Review written by Anthony Tyson. February 10 2015
Just this past weekend I finally found myself with a chance to go to one of my favorite places, The Alamo Drafthouse, to see a movie with friends. As Jupiter Ascending had a lot of big names in the film(Eddie Redmayne, Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean), I thought this was a perfect movie to see with friends. It lived up to this for me, but for all the wrong reasons. Let me explain...
The Wachowskis have always had a pretty interesting take on Sci-Fi, but with The Matrix being rooted in it's place on earth, they have never taken their vision to outer space. With Jupiter Ascending they got the chance, but failed stupendously. During the first 15 minutes of the film you are provided with a long monologue going into the main character’s birth, that left you kind of confused honestly. Rather than setting up the character, these 15 minutes just felt like the Wachowkis looking for an excuse to go on a tirade for immigration reform. It was just funny due to how completely noticeable it was, and quite frankly unneeded, they are preaching to the choir. As I'm already now disengaged from the film, I was then treated to a cleaning montage for about 2 or three minutes. As I'm taking this in, I could not help humming the 'Cinderella, Cinderella' song from the Disney classic, in my head. After that it went to a different scene with Channing Tatum, and he’s fighting a bunch of bounty hunters from space, that looked like they were characters more fit for a B-list 90's space action flick. The film was now suffering from one of the most egregious problem a film can have, not sucking you in.
As the film went on, and wrapped to its conclusion, another glaring problem was revealed to me: no character depth. The entire cast was largely forgettable with very few exceptions, and those exceptions are bad. Sean Bean is stuck in an a-typical action role, being this worn-out cop who actually makes a few references to his possible death a few times in the film. Hilariously enough (spoilers) he actually doesn't die! I also remember the unfortunate characters of Jupiter (Mila Kunis) and 'Lycanite, bounty hunter marine’ (Channing Tatum). Their 'romance' was this ridiculously cheesy attempt, mainly to try and force a reason for Channing Tatum's character to give a shit about Mila Kunis and her supposed "royalty". Jupiter even has the crass to equate him to a dog, in which the Wachowski's then set up a joke about her "loving dogs". If I was this guy, I would have have flipped Jupiter the bird a long time ago and got the hell out of dodge. This now leads me to the next victim of the movie: the main villain. Eddie Redmayne plays the main antagonist 'Balem', in one of the worst performances I have ever seen. It’s so horribly bad that his agents have actually tried to distance his name from the film; actually making sure that his name is never mentioned in any of the trailers. This guy is one of the Oscar Nominees this year, and it’s crazy to think that he performed this role barely a year past. If the character Balem was to put out an e-harmony profile, it would read something like this:
"Whiny man seeking a replacement female figure in his life, to help get over his mommy issues"
To add worse for the wear, Balem seems to suffering from bronchitis during the film, and his accent sounds like a wheezy mix between Dumbledore and Gandalf. When you add this level of ridiculousness to an already convoluted plot, the results will not mix well. If memory serves correctly, as large amounts of this movie were forgettable, the whole plot is about Jupiter ascending to her "Royal" status. It doesn’t really go anywhere from that, even though you could tell they were trying to do more with the plot. She haphazardly saves earth and rescues her family in the end, but there was no sense of deeper motivation. It just kind of…happens. To sum up the movie in total, here is my list of sins that this movie committed:
• No explanation of larger lore
• Couldn’t decide if it was Beauty & The Beast, Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty in Space
• Terrible Characters
• Villains morality was entirely Black & White Ideals, ie. GREED
• Hinduism concepts vaguely touched at, hardly explained at all
• Cheesy Lines used to try and describe big moments: "Bees follow royalty", "I love Dogs", "Your Majesty"
• Atrocious accents
• Forgettable Romance
• Jupiter stuck in a very "Lois Lane" kind of role, had to be saved constantly
• Technically Jupiter isn’t royalty, just really freaking rich
• Channing Tatum on rollerblades..... Though that might be a good thing depending on who you ask
If I fully explained every problem of the movie, we would be at this all day. The one good thing I can say though, is that the movie does look really good. The concept artists, for the most part, are to be commended for the really cool designs they made for the film. It’s unfortunate that this amazing art style is just completely hindered by the movie's lack of substance. At the end of the day, the film was fun to watch: but only in that horribly bad sort of way. It’s a good film to get drunk to and completely roast with friends.
A Netflix watch, or redbox rental at best.