Jupiter Ascending is an fascinating film, as Wachowski films tend to be, but not necessarily for the reason they would hope. Despite its best intentions regarding the origins of human beings and our various mythologies, the movie is going to lead to many discussions on what, if anything, was missing from the finished product.
The movie feels as though huge chunks of the narrative are simply not there. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that a half hour or more had been cut from the film. The best way to describe Jupiter Ascending is to compare it to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It feels like an awkward adaptation of an excellent YA novel.
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a house-cleaner living a pretty crappy life. Her father died before she was born. Her very large extended family treats her like garbage and she doesn’t really see any way out. That’s when aliens try to kill her.
Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) is human/wolf hybrid “splice” who rescues her and introduces her to the realities of life. Earth is just one of thousands of planets inhabited by humans (or human-like species) and owned by massive corporations. And Jupiter is the heir to one of those corporate fortunes. This kicks off a plot of political intrigue set against the backdrop of crazy-ass space battles, giant lizard aliens and some severely Freudian family issues.
I’m sure the whole thing would have been much easier to follow if I’d read the book first. Oh, there was no book? This is all there is? Then why do so many things happen for seemingly no reason? Why is there so goddamn much expository dialog? It’s like they let The Architect write the lines for all the villains.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to recommend about the movie. It is unquestionably gorgeous, with sets and costumes and alien designs that are just amazing. The space battles are exactly as epic you’d expect in a space opera directed by the Wachoskis, and holy crap is Channing Tatum roller-derbying around on hover boots an absolute blast.
At the end of the day, a failure from the Wachoskis is still more interesting than a success from any number of other filmmakers. But make no mistake, this is a failure.
I give it 4 BEES out of 10.