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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Jupiter Ascending (2015)


Sorry, aliens. But Earth is kinda lame.

Russian immigrant Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) wakes up at 4:30 in the morning, only to then get to her job where she scrubs toilets for a living as a maid. It’s not an ideal life, but it’s the one she was handed. Which is why when she hears that she is, according to a galactic family, the powerful mother of Earth, she’s excited. Confused, but excited nonetheless. However, her excitement dies down once she relies that one of the members of the galactic family (Eddie Redmayne) wants her dead so that he can take over Earth and be the most powerful member of his family. Jupiter should have no fear, though, because a genetically-spliced ex-military member named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) comes to the rescue with his anti-gravity boots and all. So now, it becomes clear that Jupiter’s life is in danger and that Wise is there to protect her life so that she can reign supreme as Mother Earth, but there’s more political back-stabbing going on behind her back and, even if she doesn’t know it yet, her life still is in danger, no matter what.

There’s a problem with this plot that’s hard for me to fully out-line here. Not because I don’t want to give any of its juiciest secrets away, but because I myself sincerely haven’t the slightest clue as to what was really going on in this film half of the time. Sure, it can be somewhat simple to just label down the “baddies”, from the “goodies”, and work from there, but there’s a bigger problem with Jupiter Ascending that makes it feel like maybe the the Wachowskis were fighting for something a bit deeper here.

Something that yes, may definitely be relevant, but doesn’t quite work well for this movie in the long-run. Let me explain.

"Good evening, Jackie."

“Good evening, Jackie.”

We’re told to believe that Earth, as well as many other planets, are owned by a very powerful family; one that contains two brothers and a sister, none of which seem to fully get along well enough (sort of like real siblings). One sibling wants more control than the others, and because Earth is apparently the most prestigious planet to own, he goes for that one right away. Makes sense, but then the movie starts to get stranger and stranger as it runs along.

This is where I won’t spoil it for most of you out there, except to say that the Wachowskis, as much as I credit them with definitely thinking outside of the box here, as they often do, seem like they’re making most of this up as they go along. It’s hard to figure out who does what, to whom, for what reasons, and where, all inside this universe, which makes it more difficult to not only figure things out, but get invested in the story a whole lot more. There’s many scenes where the Wachowskis want the audience to get up, cheer and be absolutely shocked by whatever has just happened, but because the story is so all-over-the-place at times, it never clicks inside the audience’s head that, “Oh yeah! The good guy’s are winning! Woo-hoo!”.

I’m not saying that we need to be spoon-fed every single detail about a new universe we’re being introduced to, but it would help if there was just a bit more help in figuring certain things out about it.

That said, Jupiter Ascending is a pretty fun movie. Get past all of the problems with the plot and its mechanisms, and believe it or not, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. Which is, yet again, much to the credit of the Wachowskis, because they always seem to know when the right time is to throw an action scene for good measure, wake its audience up, and keep them wanting more. Because not only does the movie look wonderful, but it also feels like its own kind of breed of sci-fi – sure, it’s confusing sci-fi, but it’s one of the rare sci-fi movies to come out in recent time where I didn’t feel like that they ripped so many other movies off, that it’s an absolute wonder how a bunch of lawyers didn’t get called-up.

The Wachowskis know better and for that, the movie moves at a steady-pace that keeps most of its plot easy-to-disregard, especially during the action-bits. One sequence that excited me the most was a high-flying chase in/and around the skies of Chicago, which apparently took six months to shoot, and with good reason. It seems like a lot of time was dedicated to this sequence looked, felt, and came off the screen, and same goes for the rest of the look of the movie.

Now, if only the Wachowskis paid as much as attention to their story, then we’d probably have a bigger winner on our hands here, but sadly we do not. Instead, Jupiter Ascending is serviceable at best. The Wachowskis have a weird, almost off-kilter sense of humor that sometimes translates well into their pieces (see Cloud Atlas), and sometimes doesn’t even show up (see Speed Racer), but here, they seem like they have the right fit for the tone; they don’t throw a joke in there for an easy-gag to liven everything up when it gets too serious. Because the world is as crazy and slap-dash as they created it to be, they’re practically given free reign to throw any wild gags at us that they want. Sometimes, it’s never clear whether the gags they present are meant to be taken seriously, but regardless, it’s always a joy to laugh, look and point at something incredibly ridiculous as this.

Seriously. Who comes up with that kind of stuff?

I am sworn to secrecy on whether or not this dude dies.

I am sworn to secrecy on whether or not this dude dies.

Speaking of such ridiculous-looking beings here, Channing Tatum is saddled with a goofy-attire as half-man, half-wolf and it actually works for him. This is probably because Tatum himself moves and jostles himself around with the same ability of a member of the wolf pack, but because his character seems like a true bad-ass. You can tell that the Wachowskis are going for some sort of Han Solo anti-hero with Caine Wise, and while he’s not nearly that interesting of a character, it’s still fun to watch as C-Tates flies through the sky on those anti-gravity boots, kicking ass, taking names, and still being able to charm even the most heterosexual man out of his boots.

But don’t be fooled, Jupiter Ascending is more of Mila Kunis’ movie than anything, and with good reason – the girl’s downright cute. Kunis’ character acts us, in that everything being taught to her, is being taught to us, as well, and she works well with that role; she’s easily relatable and feels like a normal human being, without being overly-annoying or surprised by this wacky world she’s thrown into. You could make the argument that maybe her character is a tad too comfortable with this new, crazy, and insane world she’s been thrown into, but it’s hard to have any problems with a character played by Kunis, which also made it better to see that she’s not the typical female you see in these kinds of movies. Sure, she needs the help of Caine Wise every so often, but for the most part, she makes her own decisions and, when push comes to shove, takes some matters into her own hands. Right on, girl.

The rest of the cast is an interesting ensemble, even if most of them feel as if they’re hamming it up for the rafters to hear. Oscar-nominated Eddie Redmayne gives a campy performance as Balem, the bad brother of the family that’s trying to go after Jupiter and feels like he’s been plucked right out of a drag show, and thrown right onto our screens, with perfect delight; Douglas Booth is another bro who may, or may not be a baddie, and the mystery surrounding him is a bit of fun; Sean Bean shows up as one of Wise’s old pals and confidantes, and feels like the rough and ragged dude who has seen, and done it all; and randomly enough, in what I’m sure was a role she did before her career was about to take off, Gugu Mbatha-Raw has a bit role as a kick-ass security-guard. It’s small, but man, it made me wish there was more of her to see.

Consensus: The overly-convoluted plot may be hard to get past, but as a sci-fi, action-thriller from the wicked mind of the Wachowskis, Jupiter Ascending is still fun and well-paced enough to make the two hours slip on by. Even if you’re still scratching your head by the end of it all.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Just imagine some Chris Brown playing in the background, and you're set, ladies.

Just imagine some Chris Brown playing in the background, and you’re set, ladies.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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12 responses to “Jupiter Ascending (2015)

  1. lukasfilm February 6, 2015 at 5:04 am

    Ive heard this wonderfully absurd

  2. Tom February 6, 2015 at 6:55 am

    Whoa, was totally not expecting that positive of a rating. I too would call ‘Jupiter Ascending’ “serviceable at best,” so I think I’d put this at a 5.5 on your scale. I had some fun here but the story was really weak. Esp for the Wachowskis. Great review though man.

  3. Nostra February 6, 2015 at 8:18 am

    Agree that the plot could have been better, but I just ran with it and had such a great time watching it. One of those movies that really is worth going to the cinema for 🙂

  4. Lights Camera Reaction February 6, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    A positive review? Wow haha. This film is getting ripped apart.
    However, it does look like a lot of fun so I am looking forward to it.

  5. Keith February 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I don’t know, I really don’t care for the Wachowskis and this thing has looked horrible from the start. But I still may give it a look. Solid review.

  6. Sarah February 6, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Nice review, Dan, sounds like this one’s just about how I predicted it’d be. If I ever see it, it’ll be for Sean Bean’s death scene. 😀

  7. rachelhelenag (The Reel Junkie) February 6, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I get the feeling that the Wachowski’s are going to continue doing what they like regardless of critical opinion. The consensus on ‘Cloud Atlas’ was that it was a “beautiful mess” and we’re hearing the same about Jupiter Ascending. You really have to go with their films and not try too hard to understand them first watch. Great review though. Thanks for sharing!

  8. filmreviews12 February 6, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    This definitely feels like a movie that won’t get most of its final positive attention for another few years. I’m curious as to see how it is for myself.

  9. teny February 7, 2015 at 5:39 am

    The reviews from this part of the world have been positive – it would have had big collection here if the rating in India was not 18+

  10. Three Rows Back February 7, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Hmmm, a more positive review than I was expecting. Fine work Dan.

  11. Nika Gigashvili (@nikashvili) February 8, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Dan, this is the first positive review I’ve read about Jupiter Ascending. As long as I understand your position, I am still extremely disappointed. For me Jupiter Ascending was only about beautiful visuals and that’s it. The rest, was just below average, nothing alike either to The Matrix or Cloud Atlas

  12. Evan Crean October 5, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    I also had almost no clue about what was going on in Jupiter Ascending, Dan. I think that the Wachowskis had to cut a lot out of the movie for the studio and that somewhere there’s a much longer version that makes a lot more sense. As you say, there is some fun to be had though. I thought the film looked beautiful and had some pretty gangbuster action setpieces. Those didn’t lift my grade as high as yours however.

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