Rarely does a film exist that is so terrible it is good. “Jupiter Ascending” exceeded all of my expectations with a plot that seems like “Star Wars” and “The Matrix” combined. Starring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean and Oscar-nominated Eddie Redmayne, this star-studded cast is not exactly a quality guarantee.
In downtown Chicago, Jupiter Jones (Kunis) lives a boring life cleaning homes for wealthy people when she decides to sell her eggs to buy a telescope. When aliens try to kill her at her doctor’s appointment, a genetically spliced half-wolf and half-human named Caine (Tatum) saves her and changes her life forever. Jupiter is the genetic reincarnation of the dead matriarch of the Abrasax dynasty, a family that has ruled the universe for millennia by harvesting humans on planets for a magical serum that keeps them young and in perfect health. With her newfound royalty, Jupiter must reclaim her title as the leader of this dynasty, outwit the evil, scheming Abrasax children and save the future of the earth. I cannot make this up.
For obvious reasons, the writing is the most difficult thing to stomach about “Jupiter Ascending.” The sci-fi lingo in the dialogue combined with intense special effects try too hard to pull off a groundbreaking new universe, but ultimately audiences have seen this gimmick before. The movie borrows cliches from just about every sci-fi movie ever, and the royal sibling rivalry seems a little too “Game of Thrones.” However, while this is not Mila Kunis’ best performance by any means, the way her character pursues a romance with Caine is one of the highlights of the script. Their romance is not immediate and he flat out rejects her from the beginning, making for an interesting twist on the average action movie relationship. The film doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously and manages to make some real comedy, especially when the Space DMV is worse than any other DMV on Earth.
Other than the painfully weird storyline, the special effects are elaborate and the costuming is impressive. While it lacks substance, it is beautiful to look at. This film would be worth the extra money for a 3-D ticket. “Jupiter Ascending” was actually supposed to debut last July, but it took an extra seven months to work on over 2,000 special effect shots.
“Jupiter Ascending” sadly placed third in the box office this weekend, behind “American Sniper” which came out almost a month ago. It also only grossed $50.9 million globally, hardly a fraction of its $175 million budget. The only way most audiences will enjoy “Jupiter Ascending” is if they admit the movie’s faults and actively choose to like it anyway. The film is campy and cliche but still tells an epic story worth paying attention to. At the very least, in a few years we can say “Remember that weird movie where Channing Tatum was a half wolf dude?”
“Jupiter Ascending” is rated PG-13 for some violence, sequences of sci-fi action, some suggestive content and partial nudity.