Despite reading Kirsten Acuna’s scathing review of “Jupiter Ascending” and other dire press (22% on Rotten Tomatoes), I decided to see the movie this weekend. After all, I take pride in appreciating science fiction that many don’t like, such as “Lucy,” “John Carter,” “In Time,” and “Repo Men.” And I didn’t just see the movie: I shelled out $US22.50 on Fandango for Regal’s premium RPX 3D screening in Times Square so I could see the $US175-million Warner Bros. feature at its best.
Oh what a horrible mistake I made. Written and directed by The Wachowskis, “Jupiter” is so bad it made me want never to go out to the movies again.
The plot is ridiculous, but it’s the inept and tedious script that seals the deal.
See it’s only ten minutes into the movie that we meet the ancient human aristocrat siblings from another planet who have been harvesting rejuvenating lifeblood from species on planets around the universe and who plan to do the same to planet Earth, which they actually seeded with humans after having first wiped out the dinosaurs.
After that ham-fisted exposition, it’s no surprise when earthling cleaning lady Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who is introduced with an equally ham-fisted voiceover about her parents, encounters aliens and wolf-human hybrid Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) and gets swept up in an adventure. She doesn’t seem surprised either — and as a Kunis fan I’m going to do her the credit of blaming the script and not her acting.
Compare that to exposition in “The Matrix,” which is the one good movie I’ve seen by The Wachowskis. That movie grabs you from the first scene, as protagonist Neo (Keanu Reeves) receives a mysterious message and is sent running for his life, and there’s a dramatic buildup before he takes the plunge and learns the shocking truth about the world (that humans are being harvested by, in that case, machines). “Jupiter” treats a comparable plot with the drama of a Wikipedia page.
The Wachowski’s latest doesn’t get any better from there. Jones, after learning she is the genetic second coming of one of those ancient aristocrats, suffers through boring and repetitive encounters with all of her new family members, as they pretend to be her friends and she almost falls for it.
We are also treated to a cornfield showdown that feels like a knockoff of “Looper“; space rogue hijinks that feel like a knockoff of “Guardians of the Galaxy“; a Steampunk bureaucracy that feels like a knockoff of “Snowpiercer” or “Doctor Who“; and a wedding that feels like a knockoff of “The Princess Bride.”
Meanwhile, Wise is not developed at all, and the only significance of his wolf splicing seems to be pointed ears and stoicism. This humorless character is a waste of Tatum’s comedic talent and charm, and it makes for a painfully awkward romance with Jones.
Wise: “I have more in common with dogs than I do with you.”
Jones: “I love dogs.”
Dumb movies can be fun, but this one is just boring, and it drags out for 127 minutes.
The only redeeming qualities of the movie are good special effects, production design, and — to a certain extent — action sequences.
There is great part early on when Wise, equipped with awesome gravity boots that let him surf on anything, a energy shield, and a directed-energy gun, embarrasses a group of space mercenaries and follows it up by winning an aerial fight in Chicago against a bunch of aliens with cool spaceships.
But the action sequences go on too long, and at a certain point watching so much CGI becomes as interesting as watching “Halo.” This was most apparent in the climactic aerial battle between Wise and a winged lizard person in the middle of an exploding base on Jupiter: Strip away the CGI and you’re left with Tatum’s face spinning in a circle for five minutes.
While this movie might fare better among non-native English speakers, it seems likely to be a flop, which was expected last summer when Warner Bros. abruptly pushed the movie back 10 months only weeks before it was due in theatres — and it’s off to a bad start on opening weekend.
I could go on but will instead direct readers to Acuna’s lengthy discussion of how much this movie stinks.
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