Hey all, it’s time for another D&D Mixed Review! This time myself (Derek) and Denis will be talking about the Wachowskis’ newest Sci Fi adventure film, Jupiter Ascending. As per the gimmick the review will be broken down into four categories; Plot, Performances, Production and Overall film quality. The review will then end with the ranking of; SEE IN THEATRES, WAIT FOR RENTAL or PASS. So let’s jump right in.
Jupiter Ascending follows, Jupiter (Mila Kunis) a women living a boring life in the Chicago area working for her families cleaning business. One day her life is changed when she’s nearly killed by a group of aliens working for Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne). She’s saved by another alien, Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) who along with his friend Stinger (Sean Bean) tries to defend her from the Abrasax family and find out her importance and place in the galaxy.
While this type of big space film is becoming more and more common, Jupiter Ascending lacks something that Guardians of the Galaxy has, a good story. The filmmakers had a whole series of great ideas and built a world that is interesting and feels lived in but the characters, dialogue and plot leave a great deal to be desired. The film comes off clunky when it grinds down to scenes filled with characters talking space business ventures instead of large scale action stuff. The Wachowskis are visual filmmakers, not storytellers and this is one of the best examples of this.
The plot seems simple to me, a girl on earth discovers she is entitled to a vast wealth due to her biology. Simple, but the story gets needlessly complicated from there, mainly because if feels like the movie has to explain its weirdness. Elements of the film are interesting such as a species introduced that play to the “area 51 alien” and ideas about dinosaurs evolving into more humanoid creatures. It’s a world that’s interesting and something that I want to enjoy, but it tells a story that is so horribly told and presented.
In the section above it’s clear that the plot isn’t up to scratch, and the same could be said for the performances. JA has a large cast, most of which in small alien roles but the ones who are worst are the main cast. At first the idea of casting Mila Kunis in a space adventure might seem fine, but after 30 minutes of her bland uninteresting portrayal of Jupiter it’s clear that it was a wrong choice. That being said, the additions of Channing Tatum as Caine Wise and Sean Bean as Stinger both serve for solid, if not too familiar, characters in the film. However, the one performer that stood out was Eddie Redmayne as the main villain Balem Abrasax. It’s amazing that Redmayne could be given such praise for The Theory of Everything and give one of the worst screen appearances since John Travolta in Battlefield Earth just months later. Man is he awful.
Much of the ridiculous character names are played by a wide cast of likeable people, who either don’t buy into a word they’re saying or don’t understand what they’re saying. It leaves you with the feeling of people filing in positions and not really helping to realize a character. I struggle to think of a singe character presented that I would want to see again or learn more about.
Now that I’m done bashing the film’s plot and performances, lets get to the good stuff. The overall production of the film is excellent, this is the one area where the Wachowskis excel. The world of JA is deep but easy to get lost in, as little of anything is explained. The sibling directors have a keen eye for the overall feel and design of shots. That being said, there were a number of sequences, including the chase scene through Chicago, that left me a little flat. While it’s impressive to use computer graphics to create a scene, it doesn’t help the flow of certain scenes. Said chase could have been designed to show more practical effects, but they choice to go in the opposite direction and it looked less impressive for it. Adding onto that is the editing, which is so fast that it cripples not only the action scenes but the overall flow of the film.
Obviously the Wachowskis are visual thinkers. The worlds imagines and action sequences were done really well, but it reminds me of when people talked about Avatar and how the visuals were fantastic, but everything else made the visuals just a thing. I can’t really say much more in regards to the visual style or general production, it feels like a big sci-fi space opera, but it never left me with anything more than it’s prettiness.
In the end, Jupiter Ascending is a film that has a thousand great ideas but just can’t translate them from the page to the screen like they want it to. With the plot, characters and dialogue needing more depth (or another script draft) and the editing making certain action scenes frustrating to follow it’s difficult to recommend this movie. Despite the success of the Matrix franchise, JA is just trying to capture the same magic and sadly is fails…hard. PASS
Jupiter Ascending is a great film in concept, but in execution it failed to connect with me. I loved everything the Wachowskis did before this. I really enjoy all three Matrix films when most don’t, and Speed Racer is an incredible film. I wanted to like this movie but it just didn’t work for me. Perhaps in the future I’ll give it another go, but for now I honestly cannot recommend it. PASS
Jupiter Ascending is distributed by Warner Bros. and Roadshow Entertainment (Australia and New Zealand).