Okay, here’s a two-liner for you: Don’t bother watching it. It’s so horrible that it sucks.
Not trying to be judgmental, or overly personal, but there were already signs of its impending doom as far back as early 2014. Warner Bros. pushed back this property from its Mid-July prime summer spot, all the way to early February this year. I’m not doubting Warner Bros. when they claimed that they need more time to prepare for eye-catching visuals, while also promoting their film more effectively, so I guess that argument was invalid. Regardless, pushing it back from one of the biggest moviegoing months of the year to February only shows how Warner Bros. has sorta lost all hope in this one. The Wachowskis definitely hoped to have their comeback film with this one, after their enjoyable but draggy Cloud Atlas failed to ring a bell with moviegoers, despite it’s beautiful score and beautiful production design. Here comes Jupiter Ascending, the next ‘big’ sci-fi property AKA potential franchise kick-off, starring all your favorite stars, like Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in the lead, with the former being a lucrative cash grab. Okay, before diving right in to the review, let’s begin with a really brief plot summary (mainly because I couldn’t catch what’s going on, but whatever). Of course, spoilers ahead. (skip the bolded parts if you still want to read on but not be spoiled)
Jupiter, an average girl who cleans toilets for a living, gets harrassed by some aliens sent by a certain Balem, who wants to claim Earth as one of his prized properties, part of his harvesting trade. Jupiter, who is seemingly unaware of everything that’s going on, gets into two life-threatening situations in the process- once in her home, and once in an egg donation procedure. You see, after the matriarch of the House of Abrasax left the face of this universe, her three children struggled over their respective inheritances, because how else are children supposed to behave? None of them can do anything about it , though, with Jupiter in the way- she is genetically identical to the now-deceased matriarch, and hence has the final call on Earth’s fate. Titus and Balem aren’t happy with that, of course- their greed demands they own the planet, and whereas Balem takes a more straight up approach, Titus takes a back-seat, sending Caine (Tatum) to rescue Jupiter from her brother, but after formally inheriting the planet, of course Titus has been waiting for this- marry and kill. Balem would join the fun too. And sticking to conventions, of course the story ends off with a big ‘happily ever after’.
I hope I summarized the plot well. I hope it was simple, and not in any way perplexing. Sadly, the film isn’t as simple as I put it- though most films die from a lack of meat, and a rather generic storyline which whittles for not standing out, this one’s totally ambitious. Something expected, considering the brains behind it are none other than the Wachowskis, but ambition isn’t always good. Just read my Tomorrowland review here. While focusing on world-building and mythos, which could have easily been stretched into a trilogy, the Wachowskis decided to compress it, in the process neglecting any attempt on having some sort of character development. Let me admit it- that plot summary above was created with the aid of a couple of plot summaries I found online. Ones that required some time to process. In truth, what we have here is a convulated storyline, asking you to remember so much within that short span of time that’s supposed to be providing some sort of entertainment value, rather than edging on complete boredom. It’s so difficult to follow with the mythos, that I found it deeply jarring- the film could have worked, had it bothered making us care about all its feeding us. I didn’t watch a movie to be grilled, I watched it for the relaxation factor.
In the process, the characters are all undercooked. Step one in making a memorable, or even decent movie- make us care about it with lovable characters which we would love to journey with. Despite having a great list of reliable stars backing the production, all of them haven’t had a chance to shine throughout, making these wasted opportunities. The film spent most of its runtime explaining mythos, mostly because Jupiter is a confused, ‘I don’t know what’s happening’ type of girl who demands lots of explanations. Hence, the plot trods along at a rather tepid pace, because of that. Apart from these explanations though, what we are left with is a surface-level plot, of a heroine seeking what she rightfully deserves while facing disapproval from all corners. Nothing else. Mila Kunis only presents her confused state throughout the film, perhaps as baffled as me about how this film got green-lit in the first place. Channing Tatum, despite showing his acting chops in other films, is largely replaceable in this film. Not that his charm is, though his performance only requires him to be a savior and nothing more. No emotions or anything. Perhaps why he isn’t fully human- I guess hybrids/aliens are nothing close to being as emotional as us humans. Even his abs don’t do much here. Just saying.
What we are left with is a largely forgettable affair. One which doesn’t stick in your minds, unlike how Matrix did just that over a decade ago. I guess one’s the charm here, for we are getting nothing close to a repeat of that success- we are left here with what seems to be a mess, one which leaves more questions unanswered. I don’t know what the Wachowskis must be thinking, leaving so many open plot threads, as if a sequel was going to be ‘birthed’ right here. Meanwhile, in terms of visuals, yes, they are remarkable but the overall tone set by the film is rather bleak. Expect visuals which are pleasing to the eyes, though don’t expect any of them to stick with you, especially since they are heavily uninspired. I don’t see why they needed that extra 7 months to rework CGI, when it doesn’t look any different from what marketing showed in early 2014. Yes, the whole film might be CGI-heavy, but regardless, it seems like the filmmakers were merely throwing out whatever action sequences they could to make up for the dull plot. Regardless, let me just say this one line to end off this whole thing- if you want to just waste some time on a hot summer weekend, and happen to chance upon this film, avoid it. Safe yourself from the agony that accompanies this film. It’s going to be a long and tedious 2 hours and 7 minutes. Go catch something else. Something else like Jurassic World or even Terminator: Genisys is more enjoyable.
Here’s my score breakdown:
Character Development: 1/15
VFX/Costume Design/Production Design: 3.5/5
Preliminary Score: 13.5/70 (19.3%)
Revised Score: 12.15/70 (17.4%)
(Note: Revised score is calculated based on personal biasness. Not to confuse you, so here’s some explanation- I will be adding or deducting up to 10% of the given preliminary score based on how much I personally enjoyed the movie. You understand)