FlixChatter Review: JUPITER ASCENDING (2015)

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This film was supposed to open in the Summer of 2014, but Warner Bros’ delayed it to give more time for post-production work. Heh, clearly they’re far more concerned with all the CGI extravaganza as what the film needed more is a script rewrite. I already had a bad feeling about this even from the unintentionally hilarious trailers. They included the dialog where Channing Tatum said he had more in common with dogs than humans, especially a supposed royalty, to which Mila Kunis replied, “I love dogs, I’ve always loved dogs.” Well, at least they’re consistent as the movie is as dreadful as the promos.

The entire film is a discombobulating and farcical mess, but what’s more baffling is the claim by The Lana Wachowski – as well as several bloggers on Twitter – that this is an *original* sci-fi. Huh?? What originality? The ‘chosen one’ type of plot is rehashed from stuff the Wachowskis themselves have done better with The Matrix, as well as a bunch of other sci-fis. Self-plagiarism isn’t uncommon among filmmakers and I’m fine with it if it actually improves on their previous work.

JupiterAscending_MilaChanningIn any case, the movie opened with the protagonist, Jupiter Jones’ narration about her life story and how she ended up being a cleaning lady in Chicago. Her late dad was an astronomer, hence the name, and a tragic event prompted her family to migrate to America. A lowly beginning to be sure, and she claimed repeatedly how she hated her life. But of course we know that’s not really her *destiny* as in a planet far, far away, three royalty siblings with a name that sounds like some household cleaning product, Abrasax, talk about claiming earth as their own now that their mother’s died. So apparently, their planet consumes earth’s resources in a process called planetary harvest, which basically is an extensive form of genocide in order for the aliens to live forever.

The first act is a long exposition telling us why Jupiter is special and why there are intergalactic bounty hunters as well as an army of weird-looking aliens are after her. But no fret, we’ve got an eyeliner-wearing man-wolf hybrid Caine Wise (Tatum, sporting a goatie & elven ears) with his anti-gravity boots to save the damsel in distress. The action sequences are cool for the first five minutes at best, but it long overstayed its welcome that it became aggravating. Cool visuals can only entertain you for so long when we barely care about the characters and their journey. So apparently Jupiter shares the same DNA sequence as the Abrasax’s late mother and that makes her special as she’s also heir to the throne and could potentially rule earth.

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This is a space opera at its most bloated and risible. It’s full of weird-looking space creatures which are humans cross-bred with elephants, alligators, etc. but they all seem to speak with British accent of course. All of them report to Balem (Eddie Redmayne), who should win a Razzie for the most annoyingly over-the-top performance, as an androgynous looking *royalty* could only whisper or scream and nothing in between. Redmayne seems to take this role way too seriously, but all the theatrical antics prompts grimace and laughter every time he’s on screen.

The protagonists fare slightly better, thought that’s not saying much really. I have to hand it to Mila Kunis, she’s not a particularly strong performer but she always comes across genial and earthy. She’s effortlessly likable though she appears mystified for much of the movie. Channing Tatum is pretty much hired for his physical prowess, as he appears shirtless for a good chunk of the time. He has zero chemistry with Kunis and he kind of has this constipated look throughout, perhaps thanks to the mouthpiece he had to wear during filming (per IMDb trivia) Heh, why they put an actor through that if it had absolutely zero purpose for his character arc nor the story as a whole??

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Poor Sean Bean as Tatum’s friend from his military days didn’t have much to do here other than offering more exposition and saying lines like ‘Bees don’t lie.’  Oh brother! I think this tweet pretty much sums up how I feel about his involvement:

It also pains me to see Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a half human/deer mutation who serves as Balem’s aide. I sure wish Hollywood would recognize talent when they see them. Douglas Booth looks like he could be Redmayne’s prettier younger brother, but both he and Tuppence Middleton who formed the three Abrasax siblings are pretty much fillers. But then again, what can you expect from the supporting characters if the main protagonist doesn’t even have an arc? It may seem like there’s theme of female empowerment here but Jupiter mostly plays a passive role in her own *destiny* [yawn], as she’s whisked away from one strange place to another.

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This movie would’ve probably been slightly more palatable if it had a sense of humor. There are several attempts at it, like Jupiter using a sanitary pad to patch Caine’s wound, ewww gross!! The only true comical moment is the whole bureaucracy process Jupiter has to go through, kind of like an administrative immigration procedure if you will, with Terry Gilliam‘s cameo. I didn’t realize it was him until later and I read that it was an homage to his fantasy satire of bureaucratic society, Brazil.

This is the Wachowskis’ third under-performing film in a row after Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas (which I actually quite like). I doubt they could easily get the kind of astronomical budget like this one ($176 mil), as they’d likely struggle to make half of that given the mere $19 mil opening weekend. Heh, no amount of money and crazy CGI-fest can camouflage a terrible story.

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Final Thoughts: Yet another style-over-substance sci-fi in the vein of Elysium which also boast some arresting space imagery. The costumes, especially Mila’s dresses, are gorgeous and the design of the planetary universe and spaceships are imaginative, if only they’d invest the same care to the story and characters. It amounts to one big dumb flick, not really a step up from those Transformers movie. Now, some dumb action flicks can still be entertaining but to add insult to injury, this movie is also quite boring, and the bombastic action/chase scenes just dragged on for far too long. I guess this one *lives up* to the reputation of being released in Hollywood’s dump month of February. Suffice to say it’ll likely end up in my worst list of the year.

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Well, what are YOUR thoughts about Jupiter Ascending?

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56 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: JUPITER ASCENDING (2015)

    1. Hey I just left you a comment letting you know my review is up, you’ve beat me to it 🙂 Yeah, can’t believe they spent $176 for this crapola, whilst sooo many actual original stories barely got made.

  1. Hi Ruth!

    I unfortunately wasted my time with this film and felt entirely the same way you did. The characters were weak, especially Jupiter, and the story-line was rudimentary. It drove me nuts the way Jupiter was constantly thrown into the damsel in distress situation over and over again, making her look completely unintelligent! Argh!

    I agree with you about the over-acting and weird whisper talking, from Redmayne and felt like crying when I saw how far they limited and reduced Gugu’s talent in this film. I, too, was bored during the action scenes and actually found myself staring off-screen.

    I had a bad feeling going into this film and left with an even worse taste in my mouth. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, right? I’m just really mad I spent $15 for a matinee ticket. That’s Times Square for ya.

    Excellent points, well-said and let’s send this film straight to the sci-fi graveyard.

    Ashley

    1. Hello Ashley! How’ve you been girl?

      Bummer that you shelled out your hard-earned cash ($15, WOW that is steep!) to see this stinker. I feel worse for seeing Gugu here as she’s barely a blip as nothing more than Eddie’s character’s servant. Clearly she’s capable for soooo much more.

      When it’s over, Ivan turned to me and jokingly said, ‘you like to torture me don’t you?’ as I dragged him to see it, ahah. “…let’s send this film straight to the sci-fi graveyard.” Yes, that’s where it belongs! Pretty soon we’ll find this in the bargain bin.

  2. I’m amazed that the Wachowskis’ were able to get so much funding to shoot this crap, I guess Warner Bros. feels they owe the siblings since The Matrix films made so much money for studio. But after this one, I don’t believe they can get that kind of money to make their next movie. I have yet to see any of the Wachowskis’ films after the last Matrix film, I bought Cloud Atlast on Bluray and have yet to watch it. I’ll avoid this one like the plague.

    1. I think their days of getting anything close to $100 is behind them, let alone close to $200!! It’s really a travesty studios greenlit something like THIS whilst there are surely loads of actual innovative stories that barely got made. Cloud Atlas looks like an Oscar contender compared to this, it’s nuts how they went from tons of Oscar winners/nominees in Cloud Atlas (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving) to Channing & Mila!

    1. I wish this is one of those ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ movies but it’s so humorless (apart from some unintentionally hilarious scenes) that it wasn’t as fun as it could have. Now, John Wick is something that knows it’s a big dumb action flick and it doesn’t pretend to be something else.

  3. Ahahaaha! This is wonderfully funny stuff, Ruth. You really take this one down and no mistake! A great read and a film that I’m, very much, expecting little from. I’m kinda hoping it comes under the “sooo bad it’s good category”! 🙂

    1. I’m glad you find my review funny, Mark, I take that as a huge compliment coming from you! 😀 A lot of the reviews I read have been more entertaining than the movie itself. If only this would fit in the ‘sooo bad it’s good’ category because it’d actually have to be fun to belong in that camp.

  4. Damn! Some harsh words for Jupiter Ascending. This film looked terrible from the moment I saw the first bit of news regarding its unfortunate title, then followed by the push back to February and finally by the odd casting choices. It is a shame that Redmayne got himself involved in this flick as he is currently the front runner to win Best Actor in the Academy Awards. It will be an experience similar to that of Halle Berry, who followed up her great role in Monster’s Ball with the woeful remake of Catwoman. Maybe those two are hanging out!
    Great review Ruth!

    1. Well, the harsh words are well-deserved. There’s little to recommend here Niels, even if you like the actors. Redmayne is so weirdly over-the-top here, I have no idea what he’s going for or what *direction* he got from the Wachowskis. Ahah, yeah maybe they’re hanging out w/ Cuba Gooding Jr, too 😉

  5. I got the giggles reading about the family with a name like a cleaning product…nicely done, Ruth. I missed the screening of this and was hoping, based on the trailer, that we’d get a “so bad it’s good” but no such luck, I guess.

    1. Hi Paula! That’s the first thing I thought of when I heard the name, I thought is this deliberate, ahah. That’s just one of the unintentionally hilarious things about this flick.

    1. Haven’t seen Speed Racer but I quite like Cloud Atlas but this is a downgrade from that as the plot is not only all over the place but it’s banal and hollow.

  6. Ouch! But I have to say I’m not surprised. Come to terms with the fact that I just don’t like the Wachowskis. To be honest they drive me insane with their overindulgent filmmaking. The Matrix was indeed good but over the years it’s a film that I don’t find myself yearning to watch again. And I’m definitely not excited about seeing Jupiter. I had originally thought I would give it a shot anyway, but with all of the reviews I just don’t want to sit through it.

    1. Hi Keith! You are a very wise man for not wanting to sit through this movie. If you’re not a fan of the Wachowskis then I can’t imagine you’d enjoy this one bit, as it’s got all of the overindulgence you mentioned, and very little originality. I only like the first Matrix film but I haven’t rewatched it in years. Did you care for Cloud Atlas at all or did you skip that one too?

        1. Ah ok, then best to avoid this one Keith! There are still some redeeming qualities I like about Cloud Atlas, though I can see why some people detest it. But this one, absolute crapola in the highest degree!

  7. You’re so right about no amount of money and special effects can camouflage a terrible story. I’m staying far from away this movie. It looked like a disaster from the first time I saw the trailer.

    1. Yeah, it’s definitely as disastrous as it appears in the trailer. I’m glad I didn’t pay for it but that was still a waste of my precious time.

  8. I was looking forward to seeing this one until the negative reviews started pouring in. It sounds pretty terrible and I’m not sure I’ll bother seeing it now. When Mila Kunis’ dresses are the only reason you want to see a movie, it’s pretty bad. Maybe I’ll just flick through the movie stills on imdb 🙂

    1. Ahah too funny Natalie, yeah just look for the movie stills on IMDb, or wait until they’re showing it on TV or something if you’re curious 🙂

  9. Stu

    Ouch! This really does sound terrible, and more than a little embarrassing for Mr Redmayne with the Oscars round the corner, by the looks of it. That said, I did enjoy reading, and I think I might go and see this on Friday for a laugh. It sounds so over-indulgent I can’t imagine anyone actually liking it (I actually enjoyed Cloud Atlas when I saw it, and think it’s one of the most underrated films of recent years, despite its flaws). I went to see Selma last night and as I arrived people were coming out from another screen, having just watched Jupiter Ascending. I don’t think I’ve seen such a morose, disillusioned bunch of people in the cinema since The Phantom Menace.

    1. Yeah he probably didn’t think the movie will come out the same month as Oscar! I quite like Cloud Atlas too, but this one is simply awful. Outside the theater, the PR agent asked what I think about the movie and I replied, ‘oh I don’t think you want to know what I think’ but I think she knew how bad it was. Looking fwd to your review of SELMA btw!

        1. I was hoping it’d at least still be entertaining 😦

          Btw, I’m still working on the Valentine post, hope to get ’em to you by Thursday PM. Btw, you’re invited to my B’day festivities… or you can call it a B’day List-ravaganza 😀

          1. Oh, you misunderstand, methinks! I think your post was funny and I liked that more, I’m sure, than watching the film! 😉 I’m loooking forward to the Valentine’s post. And with regards to your Bday festivities (Happy Birthday!) I would love to participate. Let me check your post and see what’s up…..

            1. Oh no, I meant the movie, not my review. Sorry I should’ve been more clear 🙂

              Hey thanks! I’m excited for our first collaboration, we should do more in the future!

  10. And, BTW, this may be my favorite review of yours. Such biting wit…but I love when people rip movies apart…there is a glee in being brutally honest 😉

    1. Hey Drew, THANK YOU! It was actually fun to write it, more so than watching it, ahah. I REALLY don’t know what Redmayne is going for here, he’s not one tiny bit menacing and he comes across like a spoiled brat with respiratory problems. Btw, did you catch the part that our dear Gugu is in this? What a travesty to waste her talent like that 😦

    1. Ahah I forgot you hated Cloud Atlas. Actually this one is a thousand times worse IMO, there’s absolutely no redeeming quality whatsoever. At least Cloud Atlas still have some interesting performance and thought-provoking themes. Yeah, poor Sean indeed 😦

  11. Haha, I actually liked this mess of a film. 🙂 It was overloaded with style and bad dialogue, but I enjoyed it. Redmayne was atrocious, though, and I actually thought Tatum gave a better performance than Kunis.

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