From the The Wachowskis (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas) comes the sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a woman who lives a pretty unremarkable life, which includes a job of cleaning toilets. Jupiter encounters a genetically engineered interplanetary warrior named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), who informs her that humanity’s true origins come from a distant planet and that Jupiter has the same gene sequence as the former matriarch of the royal House of Abrasax, which make Jupiter the inheritor of the Earth. Jupiter finds herself in the middle of a war for inheritance between the matriarch’s three children, the eldest of which Balem (Eddie Redmayne) will do anything to keep the Earth as his own.
It has been sixteen years, since The Wachowskis wowed audiences with The Matrix. Since that 1999 breakthrough, the siblings directed two Matrix sequels that many were disappointed by, wrote and produced V for Vendetta, and directed the arguably divisive films of Speed Racer in 2008 and Cloud Atlas in 2012. I can generally say that I enjoyed all those films, including the Matrix sequels, however it can be argued that The Wachowskis have not been able to mirror the success of their big breakthrough.
That all said, Jupiter Ascending marks the point where The Wachowskis have truly jumped the shark. I will not go as far and say that I hated the film, however I definitely felt that something was off when I was watching it. The basic plot of Jupiter Ascending, which includes Jupiter’s discovery that life on Earth was created by other worldly beings, is pretty much a rehash of The Matrix, except that it involves distant worlds, instead of a digital one. The film also heavily references other science fiction stories, ranging from Star Wars to Dune.
If there is one positive thing that can be said about Jupiter Ascending, it is that the film succeeds in being a spectacle. The Wachowskis really know how to shoot a good action set-piece and there is nothing really wrong with that aspect of the film. However, the actual plot of the film, which is little more than Jupiter finding herself in the middle of a sibling rivalry, leaves much to be desired. In fact, Mila Kunis comes across as very passive for the main character of the story, with most of the work being done by Channing Tatum’s Caine. Speaking of which, the whole concept of characters, who are spliced with animals, really results in some odd visuals in the film.
By far the worst aspect of Jupiter Ascending is Eddie Redmayne as Balem Abrasax, who is probably the most cringe-worthy antagonist in any of The Wachowskis’ films. Redmayne’s performance in the film is really something that you would watch and ask to yourself “This is an Oscar nominated actor?” Then there are the other two Abrasax siblings Titus (Douglas Booth) and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), who both have their own interactions with and plans for Jupiter, but are ultimately only in the film to provide filler. Rounding out the supporting cast of Jupiter Ascending is Sean Bean as Stinger Apini, who is fine enough in the film, even though he ultimately factors very little into the overall plot.
Altogether, while it can be said that Jupiter Ascending definitely delivers on being a sci-fi spectacle, the actual plot of the film has many huge issues, which prevents me from really recommending it.6 | WATCHABLE