“We might have stumbled into a war with one of the most powerful dynasties in the universe,” says Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered warrior to Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) who he just saved from some evil aliens in the science fiction adventure film Jupiter Ascending.
Jupiter dreams of the stars and of a life other than the one she has: a life as a maid cleaning other people’s houses and bathrooms with her family from sunrise to sunset. When Jupiter goes to a medical clinic to sell her eggs for some much-needed cash, she’s completely unaware that the doctors and nurses she encounters are actually aliens in disguise who’ve been sent to Earth to terminate her. Fortunately, Caine – an alien charged with keeping her safe – comes to her rescue, saving her from death multiple times during a long and chaotic chase and firefight that takes place on the streets of Chicago and in the skies above the Windy City.
Once outside the city, Caine explains to Jupiter that Earth is just one of many planets throughout the entire universe that has intelligent life. It’s owned by Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne), a powerful Lord who sees her as a threat to his throne and wants her dead. Jupiter insists it all has to be a mistake and that she’s no one important, but Caine explains the Abrasax family rarely make mistakes and she is in grave danger. Caine seeks out an old friend named Stinger (Sean Bean) for help in protecting Jupiter, and Stinger reveals Jupiter’s genetic signature marks her as royalty and the next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that just might reshape the balance of the cosmos.
Written and directed by the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix trilogy), Jupiter Ascending is an overblown science fiction adventure that gets bogged down by its own mythology and suffers from incredibly stilted acting. Mila Kunis delivers a mediocre performance as Jupiter, the Cinderella of the universe, literally cleaning and being taken for granted by her family and then being saved by a mighty hunter/warrior only discover she is the Queen of the galaxy. She gave a better performance as the Wicked Witch of the West in Oz: The Great and Powerful, another film in which she was horribly miscast.
Channing Tatum delivers a one-dimensional performance as Caine, Jupiter’s protector and…no big surprise here…her love interest. His natural charm, wit and charisma are absent in this convoluted, video game-looking sci-fi bomb, as he’s never allowed to show any emotion (hello Mr. Spock, Jr) and the chemistry between he and Kunis is non-existent. Sean Bean is completely wasted as Stinger, Caine’s former commanding officer and friend who’s really only in the film to deliver all the boring backstory about the three bad guys and the “true beginning of Earth’s past”…yawn. But without a doubt the worst performance is given by Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne as Balem Abrasax, the villain who wants Jupiter dead. It’s ridiculous and incredibly uneven as Redmayne portrays Balem as a prissy tyrant who whispers his lines with sporadic moments of screaming thrown in for no apparent reason.
The special effects and space crafts are unimpressive, stealing some of the look and design from other science fiction classics including Star Wars and Star Trek. The action scenes are extremely chaotic and at times such a blur that the audience can’t follow who is shooting who, not that that matters in the long run as the plot is ridiculous.
Melodramatic, boring, and basically a giant mess, Jupiter Ascending is a science fiction flop which should never have been launched into production let alone into movie theaters.
Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sequences of sci-fi action, some suggestive content and partial nudity
Running time: 127 minutes
Theatrical release: February 6, 2015
– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
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