There were some high expectations from Jupiter Ascending. For one it is a huge sci fi epic,two it was delayed by half a year to make the effects better and three it’s by the people who brought us The Matrix and Speed Racer!
Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones, a girl 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 other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum) 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
You will discover the more you read this review that Jupiter Ascending is a mixed bag. I love both Sci-Fi and epic movies so Jupiter Ascending should tick all my boxes but it fails as much as it succeeds. Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski had their heart in the right place but I think that passion overwhelmed their vision for this film.
The film involves a galactic royal family of two brothers and a sister with a penchant for living beyond their years who trade planets like we trade stocks. After Kunis’ Jupiter Jones is rescued by Tatum’s Caine on Earth she becomes involved in this family in a big way that could upset the balance and status quo. Each of the three siblings have their own master plan to influence Jones and make her part of their family with Cain trying to keep and up and leaping from one rescue to another. To say more of the story would potentially spoil the fun of finding out all the over the top and ridiculous plot points.
The plot itself seems to have been written by a seven year old who has just watched The Phantom Menace and decided to write his own story. “Lets have a princess, and a hero who can fly, no wait he has flying boots, but he used to be able to fly and there are lizard men, no wait lizard men with wings, and there will be a royal alien family who are evil or maybe good or both. Oh we can add crop circles and the grey aliens and let’s add bees. Hmmmm ok can we also add werewolves and vampires?”
That all sounds messy and cool in the same breath but impossible to pull off without looking a bit silly. There are scenes in the movie that are supposed to be serious but come off as just plain funny. This may be down to the one tone acting from both Kunis and Tatum which is not an insult but more like a theme for the movie. There seems to be no time for serious moments as the plot races so fast and wide that you don’t have any time to really make an impact.
Jupiter Ascending‘s cast are pretty good in their own right but here are not very well utilised apart from Sean Bean who seems to be having the most fun. Tatum is trying to play it straight but comes across as emotionless which, to be fair, is keeping in line with his character’s background. Kunis, however, cannot use the same excuse unless, during her years spent cleaning bathrooms she somehow manage to flush her emotions down the toilet. In the film I would expect some more enthusiasm from a character taken from a life of nothing to the vastness of space and yet she hardly bats an eyelid.The other notable cast member is Eddie Redmayne as one of the brothers who is over acting so much that if you look closely you can see the bite marks in the scenery after he finishes his lines.
The visuals for the most part are amazing with the larger spaceships resembling majestic galactic battleships crossed with the Titanic. This must have been where the extra time and money was spent on the film because it shows. There also some interesting design choices to be found on the ships themselves such as parts of the ships are not actually attached but rather drift close to each other.
The other areas of the special effects are the flying scenes but in a world where we have Iron Man or the Man of Steel flying there should be no excuse not to reach those heights. Jupiter Ascending lets itself down by using the cheat of doing most of the flying scenes at night and slightly blurred which is a shame as it clearly shows in contrast to the outer space shots.
The music by Michael Giacchino, who has worked with the directors before on Speed Racer, but has also scored the new Star Trek films . For me the music was the winner of this film. There are similar themes to Star Trek but also shades of Phantom Menace with choirs mixed in with some heavy orchestral scores.
Jupiter Ascending is a film I can’t recommend to see at the cinema unless you know what you are getting which is something that could be seen as a cult movie in years to come (Flash Gordon comes to mind). I mean I love Buckaroo Banzai so what do I know? If you go in with low expectations and want to spend a silly, fun and stunningly visual popcorn filled two hours then go for it. If you want the next best hope for Sci Fi then maybe think twice.