Friday, February 27, 2015

Jupiter Ascending Review

The Wachoswkis are known for some outstanding  films and a few bombs. The Matrix Trilogy is an example of great movie, a mediocre movie, and a dumb movie (in that order, in fact.) I really loved their work in Cloud Atlas, and I'm a fan of V for Vendetta. The trailer for their latest movie, Jupiter Ascending (2015), looked as riveting as any of their other works, but ended up being surprisingly dull and uninteresting.
 Jupiter Jones was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter (Mila Kunis) dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people's houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), 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 the next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos. But the children of House Abrasax, the most powerful of the alien dynasties, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth), quarrel over the same inheritance and seek out Jupiter to help meet their own agendas.
I love a good sci-fi flick as much as the next geek. Good science fiction makes commentary on contemporary issues in a unique, metaphorical way. One could argue that looking at how our science fiction stories have changed over the years is just as telling of our history and social issues than history books are. Even a sci-fi/fantasy romp that intends to tell an action packed story rather than critique contemporary society is fun from time to time; the original Star Wars trilogy for example. I am truly not sure which end of the spectrum Jupiter Ascending was aiming for. It mostly revolves around the action, even if the context for said action is a bit nebulous. It seem to try to say something about indulgence and consumption, but never draws a thematic conclusion. In fact, the resource everyone is seeking is developed to be a precious commodity but seems to be a sustainable industry, questionable as it may be. Thematically, Jupiter Ascending simply doesn't seem to know where it is or where it's going.
The story seems haphazardly stuck together. There's lots of sci-fi stuff happening and I wasn't able to discern a reason for a lot of it. At its most basic elements, the story is fairly straightforward, but there's so much extra stuff going on peripherally to the main storyline that it becomes confusing and hard to follow. A lot of time is spent on subplot devices that have little or no effect on the bigger story. It ends up being sci-fi for the sake of being sci-fi, but it's a poorly written and developed sci-fi to the point that it resembles the campy old Flash Gordon movies.
I wasn't impressed with the cast either. The only other movie I've seen Mila Kunis in was Oz The Great and Powerful, and that was pretty bad, too. I've really liked Channing Tatum in most of his movies, but after seeing Jupiter Ascending, I'm convinced he's just good at playing Channing Tatum rather than being a decent character actor. I was most disappointed in Eddie Redmayne. He was up for an Oscar for Best Actor for his incredible performance in The Theory of Everything, but here it's as if all his acting skills fell out before they started shooting. He is a skilled actor, but doesn't seem cut out for action roles, or maybe he's just not good at playing a villain. I want to say that overall everyone just had poor material to work with, but most everyone really was bad in this movie.
Jupiter Ascending was not what I had hoped it would be. The story was a weak and befuddled narrative, the characters were shallow and uninteresting, the acting was bad, and the theme was confusing. I know The Wachoswkis and most of the cast can do better than this; and that made the movie all the more disappointing. The special effects were fantastic, and most fight scenes were not bad, but that's about where the good qualities of the movie end. It's sci-fi for the sake of sci-fi. Overall, I cannot recommend seeing Jupiter Ascending. The only way you'd enjoy it is if you're looking for a senseless action movie that doesn't require any thought on your end and if you enjoy special effects more than story or characters. If that's the case, I'd still wait until you can rent it. It's not worth the cost of a movie ticket.

What was a movie that you were particularly disappointed in? Comment below and tell me why!

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