Jupiter AscendingTitle: Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Director: The Wachowskis
Runtime: 127 minutes

I was so upset when Jupiter Ascending got delayed from last summer to February 2015. I was stoked for it, and while I’m not big on the second and third Matrix films, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the other Wachowski movies. So I was pumped to see this, with my hype train fully loaded, IMAX 3D glasses planted on my head, and stale popcorn and sugar water in my hands.

Jupiter Jones is your everyday housekeeper. She works and lives with her family who run a large cleaning business. She decides to donate her eggs for money so she can buy a telescope, which resembles the one her father owned before he died. Before you know it, a bunch of bounty hunters and little grey men land on Earth and want Jupiter, who just happens to be an alien queen reincarnated. That’s a little gist of the plot. There’s more to it, but I’ll leave the twists and turns out for the sake of keeping this spoiler-free.

Jupiter Ascending‘s biggest problem is that it never has time to develop the characters or the universe to the point of making it as epic as the action. We are basically handed a set piece and a plot device, and as soon as that device is done, we have jumped, changed location and clothes, and are onto the next plot device. It’s not that the film isn’t interesting, because it is, and I enjoyed each character as they came to life on the screen, but at times it feels like a crap ton has been cut out or removed to keep the film at a very tight two-hour runtime. I actually enjoyed the plot as it developed and I really wish we were given more time to digest things as they went down, and to flesh out the other world’s people.

I’m not a fan of Channing Tatum, but he’s just lively enough here to not be annoying, and his dialogue is sparse, which is a plus because he has the acting abilities of Kristen Stewart. Mila Kunis is likable in the role of Jupiter Jones, but may be a little too pretty for the family she comes from, and her facial reactions could use a little work. Eddie Redmayne plays one of the Abrasax siblings, and delivers this truly bizarre performance that left me questioning what was going on. It’s very relaxed and creepy, and I don’t know if that is how it was intended, but he always left me feeling uncomfortable.

If Jupiter Ascending  does one thing correctly, it delivers the action in such a high octane dosage that I was left bewildered at what was happening. The logic of delaying the film for CGI, true or not, would have been a good one because this film relies entirely on it’s CGI, and I bought every moment of it. Be it Caine flying around the skyline of Chicago with his jet boots, flinging Jupiter around as they dodge alien ships that are chasing them and blowing up buildings, or watching an entire city be ravaged by explosions as flying dinosaurs battle Caine in the air. All of this happens, and all of it is mind-numbingly awesome. The epic soundtrack really adds to the beauty of the film, and always gets the blood pumping.

Jupiter Ascending is a beautiful, and, sadly, soulless film. That said, I left the theatre entirely pleased with the $15 I dropped on the it. While I can see why people aren’t happy with it, I got what I wanted: an original science fiction space opera. Though the film lacks in its delivery of its plot, there is a fascinating universe that’s created, and the set pieces and action are top notch, something only the Wachowski’s could deliver. If you’ve liked their other work, then you will most likely enjoy Jupiter Ascending as well.

three_stars

Chris Ranson
Film Critic at Cinefessions

Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.