and easy to follow. Michael Giacchino’s score definitely adds an extra kick to the thrills. If you’re going to watch Jupiter Ascending, just be prepared for a very bad movie that is if nothing else, entertaining in its awfulness.
Truth be told it probably would have worked better as a TV show, so information can be distributed at a reasonable pace that better explores the world and characters. As it stands, the film just throws stuff at you to the point where it’s too much to take in, meaning once again that quite literally all there is to enjoy is the spectacle of the action.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. He currently writes for Flickering Myth, We Got This Covered, and Wrestle Enigma. Follow me on Twitter.
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