Editor’s Notes: Jupiter Ascending is out on 3D Blu-ray and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack June 2nd.
Jupiter Ascending (Warner Home Video) is a multi-million-dollar epic that makes you wonder how that money could have been better spent. This is the kind of movie that relies on special effects razzle-dazzle to distract the viewer from noticing that there’s a lot less here than meets the eye.
Russian immigrant Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born with signs that she is destined for great things. As an adult, however, Jupiter awakens every morning at 4:45 muttering “I hate my life,” as she sets out with her mother and aunt to clean other people’s houses. Her specialty: scrubbing toilets.
A multi-million-dollar epic that makes you wonder how that money could have been better spent.
Her fortunes take a turn when Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered part wolf/part human ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down. Jupiter soon finds herself in the midst of a cosmic power struggle because she has the same DNA as the recently deceased queen of the universe. Naturally the queen’s children, Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne, Titus (Douglas Booth) and Kalique Abrasax (Tuppence Middleton), all focus on heir-apparent Jupiter as an impediment to their nefarious ambitions.
Directed by brothers Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix, Speed Racer) Jupiter Ascending is a muddle whose premise is far-fetched even for the science fiction genre. The script bears influences from Star Wars, The Terminator, and even the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but can’t stand on its own shaky merits. Oddly enough, the bookend scenes of Jupiter in her earthly environment are the best. Ms. Kunis is surrounded by first-rate actors and the scenes suggest typical, recognizable family conflicts in which love can be cloaked in insensitivity and impatience. The major part of the movie, however, is set among the stars and is complicated by too many characters and a meandering plot.
Mr. Tatum plays his action-figure role for the most part emotionlessly and humorlessly. His previous movie roles show that he can deliver drama and comedy equally well, but here he’s simply a hunky presence whose performance is digitally enhanced.
The worst performance of the film is that of Eddie Redmayne, who whispers every line unless he shouts one out at the top of his voice. This is supposed to convey villainy, illusions of grandeur, and psychosis, but comes across as just bad acting — especially disappointing since he was so terrific in The Theory of Everything.
The Wachowskis are visual directors who put eye-catching images ahead of script cohesion. Unfortunately, eye-catching can equate to mind-deadening when special effects are overdone, as they are here.
The Wachowskis are visual directors who put eye-catching images ahead of script cohesion. Unfortunately, eye-catching can equate to mind-deadening when special effects are overdone, as they are here. The best visual touch is Caine’s anti-gravity boots. With soles illuminated in blue, the boots enable him to transport himself above the ground, race like a speed skater up walls and across ceilings, and soar across the sky a la Superman. He’s quite handy to have around when the forces of evil begin converging on Jupiter.
If you think of an action video game, you’ll have an idea of what to expect with Jupiter Ascending. When the Wachowskis pause for some dialogue, exposition, or even a strained romantic scene between Caine and Jupiter, you can feel the movie being swallowed up in its own shortcomings.
Bonus extras on the 3D Blu-ray and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include a profile on the Wachowski brothers and several behind-the-scenes, making-of featurettes. There is also a Digital HD copy enclosed.