Jupiter Ascending – Review

By Ari Dassa

Oh, Wachowskis, how high you aim and how close you came to achieving something titanic.
As is, Jupiter Ascending is a fun midnight movie, like a crazy Roger Corman production with a mega budget and some next level action and VFX.
I enjoyed the ride for the most part, flaws and all.
What’s frustrating about the film is that the potential for a sci-fi classic is RIGHT THERE.
But a few key problems keep it from soaring to that level. It goes wrong in places where a film like The Fifth Element succeeds.
The main issue is Mila Kunis and her character Jupiter, the lead of the film.
Mila Kunis Jupiter Ascending
Mila is cute and gives an okay performance, but I think the Wachowskis made a casting error here, along with a mistake in how the character is presented.
The film is sort of a sci-fi Cinderella and Wizard of Oz type story.
The problems is Jupiter is a late 20’s/early 30’s woman.
To me, Jupiter could have been a late teenager and her arc could have been a coming-of-age story, a girl who becomes a woman and starts to understand the weight of responsibility in the adult world.
She also could have had some edge or spunk to her, a sense of humor that made her fun to be around.
Jupiter Ascending Cinderella
The character of Jupiter, as presented, is kind of dull.
She has no sense of awe or wonder at the scope of the universe presented to her. If she was a teenager who goes from innocence to maturity, and falls in love with the badass wolf-man who flies around on his gravity boots. It would be more romantic and charming, and the audience would like Tatum’s character a bit more.
Channing Tatum
I mean he’s awesome in the movie, but there’s not much chemistry between him and Kunis, so the romance, if one could even call it that, feels forced.
If an 18-year-old Milla Jovovich was in this movie as Jupiter, we would have a much better film.
The audience would love Jupiter. I liked Jupiter, but that’s not enough.
Personally, I would have prefered her to be more like Leeloo in The Fifth Element, at the very least.
The other issue is that Jupiter Ascending has 3 villains and one of them, Titus (Douglas Booth), is nowhere near as fun or interesting as the other two characters – Kalique (Tuppence Middleton, who is super great in a short amount of time) and Balem (Eddie Redmayne, who does an amazing Gary Oldman “Zorg” type performance, but with a more sinister whisper to his dialogue).
I loved Titus’s introduction – he’s having this zero-g orgy on his ship, it’s hilarious and brilliant – but he goes downhill after that and the 2nd act drags like crazy because of it. His whole wedding plan is a bore, and I kept wishing we had more time with either Kalique or Balem and his dinosaur henchmen instead.
But here’s why Jupiter Ascending still works.
It’s wild and imaginative and crazy. The film has space invader aliens, bounty hunter shoot-outs, a human/mouse who’s a lawyer (I think), Tatum fighting a goddamn flying dinosaur/lizard thing, a mad 6 or 7 minute homage to Brazil (maybe the best scene in the film, just perfect), starship pilots with Elephant noses, GORGEOUS production design and immensely detailed worlds and environments, and a chase sequence in Chicago between said alien invaders vs. Tatum on his flying gravity boots that has to go down as one of the most spectacular action/VFX sequences ever constructed.
Jupiter Ascending Alien
That one sceneā€¦..is so good it actually does a bit of a disservice to the rest of the film, because there’s no way the rest of the action could top it. But it’s eye-popping. Just insanely well orchestrated action.
Channing Tatum Mila Kunis
So all in all, I’d say it’s a cool, fun movie.
It’s not the groundbreaking pop-art aesthetic explosion of Speed Racer or anywhere near the first Matrix or Bound (their three classics), but I’ll revisit this more often than Cloud Atlas, a film I liked a lot and admire, but don’t love, and it’s way more inspired and entertaining than Matrix Revolutions was.
It coulda been a contender though.
Still, good stuff overall. I’d hate for this to be their last big Hollywood movie, but if it is, at least they went out trying to hit a grand slam.

MPAA rating: PG-13 for some violence, sequences of sci-fi action, some suggestive content and partial nudity
Running time: 2 hours, 7 minutes
Written and directed by the Wachowskis; director of photography, John Toll; edited by Alexander Berner; music by Michael Giacchino; production design by Hugh Bateup; costumes by Kym Barrett; visual effects by Dan Glass; produced by the Wachowskis and Grant Hill; released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Starring: Channing Tatum (Caine Wise), Mila Kunis (Jupiter Jones), Sean Bean (Stinger Apini), Eddie Redmayne (Balem Abrasax), Douglas Booth (Titus Abrasax) and Tuppence Middleton (Kalique Abrasax).

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