Jupiter Ascending has all the elements of being a solid science-fiction movie. It has some great actors, a universe and characters that are worth exploring, and pretty CGI. But it also has the unfortunate circumstances to be directed by the Wachowskis, which ultimately renders the film into an excessive orgy of unnecessary slow-motion, awful dialogue, and shameful acting that collapses under the weight of its own attempts to stand out.
Like their last film, Cloud Atlas, the Wachowskis just cannot manage to nail down a consistent tone for a movie. Jupiter Ascending suffers from the same fate as we are introduced to the world of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis)—a modern day Cinderella who just so happens to have royal alien blood flowing through her. Her life consists of cleaning for rich people and trying to sell her eggs to get a telescope (I know, for a sci-fi movie even this seems bizarre.) When aliens attack her as she is in a oddly chick-flick type scenario, we are introduced to a furry, pointy-eared Channing Tatum who has come to save the day.
From this already muddle opening, we are thrown into space on a journey for Jupiter to protect her inherited Earth from being subject to a harvesting from rich aliens who want to manufacture a youth serum for their upper-class. As preposterous as this sounds, it only gets more so as these great actors have to contend with an absolutely horrendous script that seems to have been written by a 12 year old as it includes lines like “Stalin’s Balls.” Adding to this is Eddie Redmayne’s grossly over-the-top performance that is definitely a large step down from some of the other movie’s he’s been appearing in.
On top of the horrible script is the over-use of CGI and slow-motion in overly long action sequences that somehow manage to end up boring. The Wachowskis, in trying to cram the movie so full of exotic aliens and strange lifeforms, seemed to not give any thought as to why they exist. When the aliens attack Earth, nobody seems to care at all. Chicago gets shot the hell up by a dozen alien spaceships and the script explains their uncaring as simple brainwash—talk about writing yourself out of a corner.
Maybe it says something that the film got delayed over six months because the CGI needed more time. When a film cares more about the CGI than the awful acting, the pandering story, and its numerous cliches, maybe the movie just shouldn’t have made it to the big screen. Jupiter Ascending is another example of why the Wachowskis may have simply been a one-hit-wonder.