Unsuccessful Space Opera – Jupiter Ascending (2015)

An expensive mess.  So in the near future, Earth is on the verge of becoming aware that there is life outside of Earth.  This is about a young woman (Mila Kunis) who discovers that she is actually intergalactic nobility, and that she must figure out how to save Earth from a destructive alien industry.  Things have not been going great for the Wachowski… siblings (is that what they are going by these days?).  Everybody knows how great The Matrix is, and regardless of how you feel about the subsequent sequels, they all made truckloads of money.  With their last three outings, they have released films that have failed to find their audience; Speed Racer didn’t make its budget back, and nobody saw Cloud Atlas, at least not domestically.  With Jupiter Ascending, they have made yet another film that is not commercially viable, and I haven’t talked to anybody who was remotely excited about this.

1401886372_jupiter-ascending-467Seriously, who keeps giving the Wachowskis money to make movies?  They’re always big budget, and I sincerely doubt they can craft another franchise that will perform as well as The Matrix.

Where this falls apart is in its acting.  The special effects are clearly there; I always felt that I was looking at a visual effect on the screen, but if I had cared about the characters, I know that I would have noticed it less.  Really though, the acting is all over the place, and you get the full range of the spectrum.  Channing Tatum is above and beyond trying the hardest here; his most recent resurgence has shown that he is a capable actor with talent, and he’s the only one who I felt actually earned his paycheck, despite the off-putting make-up effects.  It is extremely clear early on that Mila Kunis doesn’t want to be here, and is merely going through the motions, which really rubs me the wrong way.  I get that your agent got you this job and it’s a stupid script, but you’re being paid to do a job.  This could have easily been halfway worthwhile had she shown up in spirit.  So if that’s the good and the bad, that must mean we’ve arrived at the ugly: the academy award winning Eddie Redmayne.  What is hilarious is that this is the direct follow up for him for The Theory of Everything.  I would not be surprised to see his performance nominated for a Razzie, if voters can remember this past whatever movie Adam Sandler is coming out with this year.  The sad thing is that Redmayne’s performance is the most entertaining thing about Jupiter Ascending.  He only has two volumes: feeble man on his death bed whisper, and THE ANGRIEST MAN IN THE WORLD YELL.  There is no middle ground, and the direction that he received on this goes to show what the Wachowskis’ priorities were on this one: the special effects.

JUPITER ASCENDINGIf there are clips of his performance available on Youtube, you should check it out.  It’s a better alternative to actually watching this.

If the Wachowskis directed Star Wars, it would probably look a lot like this, so it’s probably best we have J.J. Abrams helming Episode VII.  They really threw everything but the kitchen sink at the screen, and in doing so, they made this far more convoluted than it needed to be.  It’s not an efficiently told story, and there is a ton of fat that could have been trimmed off.  In addition to that, there is no chemistry between the leads; even though there is no romance hinted at during the first half of the film, we still have to have a very awkward moment when the script calls for Kunis and Tatum to suddenly fall in love just because they’re both attractive.  For being the most important person in the universe, our protagonist is pretty worthless, and it is never fully revealed just what makes her so special (really, she looks like a deceased matriarch, and she can control bees, what’s the big fuss?).  The biggest downfall to this is the lead actress doesn’t care, so as a result, you never care as well.

Jupiter Ascending (2015) **

– Critic for Hire

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