AM At The Movies: ‘Jupiter Ascending’

Above: Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in Jupiter Ascending
Above: Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending
Starring: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean
Directed by: The Wachowskis
Run Time: 127 minutes

Jupiter Ascending is a sprawling intergalactic tale from the minds of Lana and Andy Wachowski, the creative siblings behind The Matrix Trilogy and V for Vendetta. After having tremendous success with Neo and hitting their mark on their adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, their latest efforts have fallen flat. Speed Racer was a massive undertaking that missed the mark badly and 2012’s Cloud Atlas featured major names (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry), but failed to connect with the audience.

Those recent missteps combined with the fact that the film was pushed back from last summer’s “blockbuster season” to this weekend set it up to fail… and it does… miserably.

The premise is out there, even by science fiction standards.

Earth is a piece or real estate being fought over by a bunch of sniveling siblings – the Abrasax kids, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppance Middleton) and Titus (Douglas Booth) – after their mother died under suspicious circumstances. Down on the little asteroid their squabling over, a Russian cleaning girl that hates her life (Mila Kunis) happens to be a genetic reincarnation of the deceased Abrasax matriarch, which mean she’s now the rightful owner of Earth.

One wants to kill her, another wants to protect her and the third is basically nothing more than set decoration. The one that wants to protect her sends a half-wolf, half-human legionnaire with rocket boots (Channing Tatum) to Earth to save her, while the one that wants to kill her, well, tries to kill her. Fights ensue. Repeatedly. With participants changing teams and doing things that never get fully explained, but it doesn’t really matter because by this point, chances are you’ve stopped really paying attention.

Simpy put: Jupiter Ascending is a mess.

There is too much going on and not enough time devoted to explaining what the hell is going on. The only part that is easy to follow is that Kunis is in danger and Tatum wants to save her; the rest is just really glossy, expensive, bat-crap crazy noise.

It’s kind of like an off-brand, low-rent version of Star Wars, but only if George Lucas focused almost exclusively on making the TIE fighter battles look cool… and failed.

This movie feels like it was supposed to be a four-and-a-half hour epic, but the studio told The Wachowskis they get two hours to work with and better include all the damn CGI that set them back a fortune. So what you’re left with is a disjointed story, bad acting and a bunch of visual effects that aren’t all that great. Good times!

Jupiter Ascending makes it three straight spectacular flops for The Wachowskis, which could very well mean they’ve spent up all the Hollywood currency they earned via The Matrix and honestly, that might be a good thing. Maybe after striking out over the last few years, they’ll stop trying to make colossal masterpieces that are all over the map and focus on just making a clean, tight, well-received flick again.

Then again, after swinging for the fences and missing with both Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas, they thought this was the best thing to make, so who knows what comes next.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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