In movies, many people use the phrase “mindless entertainment,” especially towards action or science-fiction. There’s also braindead entertainment; meaning something so devoid of life, originality and fun that it’s a black hole of visual media. And to think, that black hole is from the same siblings who made action movies cooler?
The Jupiter supposedly “Ascending” is Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a Russian-American immigrant who cleans toilets and houses in Chicago. She hates her life (as she consistently reminds the audience) and often fantasizes about life up in the stars. Fortunately, the stars are about to come down on her as she is saved by a renegade warrior/half-human, half-wolf alien Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) from a group of alien bandits. Caine tells Jupiter that she is the reincarnation of intergalactic royalty and is destined to inherit the Earth. Unfortunately, Earth is in the possession of pucker-faced space royal Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne) and he wants to harvest the beings of Earth into a serum that would make Balem and his siblings younger (as they have done before). Balem wants Jupiter dead, Caine needs Jupiter to realize her destiny and Jupiter needs a minute to let all of this process.
The movie hits the ground running and slows down for nothing. Names and terms are thrown into dialogue with little to no explanation, leaving audience members lost in the translation. The pacing is also piss poor, with either too much space-talk mumbo jumbo or too much CGI action. While the visuals here are impressive (as they are in all Wachowski movies), there’s nearly NOTHING to put in front of them: nothing original, nothing exciting and nothing memorable.
Not even the actors turn in memorable performances (in a good or bad way). Mila Kunis should stick to doing droll comedy because she’s lifeless here. She shows no interest throughout the movie despite being told she’s meant to INHERIT THE EARTH. Put it this way; the most effort and emotion she shows in the movie is when she’s falling from the heights of Chicago in a fight scene and even her cries of help are weak. Channing Tatum is also dead on arrival, despite looking absolutely ridiculous in spiked hair and pointy ears. I would say being a male stripper would be more dignified than Tatum’s appearance and performance here, but that’d be too easy. But the most jaw-dropping form of astonishment here is Eddie Redmayne, the current Best Actor Oscar frontrunner for his work in The Theory of Everything. It’s phenomenal how Redmayne has gone from the role of a lifetime to near career-killer as Balem. His constantly puckered lips (did they give him botox?), his shiny face (is that him or a living wax doll?), his vocal delivery that only consists of low breathing and occasional yelps (what was the transition from Stephen Hawking to this?). It would be one of those “so bad, it’s good” performances if it wasn’t so shocking that a performance like this could come from Redmayne. At least we all know his range as an actor.
Jupiter Ascending is a confusing, bland, heartless and unholy mess. Many have claimed that it looks a lot like Star Wars and I would agree, if they were talking about the prequels (the bad) and not the originals (the good). This movie is like Battlefield Earth if the overacting was replaced with underacting. Writers/directors Andy and Lana Wachowski have hit a huge new low here. Normally they try to have some insightful backing to their gleaming sci-fi movies (see Cloud Atlas and The Matrix), but there is nothing behind, in front, or anywhere near Jupiter Ascending.
Final Verdict: 1 out of 4 stars