HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Jupiter Ascending
HTS Overall Score:87
I have to get this out of the way first. I’m a HUGE Wachowski film fan. I remember waiting in line for “The Matrix” as a High Schooler, and even sitting outside of the Tigard, Oregon Regal Cinema to watch “The Matrix Reloaded”. “Speed Racer” was a colorful, but widely goofy take on the classic cartoon, and “Cloud Atlas” was a veritable masterpiece, in my opinion. Strangely, besides “The Matrix” trilogy, the siblings haven’t gotten a lot of respect critically, and their last several movies have been complete financial failures. I saw the name Wachowski next to the theatrical title of “Jupiter Ascending” and was immediately intrigued. I was all ready to go and watch it at my local Harkins Theater only to watch review after review coming in, all giving it the most scathing scores I had seen for a big budget movie in a very long time. Crushed and slightly depressed, I declined to see it in theaters and actually braced myself in morbid curiosity for this review. Color me more than a bit surprised to find out that “Jupiter Ascending” is nowhere near as bad as the reviews made it out to be. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of failings here, as it is the worst Wachowski sibling film to date, but there’s a ridiculous level of spectacle involved and some amazing examples of truly imaginative design mixed in with a silly action movie plot.
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is not exactly your everyday person, in fact she seems to be even a little bit less by society’s standards. She lives with her native Russian family in a little house, crammed with almost a dozen people inside those walls. Her days are spent cleaning toilets for wealthy people, scraping just a few bucks an hour to get by. This all changes when alien bounty hunters start tracking her down for no apparent reason. Intercepted by a half man, half wolf genetic hybrid named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), she is introduced into a life that she never knew existed. Jupiter just so happens to be the genetic reincarnation of galactic royalty, matriarch of a family who runs one of the largest business in the entire galaxy. A business that thrives off of life and death. It seems that Earth is not really the start of humanity. Humanity has been around for billions of years across the galaxy and are much more advanced than we think we are. Business and trade leagues are formed around the one craving that humanity has had for near all existence. The search for immortality. Thousands of worlds just like Earth populate the galaxy and each one is a harvesting ground, where humans are allowed to populate the planet, and then destroyed and their bodies concentrated into a miracle elixir that allows the rest of humanity to leave for thousands and thousands of years each.
While Jupiter is the genetic reincarnation of the mother, the three children, Balem (Eddie Redmayne) Titus (Douglas Booth) and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) have no intention of letting Jupiter take over all of their mother’s assets, one of which is Earth. The three siblings fight and claw to get Jupiter to turn over the Earth to them, some by kindness, other’s by treachery, and Balem, the oldest, resorts to pure brute force to get what he wants. The only stability that Jupiter has is her growing trust in Caine and in her own conscience. Dancing throughout all the treachery, political maneuvering and business deals, she has to figure out what her role is in this story, and what role the rest of humanity plays in hers.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=46082[/img]“Jupiter Ascending” is a great example of fantastic imagination mixed with a very obvious case of not enough time to tell the story. The movie is by far one of the most visually attractive and wildly imaginative films that I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. It’s obvious that the Wachowskis have a vivid imagination, as the resulting ship designs, and visual representation of species, worlds and technology is in a whole other ballpark than your average movie maker. I saw space ship dog fights, gravity roller blades, hyperspace technology and even robotic designs that are so spectacular and unique that I can’t help but marvel in its beauty. Even the direction of the script is almost as exciting as the visual spectacle (eat your heart out Michal Bay), but the putting together of so many unique and exciting ideas just doesn’t turn out as well as the Wachowskis has probably hoped. The first act sets up the store quite simply, introducing Jupiter, Caine and the whole issue of a galactic empire of businesses (feeling like a cross between “Star Wars” trade negotiations and Frank Herbert’s “Dune”), and then the 2nd and 3rd act keep putting more, and more, and more story into the runtime, ending up with just too many ideas crammed into one place and not enough time to fully flesh out all the details.
I had fun with the movie, I really did, but there is a niggling at the back of my mind, that feels as if Lana had a big part in writing the script, as it feels like a high school girls sci-fi fantasy, complete with the girl getting the hot guy, lots of abs, flashy space battles, space princesses and more decorating ideas than an entire Baroque dynasty. Mila Kunis does a decent job as Jupiter, and Channing Tatum does what he does best, look hot and hit people in the face. I had to REALLY chuckle at Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Balem was such a wildly hammy performance that comparing it to his role as Stephen Hawking is such a flip of the coin that you almost cannot tell it’s the same person. Eddie chews up the scenery whenever he’s on screen, so much so that I was literally chuckling at the wild over acting. It almost reminds me of Peter Stormare and the mustache twirling the man can do with a straight face.
The movie certainly has plenty of potholes, and some big ones at that. The first being the slightly cheesy romance between Caine and Jupiter, with very little foreshadowing to the event, and the second being the storyline with humans being used as giant batteries (hmmm, where have we heard that theory before). I mean, she ends up leaving her role as royalty, and goes back to Earth, completely ignoring the fact that there is a giant evil society of humans up there that treat planets full of humans as expendable for their immortality. Sure she gets the guy and lives happily ever after, but it’s kind of like sticking your head in the sand and singing to cover up the noise of someone else singing. Kalique and Titus and supposedly dozens of other royal families are running around the galaxy doing the same thing, but Jupiter has decided to just ignore all of their treachery and evil natures to live in peace on Earth. The conflicting lessons of the movie that dealt with doing what’s right, and the actual ending makes you sit back in your chair and go “huh” as the typical fairy tale ending feels slightly tainted.
Rated PG-13 for some violence, sequences of sci-fi action, some suggestive content and partial nudity
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=46090[/img]The movie isn’t fantastic, but the Wachowskis have ALWAYS known how to deliver an incredibly rich and vibrant movie experience, and the 2.40:1 framed AVC encoded Blu-ray is basically perfect. The movie shows off a nice blue tinge to the color grading, but keeps itself filled with meticulously crafted layers of bright reds, blues, golds and the like, forming one of the most divinely gorgeous transfers I have ever seen. “Jupiter Ascending” looks like “Speed Racer” and a sci-fi movie had a baby and this is what came out. Blacks are deep and inky, from the blackness of space, to the simple shadows in Jupiter’s home. Contrasts are impeccable and skin tones are photorealistic. To say that the Wachowski siblings have a knack for creating visually stimulating and beautiful films is an understatement, and they really went all out with “Jupiter Ascending”. A+ across the board.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=46098[/img]The Atmos Blu-rays that have come out so far have all been cherry picked to showcase the very best that Atmos can do, and “Jupiter Ascending” is one such track. It’s interesting to have viewed 2 Dolby Atmost tracks within weeks of each other. One being the incredibly nuanced and finely detailed “American Sniper” and the second being this one. While I was simply amazed at the channel separation and distinct usage of surrounds in the former, “Jupiter Ascending” dominates the sound field with an incredibly whirlwind of sonic bliss. The sci-fi style audio track blasts you back in your seats with a near constant tornado of special audio effects, explosions, and the fine detail that comes through on all 8 channels. The surrounds are constantly engaged with dog fights, laser blasts, and the roar of space ships blasting through space, all the while maintaining excellent fidelity and distinct separation of different sounds. LFE is through the roof as it pounds and just plain assaults you with a huge waves of low end. The dialog itself is clean and clear, locked up front with perfect balance to the chaos going on around it. My only complaint is more about the accents used for the film, as Sean Bean and Channing were a bit hard to hear at times due to their vocal inflections. That’s nothing at all to do with the track, but rather the direction in which the actors where given in the vocal department. Absolutely incredible track.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=46106[/img]• Jupiter Jones: Destiny Is Within Us
• Caine Wise: Interplanetary Warrior
• The Wachowskis: Minds Over Matter
• Worlds Within Worlds Within Worlds
• Genetically Spliced
• Bullet Time Evolved
• From Earth to Jupiter (And Everywhere in Between)
“Jupiter Ascending” isn’t a fantastic movie, or even a really good sci-fi flick, but the movie is solidly entertaining, as I’ve seen much worse plot lines, and the visual spectacle that the Wachowskis have delivered is incredibly appealing. The video and audio are just about as picture perfect as you can get, with a mind blowing Dolby Atmos mix, along with one of the most luscious looking digital movies I have ever seen. Definitely give it a look see yourself, as I am under no delusions that the movie is going to win academy awards, but was certainly entertained both visually and sonically the whole 2 hour + runtime.
Starring: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean
Directed by: Andy and Lana Wachowski
Written by: Andy and Lana Wachowski
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Runtime: 128 Minutes
Own “Jupiter Ascending” on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on June 2nd
Buy Jupiter Ascending 3D Combo Pack On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Jupiter Ascending 2D Combo Pack On Blu-ray at Amazon
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