JUPITER ASCENDING Movie Review
When a directing team as talented as the Wachowskis are given an enormous budget and free reign to create an original science fiction concept with no strings attached except for their own creative vision,it is mind boggling and heartbreaking that Jupiter Ascending is such a horrible mess. Aside from the incredible production design that takes it’s inspiration from Renaissance architecture and Gothic art more often than classic science fiction pulp, absolutely nothing in this movie works in any kind of engaging way. What I find to be incredibly frustrating is how long this movie feels. And I still feel like there’s so much missing from character development to make a complete narrative.
Mila Kunis is terribly miscast as Jupiter Jones, a character unhappy with her life, with no aspirations to do anything about it until she becomes the damsel in distress that serves as the exposition and essentially an uninspired rehash of the chosen one concept from The Matrix Trilogy. Jupier’s journey is basically the formula of combining Odysseus from the Odyssey and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, which would be fine if the characters she encountered were interesting or empathetic. Her family that the audience is supposed to care about are slapstick caricatures. I honestly rooted for them to meet their end rather than stay on screen. I respect that the Wachowskis don’t want to be slaves to a particular tone throughout their careers, but their attempt at comedy falls flat along with everything else.
Titus Abrasax seemed like he could have been a fun character in concept, as an intergalactic Hugh Hefner type, his spaceship is a cross between a Gothic cathedral and the Playboy Mansion, unfortunately Douglas Booth doesn’t brings any life to this character at all. Channing Tatum has charisma as Caine, but the most interesting thing the script has to offer him is his awesome gravity boots. Eddie Redmayne deserves credit for actually going all in with his extremely campy character Balem, delivering most of his lines in a congested whisper and exploding into tantrums of hilarious rage. If Jupiter Ascending didn’t treat all these characters like blank avatars that serve as expository dialogue dumps, perhaps this fully realized world would actually have been worth investing in.
Obviously some liberties were taken to edit down the script, which was over 600 pages long at one point. I can only imagine a great portion that was removed from the story could have possibly salvaged what ended up on the screen. Up until this point the Wachowskis have proven that they have a strange brand of complexity that’s often engaging and intellectually stimulating. I truly hope that studio interference was more the cause for this misfire than having to admit that these talented siblings are losing their touch. For now let’s just be hopeful and assume this is a mistake they can immediately bounce back from.