“It can be difficult for people from underdeveloped worlds to hear that their planet is not the only inhabited planet.”
It can also be difficult for people to put up with underdeveloped scripts and characters. Jupiter Ascending is a messy, uninteresting film that is void of all personality and substance. The film wants so badly to be the next Star Wars, but it doesn’t take the time to give us a reason to care, which hurts the movie out the gate. Coupled with uninteresting characters, too few action scenes that are impossible to keep up with, the film breaks down under its own ambitious goals.
The Wachowski siblings came onto the scene in a big way with The Matrix in 1999, really bringing science fiction back in a big way. It was an ambitious and beautifully made film that showed us directors with a lot of potential and purpose. But oh how the mighty have fallen. Jupiter Ascending is the next in line of a string of misfires on their resume that is making it seem like The Matrix may have been just a fluke. There was a chance to do something special here, but the Wachowskis spend so much time crafting beautiful films, that they forget how to make anything worth telling inside them.
Every character is a flawed, empty vessel. There’s nothing to latch onto with them, and we really don’t have any reason to care. Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that the leads are played Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, most of us simply wouldn’t care. Kunis’ character Jupiter should be strong willed and fun to watch, and while she’s strong willed, she seems to spend too much of the film being a damsel in distress who is endlessly gullible, playing right into the hands of the villains. Kunis is as good as she can be with the material given to her, but there’s not much for her to work with. The same can be said for Tatum, who tries his best to be good in the film, no matter how stilted or awkward the film gets. They’re the two most likable things in the film, and they’re not enough to carry this mess of a film home.
It’s just too bad that the Wachowskis also manage to get the worst performance out of Eddie Redmayne, who is currently in the running for an Academy Award for The Theory of Everything. His performance is so incredibly bad, it’s almost hard to watch. He mumbles and whispers everything, except for the occasional burst of screaming, and he just looks like he doesn’t want to be anywhere near this film. It almost feels like he feels it’s beneath him, and it shows painfully that he just doesn’t care. He’s laughably bad at all times, cringeworthy almost all the way though, and it really hurts not just the film, but his career as well.
The worst part isn’t even the acting though, because it’s the film’s action and lack of story as well. When the film spends time setting up a story that really goes no where, it gets into bursts of action that really don’t help the film. When it should be fun, it’s just loud and overlong, and it makes it hard to tell what’s happening at all times. There’s not sense of geography to anything, making it frustrating to deal with. There was so much fun stuff that could have been done with the film, and yet it basically squanders all the possibilities by undermining itself.
Really though, the biggest problem of all is that the film tries to over explain everything, instead of letting the world it’s setting up just be. The over explanation of everything starts to become exhausting, making the experience feel dull. Not only that, but the things that are being explained aren’t even what really are the most important parts, so the story just gets very little love or care. So as characters turn on characters, you simply don’t care because you don’t know why they’re turning on each other. It’s such a jumbled mess, that by the time it’s over, you simply feel bored and annoyed by it all.
Jupiter Ascending Is a film that wants to be big and exciting, ushering in a new wave of science fiction and fantasy films. But all it’ll manage to do is hurt the genre, and we can only hope it won’t take the careers of its actors down with it. Tatum and Kunis try as they might to salvage their characters given what they have to work with, but it’s not enough. There’s just no two ways around it, this film is a mess from beginning to end, and outside of its score by Michael Giacchino, it’s better being left in the past and not being remembered. The Wachowskis used to have so much potential, but now it’s clear that they’re more concerned about the spectacle than the story, creating soulless narratives that just don’t matter. There’s nothing worse than seeing talent fall so far, but they have, and Jupiter Ascending is the sad cautionary tale for any director of what not to become.