‘Jupiter Ascending’ falls flat

By Kate Joseph
Staff Writer

pic of Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum in Jupiter Ascending
Photo: Warner Bros

The Wachowskis are known for making elaborate, thought-provoking films, like “The Matrix” and “V for Vendetta,” but their latest creation is mostly laughable.

“Jupiter Ascending,” the confusing story of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a woman who goes from poor maid to irreplaceable galactic entity, was hoped to be a successful, original franchise for Warner Brothers. The film was pushed back from a summer 2014 release to last month, grossing only $18 million domestically on opening weekend, ranking third at the box office.

While the movie’s basic concept is fairly interesting, and the trailer certainly depicts a lot of action, the two-hour film is boring. In between a few decent action scenes there is ridiculous dialogue and random, unnecessary details of the fantasy universe are constantly being tossed at the audience.

The awful dialogue and strange storyline could have been saved by exceptional acting, but it seems the stars of the film were just as bored with the script as the audience. Channing Tatum’s turn as a human-canine hybrid is awkward and eye-roll inducing, while Sean Bean’s Stinger Apini, a man who is also part bee, is just upsetting.

Perhaps the greatest performance in the film, which is not saying much, is that of recent Academy Award winner, Eddie Redmayne. The owner of a shiny Oscar for Best Actor plays Balem, an emperor of the universe who talks like Marlon Brando in “The Godfather” for no apparent reason. As if the character could not get any more entertaining, Redmayne is also outfitted in capes and glitter for his entire performance.

One redeeming aspect of “Jupiter Ascending” is that it is female driven and passes the Bechdel test. Jupiter Jones talks with several other female characters throughout the film about topics varying between work, family and ruling the universe. Unfortunately, Mila Kunis’s performance is overwhelmingly bland. Frankly, the actress expresses far more emotion with her voice work as Meg Griffin on Family Guy.

Visually, the film has some pretty impressive effects, which should be expected of a movie with a nearly $200 million budget. A score by Michael Giacchino makes this otherwise train wreck watchable.

But the real saving grace of this film is the unintentional comedy.

If you’re expecting a powerful action/thriller, don’t see this movie. However, if you want to laugh at a disastrous piece of cinema, this flick is a must-see.

On top of superbly horrible performances and a nearly impossible-to-follow plot, this film has dozens of giggle-inducing moments. For instance, in one scene, Jupiter Jones lifts her arms and unknowingly commands a cloud of thousands of bees, and, without missing a beat, another character bows and says, “your majesty,” because in this story, for some convoluted reason, bees can sense royalty. Absurd lines like this continuously pop out of nowhere, and it’s genuinely hilarious.

Overall, “Jupiter Ascending” is more of a parody of a sci-fi film than an actual sci-fi film. It may not succeed as a popular franchise, but it will undoubtedly put a smile on your face.

“Jupiter Ascending” is playing in theaters now.