Ever since 1999, fans have been waiting for the Wachowski siblings to bring audiences the same wonder and marvel that was The Matrix. As Speed Racer (2008) and Cloud Atlas (2012) failed to reach these heights, there was fresh hope for Jupiter Ascending; the Wachowski’s latest addition to the sci-fi world starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis. Unfortunately, this is a film that should have been left unmade.
The film centres around Jupiter (Mila Kunis), a maid whose work involves cleaning toilets daily, completely unaware that she is destined to be queen of Earth. Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne), the current King of said planet, sends for Jupiter to be killed by aliens that look like something a five year old would draw. Fortunately, part-wolf warrior Caine (Channing Tatum) soars in in his gravity boots to save her, as he does persistently throughout the rest of the film.
If a film is fun you can accept its silliness as being part of the fun. This film is not fun, it is just inadvertently silly. The planet we are presented with is a bonkers one; members include unimaginative-looking aliens and Balem’s weird monster henchman who fail to be scary. Such members look too silly to be serious but act too serious to be fun. Other directorial choices are also questionable, such as Caine’s dog-ears and his name which I can only guess is a canine pun, and the array of strange and laughable outfits they stick Mila Kunis in.
“Abrasax sends for Jupiter to be killed by aliens that look like something a five year old would draw”
The biggest problem with the film lies in the poorly written script and the complete lack of chemistry between the leads. The lack of chemistry is not the fault of the actors; it is the fault of the writers who do not allow them to do enough with the script. Tatum is infuriatingly underused in this movie. The Jump Street movies proved to us that Tatum can do comedy well, and he comes across as charming and likeable in many of his roles. However, the script gives him nothing to work with and instead he flies about the movie battling his foes in gravity boots, which is entertaining for about ten seconds.
Furthermore, the portrayal of Kunis as a poor maid turned space-queen does not work, as she does not suit this role. Their love story, whilst sweet in theory, is completely unbelievable. There is little interaction before she expresses feelings for him, and as a result the lack of build up makes the moment awkward and random. The exchanges between them are strained as there is no wit or banter about the script. One of the few attempts at humour, after Caine reminds her of his canine qualities and she proclaims longingly ‘I love dogs’, is cringey at most.
Another major flaw is the underdevelopment of many aspects of the film. This begins with Jupiter’s back-story; her father was an astronomer who was killed while her mother was pregnant. Regrettably, due to underdevelopment of the characters we feel little connection to Jupiter, her family or her back-story, and Jupiter’s character does not seem particularly connected to it herself. Moreover, the plot contrivance of her cousin convincing her to sell her eggs, which sets the events of the film in motion, is a bizarre one. The villains of the film Balem (Redmayne) and Titus (Douglas Booth) are also extremely underdeveloped and again a waste of talent. They are not witty, dangerous or sinister – just lacklustre. In addition to this, despite her genes it is unclear why Jupiter is destined for greatness; her character is unremarkable and needs saving by Caine every five minutes.
The movie is a lot of noise and a CGI overload. Despite the fact that some of the visuals were spectacular and made the film more enjoyable to watch, there were scenes that were dragged out for so long that they made some of these great visuals boring. The idea of the earth as a farm for the ruthless leaders of this strange planet was an interesting one, and perhaps if there had been a more intense and imminent threat to the earth in the film it may have been improved.
The romantic leads of the film are both ridiculously beautiful and Channing Tatum is topless for much of it. Unfortunately, this is not enough to make this film worth your time or money.