by George Wolf
Didn’t we see the first trailer for Jupiter Ascending sometime around 1998?
It seems like quite a long journey toward an opening weekend, and the film is such a ridiculous mess, you wonder why they just didn’t get it over with and take their lumps long before now. There’s only so much you can fix in post-production.
Writers/directors Andy and Lana Wachowski, creators of The Matrix trilogy, again focus on an alternate reality that Earthy humans can’t even fathom.. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) gets hip to the news pretty fast, when the swashbuckling Caine (Channing Tatum) swoops in on his gravity boots and saves her from alien assassins who’ve been posing as fertility clinicians.
Jupiter has been marked for death by the evil galactic ruler Balem (Eddie Redmayne), because she’s the only thing standing in the way of his long-standing plan to “harvest” Earth and everyone on it. It seems that Jupiter is first in line to inherit her planet, a fact even she can’t doubt when a swarm of bees seems to fall under her command. Jupiter is told “bees are genetically designed to recognize royalty,” and that she is, in, fact, a Queen.
Your move, Beyoncé!
The Wachowski’s intent seems to be a modern-day Star Wars, but they focus too much on the visuals while their big yarn becomes a bigger yawn. Impressive starships, sparkling costumes and an array of other-worldly creatures can’t hide the sophomoric storytelling at work here. The convoluted plot is thrown at us in hyper speed, as if pages of script were tossed aside to make room for the next battle sequence.
Kunis and Tatum bring one-note performances to their one-note roles, but Redmayne’s effort backfires badly. Though he’s proven himself a gifted actor, here he’s pushed to laughable levels of “bad guy” theatrics. Seriously, people will laugh.
Of course, Redmayne may get the last one with a best actor Oscar in just a few weeks, and Jupiter Ascending will quickly settle into the role it has earned: a bad memory.