Jun 8, 2015

[Movies] Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Because of my commitment to this blog, I end up watching movies that I don't particularly want to see. I need a steady stream of new review material to keep this site running and thus out of love for you mysterious readers, I watch movies that are bound to be crappy just to review them.

Obviously I did not have high hopes for Jupiter Ascending despite the involvement of the Wachowskis of The Matrix fame. And as much as The Matrix trilogy was certainly a key pop culture moment that a lot of us will remember for the rest of our lives, the later parts of the story were certainly rather dizzying.

But one can't deny giving in to the hype around this movie primarily because of their involvement and the rather dazzling trailers released prior to the movie. We could see that the movie was designed to offer the allure of spectacular special effects and all that fun stuff. But again there remained the fears of a weird story that wouldn't pan out too well in the end, and I feel like the movie still falls into this pattern.

Synopsis: Jupiter Ascending is a 2015 science fiction movie written, directed and produced by Lana and Andy Wachowski. Their last feature-length production was Cloud Atlas back in 2012.

At the center of this story is Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who is the daughter of Maximilian Jones (James D'Arcy) and Aleksa (Maria Doyle Kennedy). Her father was killed in a robbery and thus Aleksa raises Jupiter on her won with help from the rest of her family. What is unknown to Jupiter is that she is somehow genetically similar (or in fact the same) as the dead matriarch of some alien race, thus making her somehow the rightful "owner" of Earth. Before the agents of a rival faction can kidnap her, she is saved by the transhuman ex-soldier Caine (Channing Tatum)

The bigger picture is that Earth and many other planets were actually established by this greater interstellar empire ruled by races we can only term as alien. But with the death of the matriarch of the ruling noble house, her three children now squabble over the empire. These are Balim (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth). Caine is an agent working for Titus in order to help him achieve his efforts to dismantle the youth serum trade, which was going to use Earth as source for the serum.

First, the visuals of this movie are definitely amazing. More than just being another Matrix-style movie or something, the Wachowskis certainly took things to another level, even beyond what we saw in Cloud Atlas. I guess if there's one thing to sell you on when it comes to this movie, it's definitely the visuals. The Wachowskis certainly have a unique vision of how to bring the future to life and it's pretty dazzling.

But on the flip side, he movie is rather droll in almost all other aspects. Casting was rather lackluster given Mila Kunis being all flat and emotionless in this movie and Channing Tatum being less interesting with clothes on. Eddie Redmayne is barely intelligible in all of his scenes and Sean Bean, surprisingly, doesn't die. Where are we to go with all this?

The plot doesn't get that much better since the whole inheritance based on winning the genetic lottery seems like a pretty random way to determine royal succession. Throw in the random transhuman characters who have been spliced with various clearly Earth-based animals all make for a very strange setting. And given how the ownership of entire planets is determined by some far off alien royalty all doesn't make too much sense.

Then you have the fact that the various factions in this movie are determined to have Jupiter for themselves instead of just trying to kill her to eliminate her as a competitor for succession. And while it's certainly valid enough for factions to try and marry her to gain access to her birthright or something along those lines, it's so much work! Given how much property damage they seem to be willing to in pursuit of her, they might as well just killed her to get things over with.

And you have a perfect race of secret aliens who actually rule the Earth but they go to silly lengths to ensure no one remembers their incursions by repairing all damage done and that no one remembers seeing their little fights. What kind of a plot device is that? As much as it might have been interesting to try to present the angle that the aliens have been living among us right to this very day. this was not the way to go about it, nor did it add anything of significance to the overall story.

Jupiter Ascending is a beautiful hot mess that doesn't really have a clear voice of its own and instead seems to echo different stories and movies that have come before it. And while I enjoy a nice little intergalactic bureaucracy reference to movies like Brazil, little nods like that don't really make for a a successful movie on their own. So I can only rate the movie as 2 physically ridiculous anti-gravity shoes out of a possible 5.

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