(Warner Bros, Village Road Show Pictures, 2015)
Jupiter Ascending is the latest movie from the Wachowskis, who brought you The Matrix and Cloud Atlas. Yeah, those guys. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a young woman who suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic conflict that threatens our entire planet. Yeah, it’s one of those movies.
But as space operas go, you could do a lot worse than Jupiter Ascending. The movie is visually lush, and transitions seamlessly from Earth to Jupiter to the edges of the Universe. The problem is that the main character, Jupiter, is little more than a passive victim who finds herself a pawn in a galactic family feud. I kept wanting for her to come up with a clever idea that would suddenly save the world as we know it. But that would be unrealistic.
Alas, Jupiter, who spends most of her life cleaning toilets in Chicago with her Russian mother, isn’t cut out for anything but waiting for someone like Channing Tatum to sweep her off her feet, taking her away from the life she hates. So along comes Channing Tatum. Ah, Channing, I hardly knew ya. With your white hair, beard, your pointy ears and especially your ultra-cool shoes, no wonder you captured Jupiter’s heart.
I hope you like shoes, because Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) has a pair of shoes that steals every single scene. Most of the time, he skates on them through midair like he’s on a pair of levitating roller blades. Personally, I think Caine could rule the galaxy, just by running a shoe franchise. Instead, it seems to belong to three siblings, grown children of the dead Queen Abrasax who seem to hate each other.
But the two brothers and their sister must want Jupiter Jones more than shoes, because they spend half the movie (make that all of the movie) trying to get her on their side. For some reason Jupiter doesn’t quite trust them. Maybe because they’re just creepy. OK, to be fair, almost everyone in this movie gives us the creeps. Maybe it’s the weird makeup (see Cloud Atlas). You know how British actors sometimes portray their characters as having bad teeth, watery stares, limpid sneers and red noses from too much ale? Yeah that kind of makeup.
Anyway, in a predictable turn of events, Jupiter realizes she can’t trust these weirdos. Because that’s what this movie is all about. It’s about trust, especially not trusting decadent weirdos. Should Jupiter trust this killing soldier who seems to be loyal, and is actually Channing Tatum, or the Abrasax clan who all give us the creeps?
The rest of Jupiter Ascending rolls along like the first half, except now Jupiter knows who to trust. Except she wonders if Channing Tatum loves her, or just wants his old army job back. I think there are about two five-minute segments where Jupiter isn’t being saved by Channing amidst amazing special effects and breathtaking scenes of major destruction. Yeah, Space Opera.
At least we have a happy ending, in that after two hours the movie is actually over. How it all gets resolved I’m not sure, but that’s the kind of movie it is. Jupiter Ascending will keep you on the edge of your seat until you realize your backside hurts, after which you’ll lean back and wait for another action scene which comes along maybe every 30 seconds. Rated PG-13 for relentless scenes of action and a paucity of sense. Enjoy!