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Film Review: A mix-up

Special effects can’t make up for a messy story.


By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Saturday 14 February 2015, 01:00PM


Film: Jupiter Ascending

3 STARS

While the visuals are consistently stunning in Jupiter Ascending, especially during the action sequences, it’s difficult to follow exactly who and what is going on. Carried by fast-moving aircrafts and jet-powered skate boots, the film is ultimately a beautiful mess.

But this is Jupiter Ascending and it doesn’t care how much focus it lacks or where the story goes. The film tries to become a bit of everything: Brazil and Cloud Atlas but with a side of Blade Runner and a hint of The Matrix. Yes, the Wachowski’s bring a “wow” factor that is hard to beat, though the story needs a fresh coat of clarity and consistency.

Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, a Russian emigre who cleans toilets for a living with her mother and aunt. While trying to make some extra cash on the operating table, she is rescued from certain death by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a half-dog, half-human former legionaire turned bounty hunter. This won’t be Jupiter’s first time getting saved.

For the rest of the film, Jupiter learns that she’s a player in an intergalactic family squabble in which three siblings – Balem, Titus and Kalique of the House of Abrasax – fight over earth, one of the most universe’s most prized possessions. At various points, we see Jupiter dealing with intergalactic bureacrats, running away from explosions and even fall in love while wrapping her head around her potential royal roots.

Within the first third of the film, we meet Stinger Apini (Sean Bean), whose banter with Wise provides much of the highlights of the film. The history between these two characters is what ultimately drives the story forwards through the thick mud of lethargic plot points. The Wachowski’s created a world full of interesting storylines, it’s just a shame that they chose Jupiter Jones’ over Stinger and Wise’s history. The film picks up everytime both of them are on screen sharing tidbits of a past that is far too interesting to gloss over.

In addition, there’s a lot going on with the alien royal family: Eddie Redmayne plays an older brother who is withering away and serves as the main antagonist. Meanwhile his two siblings are charmers who treat Jupiter as one of their own – but everyone has a dark side.

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Kunis plays Jupiter as a gullible and naïve “damsel in distress” for much of the film and each sibling taps into that sense to get what they “seemingly” want. That’s when a certain character is cue’d in to save the day, rinse and repeat. In the end, the audience is left with a shiny film that lacks depth but has the characters, setting and visuals to become a winner. But it’s about the story, Lebowski.

Given the Wachowski’s penchant for sci-fi world-building and grandeur, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jupiter Ascending 2 in theaters sooner than later. Hopefully it would go light on the Jupiter (Jones).

Jupiter Ascending

Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Tupper Middleton, Douglass Booth and Sean Bean.

DIRECTOR: Lana and Andy Wachowski

RUNNING TIME:127 minutes

 

THREE STARS

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