“Jupiter Ascending” The Hot Mess Prom Date Of Cinema

By Scott Kurland
Film: Jupiter Ascending
Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, and Tuppence Middleton
Rated PG-13
Directors: Lana and Andy Wachowski

I hate to say it, but the space serial is dead. I’m calling it...time of death 2015. Alert its family and send flowers. The closest we came was “Serenity” in 2005, but that was more of a space opera. I miss those “Flash Gordon” films. I even miss “The Adventures of Buck Rogers”, but this day and age no one wants to camp up their films. At least, that is what I thought until I saw the trailer for this week’s film “Jupiter Ascending;” directed by the Wachowski siblings. This is the team that gave us “The Matrix” and “Cloud Atlas”. However, they also gave us “Speed Racer” and “The Matrix Revolution”, so this film could go either way. I sat down, watched the film, and then afterwards thought, “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?” I was so confused. So, sit back relax, and here is my perplexed review of “Jupiter Ascending”. (No seriously this film has more holes in it than swiss cheese.)

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is an alien...I mean a foreign alien. Her family is from Russia, but she was born on a boat overseas and has no country to call home. Her life is unimportant and dull. She spends her days cleaning toilets  and the homes of the rich with her mother. At night, she dreams of a better life. All that changes when a bounty hunter from space named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) brings her to  a galaxy far, far away (I cant believe I just said that) to claim her birth right. Apparently, Jupiter is the reincarnation of one of the mothers of the royal space families known as the house of Abrasax. Jupiter learns that she has the right to claim the earth as her own. Trouble ensues when the oldest Abrasax, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), realizes Jupiter is going to take what he thought was his inheritance. So, Balem orders Jupiter to be killed because he needs earth in order to harvest people in order for him to stay young. WHAT? No seriously, that is what the movie is about.

I’ll be blunt. The only good thing about this film is Channing Tatum. Tatum made this movie right after “Foxcatcher,” and was already growing as an actor. He brings that same intensity from “Foxcatcher” to “Jupiter Ascending”. His character of Caine is a half human, half wolf....yeah they get into genetics splicing in this film; it’s super weird. Tatum is really starting to break down barriers. Once considered nothing but a pretty face, Tatum truly has blossomed into a great talent. He’s proven he can do comedy, drama, and action. Yet, here he’s an example of a really terrific actor stuck in a film that is....well it’s sub par...actually less than sub par. The only reason why this film will be getting the grade it is lies all on the performance of Tatum. 

I really hate to say this but the two weakest performances come from the female lead and villain, that’s right, Mila and Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne. I’ll touch upon Redmayne before I go on to the lady Kunis. Redmayne has been winning award left and right for his portrayal of Dr. Stephen Hawking in “The Theory Of Everything”. However, he may have just pulled an Eddie Murphy. If you remember back in 2006-2007 award season Eddie Murphy was nominated for an Oscar for “Dreamgirls”. He was a lock to win too... until “Norbit” came out two weeks before the Oscars. His over the top performance prevented him from winning an Oscar for a completely different film. That’s what we have here with Redmayne. A terrible performance from an otherwise great actor. Redmayne’s Balem sounds like a whispering John Gielgud in one scene and is screaming like Gilbert Gottfried in the next. This is a very, very, very bad performance. A performance so bad you want to roll up the newspaper and whack Redmayne on the nose screaming “Bad Eddie, very bad Eddie, we do this type of acting outside...in the park where it’s free.”

As for Kunis, I don’t know what to say. I’m shocked that she wasn’t her bubbly charming self. In this film Kunis is pushed into the damsel in distress role. Although she ends up defeating the villain, it isn’t enough. I was really let down by this performance because of how amazing Mila was in “Black Swan”. It’s really not her fault, the people to blame are the directors the Wachowski siblings Lana and Andy. Talk about the mighty falling, the Wachowskis made “The Matrix” and “Bound”. Now they’re making this genre confused mess.
Besides Tatum the only likable things in this film are the costume design and cinematography. Yeah, I know that isn’t much to go on for a big budget studio picture. What really is awful is how self confused this film really is. “Jupiter Ascending” doesn’t know what it is. One minute it’s a personal struggle for identity. The next it’s a Sci-Fi space epic, but then it tries to make itself a wacky Terry Gilliam film like “Brazil”. There’s a ten minute scene featuring Terry Gilliam set in the “central bureaucracy”. Does this scene make sense? No! Does it belong in this film? Not a chance! So why is it here? Because Lana and Andy were able to get Terry Gilliam, that’s the only reason. They wanted to show their hero they could make a film like his, but the kicker is, they couldn’t. 

“Jupiter Ascending” is the Hollywood equivalent  of putting lipstick on a pig. Warner Brothers can put as much rouge and Covergirl it wants, but it will still have a curly tail and oink. The only reason I am giving this film as high of a grade as I am is for the following reasons: Tatum’s performance is really excellent, in an other wise unoriginal production. The costumes and design are pretty great. Finally, there is some great cinematography by John Toll. Without any of those details, “Jupiter Ascending” would be a recycled piece of Hollywood cliche trying to mask itself as something new.  Do yourself a favor and save your money, this is a light rental.

scott kurlandComment