Movie Review - Jupiter Ascending 3D

I was a huge fan of Cloud Atlas, which was the last film shepherded by Andy and Lana Wachowski, the filmmaking siblings who become world-renown after making The Matrix. Mainly, I thought Cloud Atlas was a cinematography and editing masterpiece, which presented a lot of really great ideas. Within that film, there was a storyline involving a futuristic landscape wherein a defenseless girl is under attack by forces trying to kill or control her and a very fit man does everything he can to protect her, which includes tense chases, high-wire acrobatics and crazy gun-play. Yes, this particular premise is common in action films. Muscular and masculine man protects woman from wild danger is in fact hackneyed, but it seems as if the Wachowskis took that one particular storyline from Cloud Atlas and expanded it into this feature.

The way they expanded it was by crafting four, incredibly long and incredibly intricate, as well as incredibly convoluted, action set-pieces. As I was watching all four, I was reminded of George Lucas' Star Wars, both the originals and prequels. I was reminded of Michael Bay's Transformers, Andrew Stanton's John Carter, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy and Disney's Maleficent (2014). Mostly, it was that the action set-pieces are explosive diarrhea of CGI. Yet, I dare say the Wachowskis trump even George Lucas and Michael Bay in that they go farther and somehow even bigger with the freneticism and the chaos, making it all more of a bombardment of anti-gravity spinning and freefalling with bullets, lasers and debris shooting and swirling everywhere like a swarm of bees. Still, it's more of an insane ballet that the Wachowskis are capable of achieving.

Mila Kunis (Black Swan) stars as Jupiter Jones, a maid living in Chicago with her Russian aunt and uncle immigrants as well as her cousins. Her life changes when she is abducted by aliens and realizes she is a pawn in an intergalactic, real-estate, inheritance struggle and an intergalactic, corrupt corporate scheme.

Channing Tatum co-stars as Caine Wise, a half-human and half-canine hybrid who used to have wings a la Angelina Jolie as Maleficent and was a member of an army until he had a court martial. He now works as a kind of bounty hunter who is hired to protect Jupiter. Tatum is in full, action-star mode, taking it back to his G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra days. The Wachowskis don't give him a lot of lines of dialogue and like his use in Step Up, Magic Mike and to an extent Foxcatcher, the Wachowskis know to keep him shirtless for half the film boasting his beefcake body and they know to keep him in almost, perpetual motion boasting his dancing roots, fighting like a great martial artist and gliding across the screen and in air like a figure skater.

Eddie Redmayne co-stars as Balem Abrasax, an alien lord who rules over part of the galaxy with his two siblings. To Balem and his siblings, planets are properties and humans are cattle or capital. Balem is a corrupt capitalist with mommy issues who utilizes bully or deadly tactics in order to make his deals. This is not unlike his siblings too.

There's an interesting metaphor there about how the wealthy or the one-percent see the lower class. Yet, it's buried in the four, long, action set-pieces. It could just be looked as a fun, ridiculous yarn about what one might fantasize as the explanation of crop circles and reports of alien abduction. Having a wordless, shirtless Channing Tatum being nothing but a buff action star is eye candy. The action set-pieces are eye candy in and of themselves too, but it's mostly surface with the Wachowskis providing some depth, yet it all gets lost. Just sit and watch the wackiest Aurora Borealis and wildest kaleidoscope ever.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for some violence, sequences of sci-fi action and partial nudity.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 5 mins.


  1. Because the Wachowskis always have a sense of grandeur about their projects, Jupiter Ascending feels unabashedly epic, which can make for fascinating viewing.


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