Jupiter Ascending

Posted by Joel Copling on February 5, 2015

There are certain things for which "Jupiter Ascending" must be commended: that it is based on an original idea devised by sibling writers/directors Andy and Lana Wachowski, for instance, or that it is the type of sci-fi world-building immediately attributable to the galaxy from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Less commendable, then, is what populates that world--characters who are more often than not bland, spouting dialogue that never isn't exposition and partaking in the type of action sequences entirely requisite of the genre. Which reminds me of the other solid aspect of the film: its innovative, incredibly detailed visual effects that are never less than completely photorealistic.

It has a fun premise, at least. Jupiter "Jupe" Jones (Mila Kunis) was born the genetic reincarnation of the Queen Mother of three rival siblings in the Abrasax family. This makes her the rightful heir to the planet Earth, as well as many others, but the eldest of those siblings, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), wants those planets for himself and youngest sibling Titus (Douglas Booth) plans to overtake Jupe's ascent to the throne and her birthright (Middle sibling Kalique, played by Tuppence Middleton, is almost entirely without a single interesting characteristic). Before she even finds out about her destiny as the queen of a thousand planets via endless exposition from former soldier Stinger Apini (Sean Bean), she is saved from contract murder by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a part-wolf part-man who is, of course, Jupe's love interest.

"Jupiter Ascending" might have a pinch of intrigue and a leg-up on most genre competition in this era, what with the fact that it mercifully isn't based on a comic book or graphic novel or young-adult series. Unfortunately, it's also mostly a synthetic sort of pleasure, cold to the touch where it should be impactful and impenetrable with exposition where it should trust its audience to be intelligent about this sort of thing. But it's not a total loss: The action sequences spark with visual urgency, such as a chase between Caine (who has jet-enabled shoes to compensate for wings that have since been cut off) and a trio of assassins who have been ordered to kill Jupe, and the texture of the visual effects is pretty mind-blowing. Thank goodness for the little things and the cushion they provide.

Film Information

Mila Kunis (Jupiter Jones), Channing Tatum (Caine Wise), Sean Bean (Stinger Apini), Eddie Redmayne (Balem Abrasax), Douglas Booth (Titus Abrasax), Tuppence Middleton (Kalique Abrasax), Doona Bae (Razo), David Ajala (Ibis).

Directed and written by Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski.

Rated PG-13 (violence, sci-fi action, suggestive content, partial nudity).

127 minutes.

Released on February 6, 2015.