Film Review: “Jupiter Ascending”

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Jupiter Ascending, 2015

dir. Andy and Lana Wachowski
★★★☆☆

Believe me when I say: I am a huge Wachowski fan. I am, truly. I even likedSpeed Racer. But even I had trouble staying awake through this – unlike the lady sitting next to me in the cinema, who actually did fall asleep and snored during the film.  The story is fairly interesting, filled with galactic politics and backstabbing leaders of state, which is always fun, I think, and to be fair, those were the most interesting parts. It was when we got to Jupiter (Mila Kunis) and Caine (Channing Tatum), that the story got a bit difficult to bear.

The basic plot it: millennia ago, the matriarch of the most powerful family in the universe, the Abrasax family, was murdered, and appeared reincarnated as baby Jupiter. This reincarnation would give her all the power to the family business (which is harvesting humans in order to get their essence? or something? which Universe-folk use to increase their life-span), so the Abrasax children, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Titus (Douglas Booth), and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), each want to use her to get all the planets the family owns for themselves. That is fine. It’s not a ridiculously complicated plot, and I do applaud their originality, but the thing is: all throughout the film, I was more interested in learning more about these politics, and this family, and how this Universe works. However, more than half of the story was spent following the eponymous character, Jupiter, who is the daughter of a Russian immigrant, and works in her family cleaning business. She hates her life, but doesn’t really have the drive to do anything about it. And when the Abrasaxes send their minions to capture her, she suddenly finds herself in the middle of this huge conspiracy plot. One of the hired minions is Caine, who after finding out who she really is, looks to save her from the family. And during all the running and fighting and shooting and flying, of course Jupiter and Caine fall in love, even though there is no chemistry between Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum (who is the top billed actor in this even though a wooden board would have been more charismatic than him).

So, essentially, a film about Jupiter got far less interesting because of the focus on Jupiter. It’s what most science fiction stories that are set on Earth and another planet suffer from.

However, the film isn’t completely at fault. There are elements that make this something amazing. Mostly Eddie Redmayne and the set design.

As everyone who’s been following the awards season knows, Redmayne is a rising star, and in Jupiter Ascending he is the star. His performance is unique, it’s interesting, and especially the way he uses his voice to convey the age of his character is incredible.

But what makes this film astounding is the look of it. The design is the contrast between the Steampunk of the outfits, the machinery and the weapons, the bureaucratic planet which heavily resembles the planet Vogsphere where we meet the Vogons in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and plain and simple Earth. It’s unique and interesting, something has become rare in contemporary science fiction films. So in this instance, Jupiter Ascending is a breath of fresh air.

Unfortunately, Eddie Redmayne and the set design weren’t enough to sustain the film, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this story wouldn’t be more suited for a graphic novel.

Still, it’s an interesting film that maybe runs a bit too long, but has something to offer if you like space travel and convoluted plots, go check out Jupiter Ascending. It’s a mediocre follow-up to Cloud Atlas, but still a somewhat engaging story that is worth a watch.

review by Mariana Duarte

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4 thoughts on “Film Review: “Jupiter Ascending”

    Angie said:
    May 10, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    My friend and I agree with you because as soon as we got out the door we decided that we would be ready to read a Game of Thrones sized graphic novel set in this world, but the film itself just didn’t deliver. I give it major points for creativity, but I can’t help but wonder if it would work better if they casted someone other than Kunis and Tatum.

    Like

      thefilmology responded:
      May 10, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      I was wondering the same about the casting, Angie. Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum had no chemistry whatsoever. It really was a strange choice…

      Like

        Angie said:
        May 10, 2015 at 4:40 pm

        To give credit where it’s due, I can sort of see why they chose who they did. Tatum can do action and can smolder like a champ. Kunis pretty much the poster child for the fun-loving everywoman, even if she’s inhumanely beautiful. Tatum just seemed unwilling to give into the camp like Redmayne and Kunis got lost in the cgi. I don’t know who would be better. Tom Hardy and errr…. Morgot Robbie!

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        thefilmology responded:
        May 10, 2015 at 4:44 pm

        I agree. He didn’t seem super into the whole man-dog thing. But if you’re gonna be in a campy film about space families, you might as well give into the camp.
        Tom Hardy would have kicked butt in that part!

        Liked by 1 person

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