JUPITER ASCENDING reminds me of going to the bookstore as a kid and looking at all the paperbacks in the Science Fiction section. I would always pick up something “lite” like a Star Trek book. But the others with their cool looking covers would send my imagination into overdrive. And for me, JUPITER ASCENDING was The Wachowskis bringing those awesome book covers to life.
There is a good 90 minute version of JUPITER ASCENDING somewhere within the films 127 minute runtime. The more I describe the new Wachowskis film to friends, I find myself liking it less and less. But rest assured I'm still a fan of their work and willing to give the film a second chance if a extended version or director's cut becomes available on home video.
Essentially the film is a Cinderella space opera set in a bright and colorful future. Mila Kunis plays Jupiter, a destitute caretaker who's life life is about to change. What Jupiter doesn't know is that she is the reincarnation of a queen. To keep things simple lets just say she is the reincarnation of a space queen. Queen to a intergalactic royal family of spoiled brats. These brats are actually thousands of years old.
To keep this less convoluted as possible I'll try to explain things even simpler. Balem Abrasax has his claim of Earth, but Jupiter Jones is the rightful heir. An assassination attempt is made and Titus Abrasax hires Caine Wise (Channing Tatum)to find Jupiter Jones and keep her safe. Once safe and sound Jupiter bureaucratically becomes royalty and rightful heir to Earth. The Abrasax family secret of harvesting earthlings to make cell rejuvenation cream is discovered. Will Jupiter forfeit Earth to save her family and the entire human race? Or can her and Caine put a stop to Balem?
Like I mentioned earlier, the more that I think about this film the less I like it. Besides the convoluted plot, we've got a severely miscast lead in Mila Kunis. After the Star Wars prequels I could understand why Natalie Portman would be done with space adventures, but I think she would have been a far better choice for Jupiter Jones.
And I felt Channing Tatum was under utilized. He did an okay job but I honestly felt he was more bad ass in the 21 Jump Street films. Sorry, but his gravity boots weren't as cool as the movie wanted you to think they were. I never thought I'd say this but I'm finding Tatum far more compelling in films like FOXCATCHER than in action/adventure roles.
As action is concerned, this movie could've had more of Channing Tatum and Sean Bean kicking ass, and less of Mila Kunis falling through the sky and screaming. It happens a lot and quickly annoying.
Yes, Sean Bean is in this thing and he's cool as usual. One thing though. I didn't quite catch his genetic splicing ability? His name is Stinger because he was spliced with a bee. And the house he was living in could double as a hive. But I guess his “ability” was loyalty? I mean Caine was spliced with a dog or wolf, and at least he did some dog like stuff whereas with Stinger I was never sure. It doesn't really matter I guess.
But the acting highlight of JUPITER ASCENDING is Eddie Redmayne as Balem Abrasax, the films villain. I had a blast with his performance. It's peculiar to down right laughably bad. It begs the question, what was he thinking! Especially after knocking it out of the park with THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING where he played Steven Hawking. I was talking to a friend a work and we both think that Eddie's chances of an Oscar this year are completely shot now. But holy cow, wouldn't it be amazing if he won! It'd be hilarious, but that's just me.
For me the only thing JUPITER ASCENDING has going for it is the visuals. The production design and costumes are awesome. The special effects were a nice change of pace from all out CGI. Most of the action was shot with blue screen. A practice you don't see much anymore. While it does look dated I prefer this old school method over heavy CGI. Because it feels like you are watching a film, not a video game.
I'd only recommend JUPITER ASCENDING to those who like space adventure movies. Especially ones from the 80's. This would make a great double feature with FLASH GORDON (1980). Just make sure you watch JUPITER ASCENDING first, that way you don't fall asleep.