Sunday, February 08, 2015



From IMDB:


From the streets of Chicago to the far-flung galaxies whirling through space, "Jupiter Ascending" tells the story of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who was born under a night sky, with signs predicting she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people's houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along-her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos. (C) Warner Bros

Ratings: 6.1/10 from 5,416 users Metascore: 40/100  

TOMATOMETER 22% | Average Rating: 4/10
Reviews Counted: 146 | Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 114

Critics Consensus: Pleasing to the eye but narratively befuddled, Jupiter Ascending delivers another visually thrilling misfire from the Wachowskis.

AUDIENCE SCORE 52% liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5 | User Ratings: 71,588

Cyberpunk looking mercenaries... Pretty cool looking actually. And Bae Doona is back in a Wachowski movie. ©Warner Bros

Jupiter Ascending is a Space Opera...

So this is the latest from the directing sibling team of Andy and Lana Wachowski since their collaboration with Tom Tykwer on Cloud Atlas in 2012 (which was brilliant) and their first major film on their own since Speed Racer in 2008 (which was horrible). Of course, The Wachowski's are most famous for their Matrix Trilogy which started off pretty good and ended not so good except for the visuals and the battle scenes.

So what do they have in store for us with this self proclaimed Space Opera? (WARNING SPOILERS TO FOLLOW AHEAD!! SERIOUSLY!! SKIP TO THE END TO READ MY THOUGHTS ABOUT IT)

So bees can instinctively tell if you're royalty. It would be interesting if it worked in real life. ©Warner Bros

So what is this story about? Well, based of that little synopsis up there provided by Warner Bros you probably have some idea of a grand adventure where the average girl becomes something more, something greater with the help of a mercenary. If you've seen the trailer you'll get the same but now you have what looks to be a pretty cool looking movie what with all the spaceships, fantastic battle scenes and all that. Well, you wouldn't be wrong. It is visually very cool looking. But what about the story? 

Those gravity boots are pretty cool and gives this movie and Channing Tatum's character a pretty cool gimmick and fighting style. ©Warner Bros

It starts off in Russia where you hear Mila Kunis's voice narrating the story of how her parents meet and fall in love. Then we skip to nine months later when her parents are in their home and sort of discussing what to name the baby. Dad wants to name her Jupiter, mother says, over her dead body. While they're discussing their front door is kicked down and armed thugs barge in with one man yelling at them to give up all their money while the other men rob them of anything that looks valuable. Dad tries to stand in between the thug and his pregnant wife but in the scuffle and the screaming and yelling he gets shot in the stomach. The thugs run out and dad dies. So basically you have the tragic death of a loved one which is what every superhero character has in their past. 

There are lots of silly looking aliens in this movie. There's even one that looks like an elephant, big ears and nose and all. ©Warner Bros

So now mom is depressed and withdraws from the world. We also hear her say that mother keeps company with only her sister. A little later, for whatever reason, we see mother and sister traveling on container ship in a container and mother going into labor with Jupiter. Why they're traveling this way and why just when she's heavy with child seems a little odd. What's even odd is that they're obviously traveling illegally but for some reason is allowed to have their container open and allowed to have a brazier to cook and keep themselves warm. I guess some smugglers allow this. I don't know. 

Lots of sexy outfits in this movie. Even the dudes outfits are pretty revealing. ©Warner Bros

Now it's much later and Jupiter is much older and working with mum and aunt as housekeepers. She doesn't like her life. You hear her say this quite a few times. You also see her try on the outfits of the owners of the houses she cleans. In between all this you meet the Abraxas siblings, Balem the oldest, Kalique the middle sister and Titus the youngest, they are the heirs of the Abraxas dynasty and the biggest most powerful family in the universe apparently. These three are sort of in competition with each other to gain a bigger share of the market as well as getting their hands on a piece of the inheritance that their mother left up in the air when she passed on. You also meet Caine Wise played by Channing Tatum, a genomengineered lycantant, sort of a human-wolf genetically engineered hybrid who breaks into a fertility clinic looking for something, as he makes his exit he's attacked by a team of mercenaries.

The colorist in this movie did a pretty fantastic job. Helping along the visual effects perfectly. ©Warner Bros

Meanwhile back on earth Jupiter is unhappy with her life and broke. She tries to ask for an advance on her pay from her uncle who manages the jobs she and her mother and aunt do but it doesn't work out. She wants to get a telescope. So she agrees to a deal that her cousin cooks up, to sell her eggs to a fertility clinic. 

For some reason the way this statue looks made me think it was made out of butter. ©Warner Bros

It's the next day and she's on her job cleaning up the room of a client that she's friendly with. She's confiding in Jupiter about a man in her life and Jupiter gives her thoughts and then goes into the closet to pick an outfit for her client when suddenly she hears a sound in the other room. She peeks in and sees aliens walking around her now floating client and doing things. She takes out her phone and takes a picture but just then her phone rings. The aliens spot her and rush but that's where the scene ends. The next scene picks up just when she's about to take a peek but now all she sees is what you would expect if the aliens didn't show up, the client sitting around talking. But Jupiter senses somethings off. 

There's a fair bit of flipping around that Channing Tatum does in this movie. ©Warner Bros

Now it's a few days later and her cousin is convincing her again of the little deal he has set up. She agrees to it of course and heads off to the fertility clinic. The thing is she's put her clients name as her own, the same client that the aliens probed earlier. While she's being put under she panics and her panic proves perfectly timed as it turns out the clinic's staff are actually aliens in disguise. Just as she's going unconscious Caine blows in and kills everyone and rescues her.   

 This man plays a very good baddie. Looking forward to seeing him play more baddies actually.
©Warner Bros

She recovers much later in a tower block that's still under construction and Caine fills her in a little on the situation. Just as they're about to be picked up by the people that sent Caine the ship that they're supposed to travel on is shot to smithereens. They escape in the most spectacular fashion and have a dogfight in and around Chicago that destroys a fair bit of the city. When they make their escape out of the city Jupiter is of course concerned that all of the world will know what happened but Caine tells her that no one will know, that the damage is being repaired and the memories of those that saw it will be wiped. Those that don't get wiped will have fantastic stories that no one will believe as they won't have proof. Sort of what happens with real people who say they've had alien or supernatural encounters. 

 The design of everything in this movie is very cool. Just look at that spaceship.
©Warner Bros

Caine takes her to the outskirts to a home of someone he knows, someone he's worked with. When they reach there he gets into a fight with him. Another thing that happens is also the bees that have built their hives all over the place including on the house itself start swarming around Jupiter. They stop fighting and the man Caine comes to meet Stinger Apini, kneels down in front of Jupiter and addresses her as 'Your Majesty'. The reason for it as he explains it is that bees recognize royalty instinctively. Okay... 

 I wonder if women will take ideas from this wedding scene for their own after watching this.
©Warner Bros

Anyway, their reunion doesn't last long when the mercenaries track them down and trash the place and Jupiter is taken to Kalique. While with Kalique we learn a little about why the Abraxas is trying to either kill her or kidnap her, it turns out that she's the exact gene for gene copy of their mother, sort of a reincarnation but they call it a recurrence. We also find out that these humans from space are pretty much immortal, Kalique herself well over 14,000 years old. Meanwhile, Caine managed to hitch a ride on the mercenaries ship and has been tracking Jupiter all this time. Caine rescues Jupiter and they are taken in by the Aegis who are like the cops of the universe. The Aegis help her sort out her new identity and all that belongs to her. 

 Looks like a bird doesn't it? ©Warner Bros

Just when things are all settled with the legality of her new identity, Titus shows up and invites her to his place. Caine advises otherwise but she goes anyway. While with Titus she learns more about the harvest which we hear about early on when we first meet the Abraxas siblings. You see earth was deliberately seeded by the Abraxas in order to create a suitable type of human, once that is achieved and the numbers are right these humans are harvested and turned into a pure essence of sorts which is then used to extend the lives of the rich like the Abraxas. Titus tells her all this and claims that he's trying to stop all this and that their mother also tried to stop this horrible enterprise. But to this he must get ownership of earth which at the moment would fall under Balem's control if it wasn't for Jupiter being the same exact copy of their mother. So to this he proposes that they get married which would result in him gaining control of all that she owns. This is of course all a lie. 

 Balem's bodyguard all wear that head gear which makes them look like South American wrestlers or like Aztec or Mayan masks. I can't tell which but it does look weird. ©Warner Bros

During their marriage ceremony, Caine and Stinger mount a rescue attempt. What follows is a pretty intense and visually impressive battle scene. Lots of things happening. Meanwhile to gain leverage Balem sends his men down to earth to kidnap Jupiter's family. When Jupiter reaches home to find it in a mess she also finds Balem's right hand man (who also looks like a mouse) waiting for her with instructions to invite her back with him to meet with Balem. She goes of course to Caine's disappointment. 

 That's what the humanoid androids look like. Sort of cool actually. ©Warner Bros

Now with Balem, she's threatened with signing over all her rights over to Balem in order to save her family. But Jupiter realizes that that would be a mistake. She refuses. Just then Caine makes an explosive entrance in order to save her. What happens next is a very long and quite impressive battle and rescue scene. When the movie ends Jupiter and Caine are back in Chicago, Caine has his wings back (literally) and they go off flying around the Chicago skyline in broad daylight. The end. 

Bae Doona is in this one too. I think she's a favorite of the Wachowski's. ©Warner Bros

Does Jupiter Ascending ascend to greater heights? 

Like I said earlier on this is The Wachowski's first major film on their own since Speed Racer and their collaboration with Tom Tykwer on Cloud Atlas. But most probably don't remember them for those two. Most of us remember them for their work on the Matrix Trilogy. The things they did in the Matrix Trilogy are still being used and re-used in a lot of sci-fi films today. The Wachowski's are without a doubt visual and special effect innovators and it shows in Jupiter Ascending. This movie is visually incredible. Just about every scene looks really good. The background designs, the alien environment and planets and the large spaceships are just incredibly detailed and unique in their looks.

And then there's the battle scenes. The style and choreography in both the hand to hand combat and the aerial dogfights is very cool and intense. In the hand to hand and melee combats between Caine and the baddies because of his gravity boots they're just different and unique. And in the aerial dogfights because of how the ships are constructed it just looks very different. You're eyes are just busy trying to take it all in. There really isn't anything like it in previous summer block busters in the sci-fi genre. This movie really is a visual treat. 

 There's much too little screen time with that big lizard dude. ©Warner Bros

Where it falls short is in the story. It really isn't anything special or different. You've seen it all before, maybe not all of it in the same movie but you have seen it all before. The other thing that this movie lacks in a way is focus in terms of the tone of the movie. Is Jupiter Ascending supposed to be serious or silly? I can understand and accept that it needs to have a few humorous moments but right in the middle during the scenes where Jupiter goes through the paperwork and bureaucracy of getting her identity and inheritance sorted out there's an obvious (to me) tribute to A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It tries to be silly and what with all the aliens and the quirky nature of their stations and their equipment it is but then it doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the movies tone. The rest of it feels very dark and serious. 

In terms of the performance delivered everyone does a decent job. No complaints in general. I really didn't expect much from Kunis or Tatum. They did a pretty good job. The one performance I was truly impressed with is Eddie Redmayne who plays Balem Abrasax. He was very good. He was perfectly dark, sinister and manic as Balem. 

 So in this scene there's Balem's right hand man who looks like a mouse in 18th century clothes, a humanoid lizard with wings and bunch of aliens with weird legs. And they're all watching a hologram recording. Sci-fi enough for you? ©Warner Bros

All in all, this for me was a good movie or more specifically a good summer blockbuster type movie. It has all the elements required for a summer blockbuster. It takes you for a fun and fantastic ride without trying to overwhelm you mentally with a deep and complicated story. It's face paced and full of action. And of course it has all the usual Wachowski trademark all the way down to the using humans as a resource for something. I wonder why they keep doing that. 

Anyway, I give this a movie a decent 3 out of 5. Go watch it if you're craving for a decent action movie. Go watch it if you want to be blown away by visual effects. Go and have fun. Don't go watch it expecting a deep and satisfying storyline. Although don't be surprised if they announce a sequel to this because it reeks of a possible sequel in my opinion. Also, it was nice to see Sean Bean in a role that doesn't die immediately or at all as far as I can tell.


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