Directors: Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski (as The Wachowskis)
Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne
*Slight spoilers in this review*
This film had a $176 million dollar budget and didn’t make its money back — and certainly for a good reason. The Wachowskis put more work into the special effects rather than constructing a cohesive and fulfilling plot. The movie’s plot is outrageous. It follows Jupiter (Mila Kunis), a girl who lives in Chicago scrubbing toilets and cleaning homes, who is attacked by aliens during her visit to the gynecologist and saved by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered soldier that is a half-human and half-canine-hybrid. She finds out that she is the reincarnation of the matriarch of the House of Abrasax (a powerful alien dynasty), thereby making her Earth’s rightful owner. Once the film finally makes it to space, it becomes an interfamilial political space drama about who actually owns the Earth. Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth), who are all children of the dead matriarch, argue over who owns the land. This plot is all over the place and the dialogue is laughable. There were some lines that were so cheesy that I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at their excessively scripted nature.
The acting was sub-par, but mostly due to the hollow script and the wooden, uninteresting and underdeveloped characters. I think the most surprising performance came from Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne. He was over-the-top to a ridiculous extent and spoke in an extremely wacky whisper for the whole movie. It was completely unnecessary. I had seen The Theory of Everything a day before seeing this movie, so it was really distracting to see him acting so poorly. Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum work with what they have, which is almost nothing. Their on-screen romance is so forced that it’s laugh-out-loud terrible whenever the film tries to shove it down our throats. Everyone seems miscast, but again, the script is probably to blame. Sean Bean is a supporting character that is an old comrade of Caine’s. Speaking of Sean Bean, we put a timer on from the moment he appeared on screen to see how long he would last. This movie couldn’t even get killing off Sean Bean right.
The film had enormous potential. The Wachowskis have a knack for making visual sci-fi spectacles and exquisite futuristic and alien worlds. However, the problem is usually the screenplay, as was the case here. If this film had a good story (coupled with the already amazing visuals) then it would have worth watching. The score by Michael Giacchino was great, but felt like it didn’t fit the movie because I wasn’t invested in the ongoing events. The music was more epic than the action sequences were and was distracting at times.
The Wachowskis created The Matrix and it’s sad to see that they seem to be a one hit wonder for the most part. The sequels were nowhere near the quality of the first film. Cloud Atlas was enjoyable, but definitely not up there with The Matrix. Should I have gone in to this movie expecting The Wachowskis to redeem themselves? Probably not.
Jupiter Ascending may be the WORST work that the Wachowkis have put out. This film reminds me of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in some ways. The film being more about space politics than anything else and a movie that looked visually great, but had a dearth of plot. At least The Phantom Menace had those epic Darth Maul fights to keep me from falling asleep. This film was trying its best to act as Nyquil.