Monday, February 9, 2015


There are two methods to delivering a science fiction move. The first method obeys the laws of science and physics; not the most exciting thing to see but it does offer a lot of credibility. The second method throws those laws out the window in favor of exciting aesthetics. Both methods can work, and the Wachowski Siblings’ newest film, JUPITER ASCENDING, embraces the method of anything goes. 

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is an immigrant scratching out a living scrubbing toilets. When she is rescued from an alien abduction by a genetically engineered space-hunter named Caine (Channing Tatum), she discovers that she is a genetic re-incarnation of a long-dead interstellar queen…a queen whose offspring, including Balem (Eddie Redmayne), seek to use the Earth for horrific purposes. 

JUPITER ASCENDING fully embraces the sci-fi genre and throws everything but the space-sink into the mix; spaceships, space-battles, wormholes, weird alien species, ray-guns, rocket-boots, space-suits, and greedy villains. All of this is a stage for the classic story of a simple person discovering their greater destiny. But this space-flight loses altitude in a hurry thanks to the structure of the storytelling. The film falls into repetition by inserting an action/chase sequence followed by an endless scene of someone over-explaining the galactic situation Jupiter is in; mouthfuls upon mouthfuls of gobbly-gook concerning planets and families and aliens and interstellar history which ultimately means nothing to the viewer. This on-screen torture is then interrupted by bad-guys looking to take possession of Jupiter and a chase-scene…which only serves a purpose of getting characters from one place to another to be followed by another lecture. It’s deadly redundant and ultimately boring…and makes what should have been a simple plot very convoluted and impossible to follow. 

The Wachowski siblings, Lana and Andy, have their film blessed with some stunning visuals and brilliant production design involving space-ships and planets, but it winds up just being pretty wrapping paper over junk as the surroundings are never used to their potential. The many action sequences are filmed with way too much goddamn shaky-cam; stripping the film of any sense of geography or coherence. Characters exist in the film just to bounce around from place and are as useless as the set dressings. 

Mila Kunis does a fair job with the little that she is given to work with, but spends most of her time screaming as she gets thrown off buildings and hanging on for dear life on top of flying ships. Channing Tatum is his usual doorknob-face while Sean Bean turns in a decent role. The entire film is ruined by Eddie Redmayne, who spends 90% of his time in an un-hearable whisper, and the rest in over-the-top yelling. How do we know he’s a bad guy? Oh he yells real loud. 

By the time all the smoke clears and you begin to make sense of the plot, you suddenly realize that all the chasing and running from the bad guys is meaningless, as Jupiter’s role in the film really didn’t matter and things could have proceeded just fine without her; a terrible plot-hole in the seriously flawed script. Things get worse when the realization sinks in that the bad guys’ nefarious plot involving Earth, which should have been horrific, is actually laughable and ridiculous. There’s also a character moment right before the credits roll which will have the audience laughing their asses off in a bad way for how stupid-looking it is…which is actually a fitting end to a flawed, silly, and terrible movie. 


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