SYNOPSIS: From the streets of Chicago to the far-flung galaxies whirling through space, “Jupiter Ascending” tells the story of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who was born under a night sky, with signs predicting 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), 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 next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
Fortunately in the world of sci-fi movie-making, the Wachowskis are routinely applauded for their ambitions, with no shortage of adrenaline-packed set pieces and intergalactic sceneries that look like they belong in a Discover channel special. And given their track record it’s no surprise that this movie is crammed with plot turns and eye-bulging visuals, including lavishly detailed sets and costumes. Yet it’s quite startling how inattentive they can be to certain filmmaking essentials, like attention to the character’s characteristics and details. For instance there are bulgy-eyed E. T.-like critters that pop up in just about every action scene, but are nothing resembling creative thinking or thinking outside the box. They simply look like bobble-headed naked creatures we’ve all seen in magazines stories related to “area 51” or abduction stories.
The main villain, played by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, 2014) is horrible to look at on screen and is much more suited for playing a creature of the night, like Dracula, etc. I think the Wachowskis’ intent was to have him exude mysterious, but aristocratic tendencies, but instead he came across more like a nocturnal creature that is repulsive at best. To add to the confusion of the plot, they presented multiple villains as though the wickedness of the movie could have benefited from such turmoil. Certainly, I believe if the central bad guy had been a little more suave, then his supposed aristocratic profile would have been a little more believable.
The visuals are quite dazzling and there is no question that they are good at making entire worlds, but, whether distracted by the big stuff or bored by the small, in recent times, they seem to have a tougher time making movies that have real substance, like The Matrix I. Consequently, a clear indication in their decent from being at the top of their game came in the form of the follow-ups to the original Matrix and then the slide continued with the release of the 2008 movie “Speed Racer” and 2012’s “Cloud Atlas.”
So, once again I enjoyed this movie more than the last two flicks, which says to me that maybe the Wachowskis are making moves in the right direction, artistically speaking, but are executing in slow motion. In other words, we’ll probably have to wait for a few more blunders on their part before we can expect another game changer from them, like The Matrix.
Unfortunately, there is very little here to defend in Jupiter Ascending, it is a sci-fi saga that’s convoluted and silly and down-right a wasted opportunity for the Wachowskis, but it did have a few exciting and enthralling action scenes with some creative thinking behind it (the jet boots for instance). Nevertheless, I believe most will find the story somewhat incomprehensible and not worth going to the theaters to watch. Three out of five stars is my way of being generous here
By Movi-Man Stan
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