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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Jupiter Ascending | Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne | Review

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2sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is BAD Judy Thorburn

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2lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is BAD


Jupiter Ascending

'Jupiter Ascending' is yet another step backward for Lana and Andy Wachowski, the filmmaking siblings who broke new ground with The Matrix Trilogy, but haven't made a cohesive, intelligent, sci fi movie since. Case in point, their last sci fi epic, the three hour Cloud Atlas was a commercial and critical disappointment.

Plagued by bad buzz, it is no wonder the Jupiter Ascending's release date was pushed back from late July 2014 to February, 2015. Supposedly, the delay was needed due to finishing the film’s elaborate visual effects, which could not be completed in time for an international summer release.

Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, a pretty young Russian immigrant living with her mom and aunt in Chicago where she works as a housekeeper, cleaning other people's toilets. Every morning Jupiter wakes up complaining how she hates her life, clueless that she possesses otherworldly royal DNA. That soon changes after Jupiter is coerced by her cousin Vlad to go to a clinic and donate her eggs for money and finds herself the target of an assination attempt by some nasty alien beings posing as doctors. Rescued in the nick of time by Cain Wise (Channing Tatum) a genetically engineered ex-military hunter equipped with anti gravity flying boots who has been sent to track her down,  Jupiter soon learns  that she is the genetic reincarnation of the matriarch of the Abraxas (isn't that the name of an old Santana album?) Dynasty, one of the most powerful dynasties in the Universe. After the Queen died, each of her three heirs, eldest and most vicious son Balem (an over the top Eddie Redmayne ), daughter Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and the youngest, pretty boy Titus (Douglas Booth, “Noah”) engage in sibbling rivalry to gain ownership of mommy dearest's Planet Earth. The only thing standing in their way is the “recurrance” of their mother, in the form of Jupiter, who, poses a threat to their inheritance, and needs to be taken out.

After rescuing Jupiter from imminent death, and sweeping her in the air for a wild ride high above the Chicago skyline, Cain seeks help from a fellow militairy alien, Stinger (Sean Bean) whose been living on earth with his daughter in a bee infested house in the middle of nowhere. It is there that Stinger tells Jupiter about the origins of the human race, saying that earth was seeded by Abraxas Industries over 100,000 years ago. When earth becomes overpopulated with humans, the Abraxas rulers sweep in to harvest the entire species. Later Jupiter discovers that 'harvesting” means extracting a liquid from earthlings to make a concoction that keeps these intergalactic royals so young for thousands of years.

The Wachowskis deliver yet another movie that is visually stunning and action packed and 'Jupiter Ascending' does hit the mark when it comes to dazzling special effects, gorgeous sets, and plenty of action including aerial chases, explosions and fighting. Unfortunately, the filmmaking duo should spend more time crafting a good script, which is clearly lacking in this intergalactic soap opera extravaganza complete with shifting alliances, double crosses, lies and deceptions and characters that appear to be relevant to the plot but fall by the wayside.  There are also elements reminiscent of Star Wars, Star Trek, Barbarella, Dune, Silver Surfer and even The Hunger Games injected into this overloaded scenario.

What is required is that you leave your brains and logic at home and go with the flow, which means ignoring the bad, laughable dialogue, accepting the ridiculous love connection, and whatever else is thrown your way.

Mila Kunis does her best as the pretty damsel in distress, although she spends most of her time looking bewildered and trying to figure out what is going on. Channing Tatum, who is a Lycantant crossbreed between a wolf and man, comes across more as Jupiter's hunky, chivalrous and fearless knight in shining armor, than a disgraced soldier that was court martialled for tearing someone's throat out. Formally adorned with wings they were removed as part of his punishment, he is hoping to earn them back and return to being a skyjacker.

Appearing in smaller cameo roles are Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Behind the Lights”), Nikki Amuka-Bird (“Luther”), and Doona Bae (“Cloud Atlas”) as a form of alien breed, and an almost unrecognizable Terry Gilliam shows up in an off the wall sequence as the Seal and Signet Minister in the (supposedly) technically advanced outer space society where the bureaucracy is not much different than on Earth.

In the end, what comes to mind is that 'Jupiter Ascending' is like a beautifully gift wrapped box; nice to look at but, if it is shallow and without substance, has throwaway value. I would advise the Wachowskis to take that into consideration before making another flick that should ascend to audience expectations rather than descend to mediocrity.


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