I must just be in a very good mood this month. Just in April I liked the ridiculous action picture Furious 7, the dopey romance movie Longest Ride and now the over the top scifi space opera movie Jupiter Ascending.
Directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski of Matrix fame Jupiter Ascending is just nutty enough to be entertaining. I can totally see why a majority of critics hated it because it is so silly but I didn’t take it very seriously and had fun with it.
Basically the plot is Mila Kunis plays Jupter Jones a daughter of Russian immigrants who finds out she is the reincarnation of an extra terrestrial queen who was murdered after being alive for 91 millennium (rough to go down that way!).
As the genetic match Jupiter can now ‘own’ the earth but the 3 children of the queen are not happy about this arrangement so they each send down emissaries who try to kill/capture Jupiter. This all catches her quite off guard as she is a simple cleaning lady.
Channing Tatum plays Caine Wise a part wolf species who is quiet, thoughtful and ‘one step up from a dog’. He is the hero of the movie constantly rescuing and listening too Jupiter prattle on about her life. Hmmm…I wonder if they are supposed to be together in the end?
Caine is hired to find and protect Jupiter so that she can marry one of the brothers named Titus played by Douglas Booth. All the performances in this movie are very campy and silly. Titus is kind of like Chuck from Gossip Girl in space.
Tuppence Middleton is the sister who tries to befriend Jupiter so she can manipulate her. She bathes in a special water daily that like the magic flower in Tangled makes her young. (She’s only been alive 14 millennium after all).
And finally Eddie Redmayne is Balem who is the rightful heir to Earth and is resentful this stupid girl has come to thwart his plans of literal world domination. He wants to keep earth as his harvest grounds for the eternity liquid which takes 100 people to make 1 vial and oversees a refinery of sorts to make the liquid. Redmayne is so ridiculous in the role with a quiet gravely ‘bad guy’ voice that I found hilarious when I think it was supposed to genuinely menacing. Either way I had fun watching it.
Sean Bean also appears as a tough guy who is part honeybee (like I said this is a nutty movie). Jupiter it turns out can rule the honeybees so Striker is easily convinced of her royal qualities. “Bees sense greatness when it is near them”…
I’m not sure if the Wachowskis intended there to be a strong Oedipus complex to the movie but especially considering Lana’s story it is a little strange. All 3 of these siblings are kind of in love with their mother and gush about how beautiful she was. One of them is about to marry her!
As we expect with a Wachowski film the visuals are dazzling and the characters are very creative in their design. The costumes, makeup and hair are also superb
The action is a ton of fun with the highlight being an early battle between Caine and Balem’s thugs in Chicago. Caine has these air powered rollerblades that let him fly around the city and the special effects look flawless. They create an easy out as far as humans by having a memory erasing device like in Men in Black so they can harvest their humans without anyone noticing.
That’s not to say the movie is perfect. I wish Jupiter had been a little bit of a stronger character. She makes some pretty dumb choices and is manipulated rather easily. She also is constantly the damsel in distress needing to be rescued.
It also gets a little Phantom Menacy with all the discussion of land ownership and the ‘rights’ to the Earth by the siblings. Too much exposition, a convoluted script and definite plotholes in the story detract a little. Jupiter’s earthly family is also a complete caricature of a Russian family. Quite cringe inducing but they are in the movie very little.
In a way it is too bad it did so poorly because I would be curious to see what the Wachowskis could do with this world. Perhaps Jupiter would be a stronger character in sequels but sadly we will never know.
I first heard about Jupiter Ascending because when it premiered at Sundance the crowds booed. I get it. It’s probably too nutty for a stuffy crowd like Sundance. It would have been better to premiere it at a comicon or something like that. I could see this movie developing a cult following of sci-fi fans who like the campiness and style of the film.
In the end Jupiter Ascending is far from a masterpiece but as a hokey piece of sci-fi family soap opera with some good action and beautiful world building I enjoyed it. With the exception of some very dopey dialogue driven scenes it clips along fast enough to keep me mildly engaged and amused. I don’t need to see it again but I enjoyed it none the less. The only thing I can think to compare it too is a really silly episode of Star Trek. It’s kind of like a telenovella but in space.
As far as content there is some nudity including more than one bare bottom and action fight sequences that get a bloody. No real language that I noticed.
So I’d say give it a shot and maybe you’ll find something to entertain you too!
Overall Grade- B Content Grade- B
To get a little more feel for the film here is the trailer.