'Jupiter Ascending' Review: A Beautiful Spectacle
Jupiter Ascending continues the Wachowski siblings' tradition of visually striking and ambitious storytelling with aplomb. A space opera with some obvious influences from the Star Wars films, Jupiter Ascending manages to provide the audience with something spectacular to look at while providing an interesting, albeit overly expansive, story.
The story is a bit overwhelming at first; Earth is one of millions of planets being "seeded" by corporations, led by the royal families of the universe. The Earth belongs to the Abrassax family, with three heirs, Balem, Titus, and Kalique, vying for power. Planets are harvested once the population exceeds sustainability for the creation of a life extending elixir. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is the rightful owner of Earth as she is a genetic recurrence of the matriarch of the Abrassax family. Her newfound status makes her a key target, which is why Caine (Channing Tatum) is sent to protect her. This may seem like a lot of moving parts, and the complexity of plot is arguably the biggest hindrance to the film. Trying to balance all three of the Abrassax family while introducing a whole set of cosmic rules and guidelines forces the audience to keep up, but the film could benefit from a less dense narrative. To the Wachowski's credit, their world building is incredible and highly detailed. While influences from other sci-fi films (specficially Star Wars) are apparent, the setting provided in the film is wholly unique and memorable.
The visuals are absolutely incredible. Every new ship and locale in the film is interesting to look at. Dust particles swirl in space, ships teleport million of light years, cities built in the middle of Jupiter's red eye are just smattering of the engrossing visuals in the film. The action sequences are very well shot as well. A chase in Chicago takes you through the skies of the windy city to the depths of bays underneath, all while keeping you glued to the screen as this all takes place at a breathtaking pace.
A key aspect of a successful sci-fi film is introducing cool ideas, especially technological, that allow us to see fantastical things brought to life. The technology introduced in Jupiter Ascending is interesting; specifically Caine's gravity boots. The performances are a mixed bag. Mila Kunis' performance as Jupiter is adequate, serving as the audience in the film; however, one of the most polarizing performances of the film is Eddie Redmayne's Balem character. In an almost grating whisper-talk voice, he chews scenery every time he's on screen, and his performance is borderline "so bad it's good" territory. No one else gives a particular memorable performance, but they are all solid, although Sean Bean's Stinger character is a particular standout.
While not reaching the heights of Cloud Atlas or The Matrix, Jupiter Ascending is something wholly new that explores some interesting themes and has some of the most striking visuals in recent memory. Combined with the film's strong score and engaging, although complex story, Jupiter Ascending breaks 2015 in as the first true blockbuster of the year and is absolutely worth a ride with.
Final Say: Watch It