By Nico Beland
Movie Review: C (2 ½ stars)
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
The Wachowskis (The Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta, Speed Racer) return with their latest sci-fi adventure full of eye candy, Jupiter Ascending. To best describe this film is to ask this question, what do you get when you put The Matrix, Star Wars, and Guardians of the Galaxy, with a splash of Star Trek into a blender? Well, you pretty much get Jupiter Ascending, a visually impressive thrill ride with cool special effects, action, and sexy young protagonists, with pretty much nothing else.
The story is not fleshed out very well and it’s a shame since the Wachowskis were great at setting up interesting premises with The Matrix and some scenes from The Matrix Reloaded, but then they started to go downhill with their storytelling with The Matrix Revolutions and Speed Racer. The plot for this movie isn’t exactly helping them tell something good again because we’ve seen these plot elements before in other sci-fi movies, some of which came out last year in 2014.
The film is about a young woman in Chicago named Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis-Family Guy, Ted, Oz: The Great and Powerful), who has an extremely stressful life, living with her Italian family (sounds like my mother!), she gets woken up by her aunt every morning to make coffee and she has a job as a toilet cleaner, she really hates her life, sounds like Meg Griffin, her character from Family Guy, doesn’t it? Until she is visited by a genetically engineered ex-military hunter from outer space named Caine (Channing Tatum-21 Jump Street, Magic Mike, The Lego Movie), armed with a space gun and hover boots (Sounds like Star-Lord doesn’t it?) who takes her away from Earth and sends her to outer space where she is apparently part of a royal space family, basically she’s the Princess Leia of this movie.
Jupiter must make a decision that could change time and space forever, go back home as a house cleaner or rule the universe as a queen. Unfortunately that decision must wait as there is an evil ruler of lizard-like beings that resemble the aliens from Zathura known as Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne-My Week With Marilyn, Les Miserables, The Theory of Everything), who wants Jupiter to send over Earth’s fate to him, so he can rule the world.
So Jupiter, Caine, and a group of galactic hunters must stop Balem before the Earth becomes his. Also, there’s a secondary antagonist in the form of a space prince who wants Jupiter to be his wife and a bounty hunter who resembles Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy who wants to take out Caine.
As you can tell, the film has a pretty rough time developing all of these characters, but compared to an awful movie I reviewed today, Jupiter Ascending definitely had better characters, despite the fact not many of them being developed that well, except for Tatum, Kunis, and Redmayne.
Overall, Jupiter Ascending is definitely an ambitious project, very heavy on special effect light shows but light on story and substance. Reminds me a lot of my thoughts on the Wachowskis’ Speed Racer movie from 2008, visually colorful but very lacking in story and characters, however between the two this movie is better than that CGI vomit.
Besides the visual effects, Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis’ performance are decent, nothing Oscar worthy but probably nothing that’ll cause them to become Razzie contenders. Eddie Redmayne on the other hand is amusing to watch because he really doesn’t belong in this movie, his voice is quiet and not very intimidating for a villain and when he goes over the top it becomes funny, I felt someone like Benedict Cumberbatch or Hugo Weaving would fit the role better.
However much like The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, Jupiter Ascending’s plot does not do a very good job explaining things and thus leaving many plot holes unexplained and feels rather empty. But I’m distracted by the visuals to notice them, kind of reminds me of when I’m watching a Transformers movie.
If you’re a fan of the Wachowskis’ previous work, you’ll probably find the visuals appealing or maybe the concept as well. But if you, like me want more story and substance to go with the visuals and actors, I’d recommend going back to the first Matrix.