I’m a big goofy sci-fi nerd, so I was really looking forward to this movie from the Wachowski siblings. I had such high hopes for this original movie that I put it pretty high up on my list of most anticipated 2015 movies. I’m disappointed to say, however, that Jupiter Ascending is not a good movie. At all.
This movie tells the tale of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), an earth born girl who’s thrust into an intergalactic real estate quarrel when she discovers an unbelievable secret about her genetic line. Jupiter Ascending does really well at world building, but not much else, dragging audiences into a nonsensical story played out by weak characters. It’s a spectacle movie that tries to hide its massive flaws underneath a thin layer of visuals and action sequences. Please, avoid this movie.
What I liked
The world of Jupiter Ascending is a gorgeous one, with great detail to be found in every corner of scenery. The Wachowskis have set up a vast world with completely new laws of nature, logic, and politics. It’s a world that combines the attention to detail from the Mass Effect video game series with the visual splendor of Asgard from Marvel’s Thor franchise. Whenever you’re introduced to a new species or set piece, you feel like there’s a fascinating history behind each of them. This world is one that clearly has history behind it, and it makes you want to know more about it.
Likewise, the story concept you’re presented with is an interesting one. Jupiter Ascending asks us to think of our world and our lives as real estate, all for sale and up for grabs. It makes you think of what might happen to us on this earth, and it also makes you wonder about the inner political and economic systems of the universe. This world’s detail, possible history, and inner-workings all hold great storytelling potential.
What I didn’t like
All the potential held within this unknown universe is completely wasted. I wanted to like this movie. I really did. But as Jupiter Ascending went on, I realized that an interesting world meant nothing if no one bothered to tell you about it. While you see this beautiful and intricate setting, you’re left only to wonder what might be going on amongst the stars, as the movie offers you very little insight as to how things work.
Instead, you’re treated to a nonsensical and confusing story that amounts to a battle of real estate. It’s a story with a lot of potential that is yet again wasted. Nothing is ever clearly explained, leaving you with numerous questions by the time the credits roll. Things seem to happen for little to no reason at all, and the way it all happens is ridiculous as well. This movie’s plot reminded me a lot of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie in how characters kept switching sides before you could even understand why they were on a certain side in the first place. In addition, there’s this forced love story going on that you feel has no place in the movie. It honestly makes you giggle whenever it’s brought up in the dialogue.
The characters themselves are another huge problem with the movie. Jupiter Jones is an uninteresting and unbelievable character, which is not something you want to be saying about a title character. Saying someone is “unbelievable” in a sci-fi movie may seem kind of weird, but it’s completely justified when the character in question is supposed to come from earth. As Jupiter is thrown into this huge conflict over the future of humanity, she seems ridiculously complacent and genuinely disinterested in a way that makes you think, “there’s no way a human would go along with this.” Also, she falls into the “damsel in distress” role way too often. Even when you think she has some leverage over certain characters, she fails to use any of it, forcing Channing Tatum’s character to literally swoop in and save the day. This happens at least six times. Supporting characters are also saddled with weak motivations. You feel like no one in this movie really does anything because it’s what his or her character would do. It seems like people only do things to keep the plot moving.
Their actors and actresses make these characters even weaker, which absolutely amazes me. I know Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum have acting chops. I know they can carry a movie better than this, which got me thinking that maybe this movie was under bad direction…and then I was introduced to Eddie Redmayne’s character, confirming my suspicion. This guy is the front-runner for this year’s Best Actor Oscar. But in this movie, he delivers the most underwhelming, moustache-twirling villain performance I’ve seen in a long time. Honestly, I really want to see The Theory of Everything now just so I can get his character out of my head. It’s just sad.
It breaks my heart to have to say this, but Jupiter Ascending really is a dumb movie. It had so much potential, but it was mostly all squandered. While I would love to see this world get another movie just so it can realize its full potential, I cannot in good faith recommend anyone to see this movie.
If you do end up seeing Jupiter Ascending, let me know what you think.
Good observations. To say that the characters made choices to simply move the plot along instead of flowing from who they were is a profound statement. I agree with your conclusions.