Jupiter Ascending (2015)

jupiterascending_2015_poster
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
  • Time: 125 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
  • Directors: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
  • Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne

Storyline:

Jupiter Jones was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning toilets and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

9 reviews

  • Quickie Review:

    Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is an ordinary woman stuck being a maid, cleaning toilets for life. She is thrown into extraordinary circumstances when discovering that she is the heir to planet Earth. Soon, Jupiter is forced into a power struggle with the remaining chain of inheritance of the cosmos. Jupiter Ascending is the latest attempt by the Wachowskis to recapture the success they had with The Matrix trilogy. There is a lot to like about this movie, visually it is stunning and the universe that is built is rich in detail. However, the film gets so caught up in the details that as a whole the story gets unnecessarily convoluted. Nevertheless, Jupiter Ascending is a passable sci-fi fantasy to experience on the big screen.

    Full Review:

    Over the past decade the Wachowskis have had a lot of misses. It has caused many including myself to suspect that The Matrix may be the exception rather than the rule on their ability to make a great film. So I’ll admit I had very low expectations for this one.

    There is one thing that will be undisputed amongst everybody, visually Jupiter Ascending is gorgeous. The art design from planets, to ships, to costumes are beautifully crafted and unique from anything I’ve seen before. Then there are the action set pieces that were very well shot, delivering a lot of intensity to the chases and shoot outs. These were the scenes where I had the most fun, and watching it in IMAX was worth it for the immersion. I must say the universe created for the film, with the trade systems, species, and the worlds, is impressively diverse. You can tell there is a lot of backstory to how this universe functions. I wouldn’t mind reading a book about even because of its depth, but this leads me to what doesn’t work with the film.

    Simply put, there is a lot of exposition about the trading systems, bureaucracy, and politics. It gets to the point where there is a collections of scenes dedicated to showing Mila Kunis going from one office to another trying get her inheritance. Even when that’s done, the supporting cast spend significant time explaining their involvement rather than just showing it. Another frustration I had with the film was the rinse and repeats of the same sequence of events three times: Jupiter is kidnapped, exposition by supporting character, Jupiter rescued by Caine (Channing Tatum). Three times! Finally, the biggest wasted potential of the movie, Eddie Redmayne. We know he is an incredible actor from Theory of Everything, but here he is reduced to a botox lipped generic villain with an absent middle to his mood spectrum. He will be whispering ever so lightly then he would explode into a raging scream in a millisecond. I’m sorry but that’s laughable, not menacing.

    There has been a lot of negativity online about this movie, and as you can see I haven’t pulled back my punches on the negatives either. In the end, it is still a watchable movie with some entertaining set pieces and great visuals. Jupiter Ascending is not revolutionary, but it is also not a disaster. Best way to describe it is through my friend’s first reaction, “not as bad as I expected,” yet that doesn’t make it great.

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  • With a bloated budget of over $175 million, a release date that seems to have been delayed by several months, and reviews from the nation’s critics that prove to be less than overwhelming, Jupiter Ascending might be destined for doom. I’m here to tell you however, that it’s not that bad. At a running time of two hours and change, this is a tighter version of what we have come to expect from the Wachowski siblings (Lana and Andy). Every since they gained worldwide fame via The Matrix, their mantra has been outlandish plot workings, variable themes on a universe that we thought we knew, funky characters explaining themselves through rules or anomalies before taking action, and lush, saturated production values that come off as a little overcooked. “Ascending” indeed has these Wachowski trademarks tattooed all over it. But with it, comes less ambition and more informality.

    Not necessarily taking place in the future but instead frolicking in saucy visual splendor, Jupiter Ascending is a little Fifth Element, a little Star Wars, and a little Guardians of the Galaxy. The story begins by harvesting an uneven contingent between the setting of present day Chicago and the freakish, planetary hesitance of ancient astronauts (you can also call them aliens if you want). Poor Windy City resident and maid to order Jupiter Jones (played by Mila Kunis), is actually heir to all seeded planets in multiple solar systems (who knew). The movie doesn’t really explain why but it thrusts her into a world of ruthless dialings who want to kill her and steal her inheritance. Three children from the quote unquote “House of Abrasax” are after her. Their names are Balem (played by Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (played by Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (played by Douglas Booth). Only half-man, half-wolf Caine Wise (played by megastar Channing Tatum) can save Jupiter. He’s got a special set of skills, big ears, and plenty of shields. To quote a 1998 Foo Fighters song, “there goes my hero, watch him as he goes”. Nuff said.

    To my dismay, Jupiter Ascending is probably the easiest film to follow (storywise) in the Wachowski’s uncanny arsenal. In terms of the acting, it’s hit-or-miss (but in truth, it’s mostly hit). Beefcake Tatum as the lead protagonist (and hero), dons an effective British accent and meets the physical demands of his role. His only misstep is that he sometimes overacts as Caine with spas mastic face grimacing. Oh and then there is his hover boarding feet which makes it appear like he’s skating away from his enemies. I felt like I was watching Xanadu all over again coupled with a dramatic channeling of Roller Boogie (break out the tube socks people, just kidding). As the antagonist and alien form who wants Earth all to his lonesome, Eddie Redmayne (a newly crowned Oscar nominee) is ominous and creepy playing Balem Abrasax. His eyes alone will give you the heebie jeebies. That leaves Mila Kunis contributing as Jupiter Ascending’s weakest asset. She plays the object of supposed royalty and with some truly vague line readings, strains in scene after scene. This is an actress that belongs in a summer romcom or a That ’70’s Show reunion, not a dramatic sci-fi actioner.

    Speaking of action scenes, they are abundant in Jupiter Ascending. With other films by the Chicago-born duo, you have to patiently wait for slow buildups and then short payoffs. Not this one. If you revert back to the Wachowski’s epic yarn Cloud Atlas, there was a story vignette in it called “Neo Seoul, 2144”. The laser gun battles featured are similar here in scope and in sound. They are relentless, breakneck, and shot with trigger-happy intensity.

    Overall though, despite its tantalizing movie poster and the exciting, swashbuckling antics of star Tatum (and even co-star Sean Bean who plays the Han Solo-like, Stinger), nothing can mask the notion that Jupiter Ascending is still just another, all too familiar action adventure. The Wachowskis try to one up every other filmmaker in the realms of costume design, makeup artistry (the characters are way too nasty and funked up for their own good), and good old fashioned visual effects (you gotta wonder that if this flicks bombs, was it worth it to have over 1000 cast and crew members contribute? Just curious). In all honesty, this is preferably hot air from the brother and sister team of mighty Chi town. They take their action packed skit from 2012’s Cloud Atlas and stretch it to a full length featurette. Result: Something that “ascends” into a gallantly mixed review from me.

  • Tony Barton

    Life throughout the universe has been secretly manipulated by alien royalty, for the purpose of harvesting the many lifeforms once they reach the Darwinian state of perfection, in order to be used in a serum that allows eternal life. The leader of the all powerful House of Abrasax, dies, which gets her children, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) and Titus (Douglas Booth), fighting over the inheritance.

    Back on Earth, Maximilian Jones (James D’Arcy), meets Aleska (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and gets married. Is love of Astronomy, sees Maximilian planing to name his unborn daughter Jupiter, a name that Aleska is against at first. However, Aleska relents when Maximilian is killed, during a break in at their home.

    Years later, Jupiter (Mila Kunis), works with Aleska and her aunt cleaning the homes of the wealthy. Jupiter decides to sell her eggs, but discovers that all the medical team are aliens sent by Balem. However, she is saved by Cane (Channing Tatum), a specially manufactured hunter sent to earth by Titus, to track her down.

    Stinger (Sean Bean), an old friend of Cane, who gave up his wings many years ago in order to help Cane agrees to help Jupiter. However, a gang of hunters manage to track Jupiter down and kidnap her and take her to Kalique. She informs Jupiter, that she’s a reincarnation of her, Balem and Titus’s mother and that Jupiter must claim the Earth as her own in accordance with her will.

    Cane, assisted by Aegis, an alien police force, take Jupiter to mankind’s original home in order for her to claim her birth right. It very soon becomes apparent however, that Titus has something in mind that is far from his mothers wishes.

  • Jupiter Ascending is the latest sci-fi film from The Wachowski’s, known for the Matrix Trilogy, starring Mila Kunis (Ted) and Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher). It follows Jupiter a seemingly normal woman, whose life is turned upside down when a genetically engineered warrior comes to earth to keep her safe from a ruthless son from a powerful family, who has targeted Jupiter.

    The Wachowski’s have never shied away from complex and unusual stories and they clearly love sci-fi, with the special effects that comes with it. Jupiter Ascending is visually stunning, especially in IMAX 3D (although the 3D is completely pointless), the over elaborate look of the characters and the beautiful futuristic cities are on point, but the problem is, there’s nothing more to the film other than the look.

    The story is all over the place and is quite confusing, you’re expected to understand whats happening, before they actually tell you what’s happening. Jupiter Ascending is clearly very heavily influenced by several…
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  • Terry Gilliam cameos as a self-consciously eccentric bureaucrat, which is only fitting since Jupiter Ascending owes quite an amount to Gilliam’s Brazil as well as David Lynch’s doomed mounting of Dune. The Wachowskis’ space epic is undeniably full of creativity and imagination but, even if graded on a very accommodating curve, Jupiter Ascending would still be a massive disappointment for their fans and for fans of the genre.

    Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is the film’s Cinderella – born without a country, a home, or a father, yet destined for great things and fated to find the one true love of her life. Earning her keep by cleaning toilets, she discovers that she shares the same exact genetic identity that entitles her to be queen of the universe. This does not sit well with the three heirs of the matriarch with whom Jupiter shares her DNA. The siblings’ attempts to hold onto their estates put Jupiter’s life in danger. Thankfully, she has the half-man, half-wolf Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) to protect and save her.

    Where to even begin in unpacking this mess? The Wachowskis possess an immense talent for building new worlds, and Jupiter Ascending is difficult to deny from a technical perspective. Space battles, with spacecrafts mutating in mid-air, are well-choreographed and keep the eyes well-occupied. The CGI-generated kingdoms are impressive to behold and contain within them dense details. Costume designer Kym Barrett clearly indulged the extreme corners of her creativity – Jupiter’s wedding gown alone is an intricately designed confection worthy of a Ziegfeld Girl.

    For all its meticulous grandiosity, there is a nagging emptiness to the film. Even the action set pieces start to blur and bore. There is no sense of exhilaration or wonder. One scene with Jupiter flying in the air with Caine recalls the similar moment in 1978’s Superman. That film’s visual effects would seem positively archaic in comparison to Jupiter Ascending’s visual extravaganza, but it roused your heart and astonished the mind. It does not help that Jupiter is such a bland character. It is not part of Kunis’ makeup to play such a confused and helpless damsel in distress, and she flounders here. Badly.

    It should be said, however, that a certain talent is required to deliver dialogue this terrible without combusting from the unimaginable depths of its atrocity. To wit: the lowly Caine attempts to curtail their romance by likening himself to a dog. “I love dogs, I’ve always loved dogs,” Jupiter swoons. When Kunis isn’t spouting such howlers, she’s listening to every other character recite the most laboriously expository dialogue.

    Eddie Redmayne, as the eldest heir, understands that seriousness – hell, even plain acting – is not part of Jupiter Ascending’s brief and responds with a performance that manages to be all shades of bipolar camp lunacy. As for the rest of the supporting cast, they make do with the little they are given.

    As for the Wachowskis, it’s becoming less and less certain that they’ll regain their mojo. They certainly do not lack for ambition, but they need more substance in their spectacles to support their overreachings. Also recommended: someone to prevent them from going too far down the rabbit hole of their visual impulses.

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  • Once upon a time The Wachowskis were two of the most promising film-makers on the planet. This was of course right after the release of The Matrix, a film that is to this day considered one of the benchmark movies of the Sci-Fi genre. However, The Wachowskis have failed to build on from the success of The Matrix and none of their films since then have managed to match the quality and ingenuity of The Matrix. Jupiter Ascending is their latest venture, their first film after 2012’s Cloud Atlas.

    Jupiter Ascending follows the story of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a girl who finds out about her destiny as a heiress of intergalactic nobility and with the help of a genetically engineered ex-military hunter (Tatum) must fight to protect the inhabitants of Earth from an ancient and destructive industry. The film is both written and directed by The Wachowskis and stars; Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Douglas Booth and Eddie Redmayne. Unfortunately however, Jupiter Ascending is yet another muddled misfire for the sibling duo and while it has many redeeming qualities, the film fails to come together as a whole.

    For one thing, the writing is terrible, the story is which is a mishmash of Star Wars and Cinderella is incoherent and dull. While the editing can be blamed for the incoherence there are no excuses for the tedious screenplay which is filled with laughable dialogue. The performances with the exception of Eddie Redmayne are largely passable. Mila Kunis is pretty okay, Channing Tatum is not too bad either, despite the rather silly outlook of his character, Sean Bean does his best with the minimal screen-time he is provided with, Eddie Redmayne on the other hand, hot off his Oscar win for The Theory of Everything is downright awful as the villain, Balem Abrasax. Redmayne’s hammy, over-the-top turn as Abrasax is probably one of the worst things about the movie. Expect him to get a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actor next year. One of the strong points of the Wachowskis’s film-making is their great ability to craft entire worlds, this is evident from all their previous films and is the case here as well. The Wachowskis provide us with striking visuals and the wonderfully crafted production design makes this movie watchable to a great extent but the movie fails in just about every other department.

    All in all, Jupiter Ascending is dismal display by The Wachowskis who are yet to find their muse after The Matrix. The movie is heavily let down by bad writing, poor editing and a scenery chewing performance from Eddie Redmayne. The visual effects are nice but that’s about the only good thing about this movie.

    Final Score: 2.7/10

    -Khalid Rafi

  • It can be difficult for people from underdeveloped worlds to hear that their planet is not the only inhabited planet.

    In terms of views and images, “Jupiter Ascending” is a spectacle with an impressive space footage, sometimes rousing action sequences and titillating extraterrestrial fantasies. But just as a book of Jack Vance, it really doesn’t make any sense in the beginning. The difference is that while reading that book of Vance, the intended message becomes clear to you. With “Jupiter Ascending” it’s still fairly muddled and incomprehensible in the end and you seem to sink into hotchpotch of futuristic ideas. An epic work that throws together different aspects from other SF classics such as “Flash Gordon”, “Star Wars” and “Battlestar Galactica”. The added Cinderella fairytale with someone living on earth whose DNA equals that of some space queen, makes it complete.

    Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is of Russian descent and has to get up early every day to help her mother clean up rich people houses. Every day she plunges the toilet brush in dirty toilets, without realizing that she has identical genes as the deceased matriarch of the house of Abrasax and in that way she’s the owner of planet Earth. The house of Abrasax is an alien royal family that owns several planets. These planets serve merely to be harvested so they can produce a youth serum. The remaining heirs Balem (Eddie Redmayne) Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) and Titus (Douglas Booth) only benefit from the disappearance of this earthling. And that’s when Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) shows up. Caine, a former soldier, has been instructed to protect Jupiter.

    The Wachowskis not only experienced a physical (at least one of the two) transformation, but there’s also something missing when it comes to creativity because they seem to be unable to match the masterful and groundbreaking “The Matrix”. Visually “Jupiter Ascending” is a masterpiece, but the story is a messy and chaotic whole. The release of the movie was delayed because of certain deficiencies and they still needed to adjust the visual character of the film. That wasn’t a good omen in the first place. Especially the characters without depth, the ridiculous dialogues and a forced romantic story make this film pretty weak. I admit that the rescue operation at the beginning of the film in which Caine prevents Jupiter being abducted by alien “Keepers”, while flying around on his jet-like roller skates, was a breathtaking part that lasted for ages. The flashy chase between the buildings is intense, exciting and masterfully portrayed. But that wasn’t the last time he had to save her. The film seems like an endless rescue operation. And after a while those special skates aren’t that special anymore.

    The weakest point of this movie are the characters. Mila Kunis is better than expected but unfortunately it feels as if she’s running around the whole movie screaming out loud, while showcasing her “looks”. Channing has a tough appearance, but soon gets bogged down in an uninspired parody of himself, struggling with his own feelings. The duo eventually ends up as a kind of “Danny and Sandy in space” couple. A faint love story about two people from two different space systems. The Abrasax family is also a mishmash that didn’t really convince. Tuppence Middleton plays no significant role at all. And Redmayne surprised me completely (after I’ve seen him shine in “The theory of everything”) as the wily and cruel Balem who sounded fairly menacing with that whispering voice. Until he starts shouting out of anger and frustrations in a fit. I spontaneously started to chuckle. The only two actors who were convincing were Sean Bean and Douglas Booth. And let’s not forget the Russian family sitting together at the dining table. These scenes achieved the highest grade of humorous content.

    Do you want to be lead away through the infinite universe where you’ll experience one surprise after another and become completely bewildered by the brilliant computer graphics (and as I have been told the 3D version is unprecedented) ? Well, then you have to see this epic space story, full of strange creatures, aliens and exotic places. You also like some romantic posturing and a happy ending ? Than you shouldn’t miss it either. But are you also wishing for a fascinating story filled with interesting characters, then this will be a huge disappointment. A better alternative is “Guardians of the Galaxy” where the mix of all these ingredients doesn’t create a bitter aftertaste !

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  • Rating: ☆☆ out of 4)

    This film is not recommended.

    In brief: Mind-blowing visuals and a mind-numbing plot.

    GRADE: C

    It doesn’t take very long for the sci-fi action fantasy film, Jupiter Ascending, to descend into a muddled mess of a movie. With its eye-popping visuals that are mind-blowing to its mind-numbing script that is incoherent and more convoluted than needed, the film (as conceived by the team of writer / directors known as The Wachowskis, Andy and Lana of Matrix’s fame) disappoints its intended audience.

    Overwhelming is the best word to describe this movie-going experience. Excessive is another. Perhaps, the term overkill is even better. The set design and CGI work is spectacular. The Waschowskis are experts are visceral joy and they create worlds that are imaginative and highly detailed. But their film is in vast need of rewrites. The script has characters change alliances without any provocation and they are introduced and then suddenly disappear, only to return later as mere plot devices to move the action along. It just never makes any sense. They are one-dimensional beings caught in a three-dimensional universe.

    The belabored plot involves cosmic royalty, human egg harvesting, youth serums, and inter-galactic dominance. On another planet, all eyes are on the look-out for a genetic queen who can somehow threatens their existence. Back on Earth, we meet the chosen one, our heroine, Jupiter Jones, played by Mila Kunis. A woman of strong Russian stock and a helluva maid, Jupiter trudges through her day cleaning toilets and begrudgingly dreaming about a better life, kinda like Cinderella without the depth. That is, until one day she is rescued by a tall strapping alien soldier named Caine Wise (who isn’t), played by Channing Tatum, who literally sweeps her off her feet with his anti-gravitational boots. (These boots were made for flying!)

    Caine is half-human, half canine, and Mr. Tatum, at least, gets it half right, delivering a dog of a performance. Apparently, Jupiter, though poor, was a Cosmic Queen in her former life and owns Earth, which is a huge dowry for any would-be bride and enough to make her a target for any alien suitor. Ms. Kunis’ acting can’t even convince us she is human let alone royalty. Both actors defy zero gravity and have zero chemistry to boot.

    The action sequences are directed with style and a Saturday matinee peril mindset. All of the supporting actors involved have done better work. Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and especially Eddie Redmayne as the evil Balem, who recites his lines in a low whisper that is more inaudible than menacing. All are wasting their talents in this dud.

    Jupiter Ascending is a letdown, a film with some visual wonder to fixate upon as it wanders its parallel universes in search of a logical and compelling story to match its grandiose thinking. (Kudos to John Toll’s photography and Hugh Bateup’s impressive production design.) Alas, the film settles somewhere between ordinary (without the extra added) and just plain dull.

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