Sci fi movies have come a long way in the industry with technical advances being their most notorious enhancements as years go by. The Wachowskis are no strangers to the genre, as their most successful film to date confirms it (aka The Matrix). Jupiter Ascending, as the latest installment from the dynamic duo, raised some expectancy since it’s unveiling. Perhaps it was the fact that a female protagonist would take the lead in a space opera or that recalling what the Wachowskis once created in this field could mean good news. Now, coming back to real life, what we get to see in the theatre is everything but good news as Jupiter Ascending, as a whole, acts as nothing but a terrible fusion of Matrix and Star Wars with an extremely cheesy love story set in space and some utterly inconsistent acting.
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis, The Black Swan) is a girl that cleans toilets for a living (although she looks quite tidy to believe it) along her Russian family and totally hates the life that has been bestowed upon her. Suddenly, she notices some weird activity in the house that turn out to be aliens. As these creatures try to kidnap her for reasons that are unknown by her, a space ranger named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher) comes in to rescue her and take her to safety on a planet where she learns that there’s a vast number of life forms outside home and that The Abrasax family is the most powerful dynasty in the universe and, hence, owns most of the planets in the universe, including Earth. What is most shocking for Jupiter, regardless, is knowing that she is actually the current descendant of the last formal owner of the Earth, therefore, the real heir in line. Balem (Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth), who are the current children of The Abrasax House, can’t stand that fate and are willing to kill her, no matter the cost.
During the first 20 minutes of the film it’s actually difficult to keep a pace with the screenplay, as the story fluctuates from place to place way a lot resulting in many confusing points to the viewer that don’t make any sense until later on. Likewise, during the moments when the story starts having an interesting approach, it quickly deteriorates one way or another. In addition, most of the time the story diverts from the action sequences to focus on one of the cheesiest, senseless romances I have seen in the last years. Jupiter is so desperate for love that one can’t help laughing at her flirting skills, and even more at how she actually succeeds.
It was good to know that at least the movie was quite a sight for sore eyes since the visual effects are sincerely impressive. Even if they might remind some of Star Wars stuff, it’s definitely the one thing the Wachowskis did right with Jupiter Ascending. All the special effects are not overwhelming, in fact, they are quite pleasant to watch and it pays tribute very well to the improvements of science fiction in movies. They are quite good on their own, however, the scrip relies a little too much on them at times that it definitely doesn’t help the story either.
Special mention to the totally inconsistent acting, as well. Mila Kunis has its good times here and there but as quickly as she has them is the way she loses them, especially in the moments of great tense, as she seems to “relax” very easily. Channing Tatum doesn’t really offer anything to the flick. He has all the time this cold attitude and, even if that is kind of justified in his background story, he is far from memorable. Finally, there are villains that the fans love to hate but the one chosen for this movie will definitely not fit that description. Balem has many quotes that imply he has a very dark heart but every time he appears on the screen it’s just impossible to take him seriously. It’s just a relief that Eddie Redmayne will not have less fans because of this after witnessing his immense talent in The Theory of Everything.
Jupiter Ascending is quite a setback for the Wachowski brothers in almost every sense of the word. Their latest attempt at the sci fi genre is not exactly delivering good results due to the incoherent oscillations in the story that make it hard to understand at the beginning and a little boring at the end. The special effects might be the only redeemable element in this whole space odyssey. If I had to describe this movie in one sentence it would be: an extremely cheesy television soap opera brought to space, since it really doesn’t offer anything else worth watching.
Rating: 4/10 stars