Let’s not fool ourselves. The Wachowskis have not made a good film since their 1999 science-fiction flick “The Matrix”. They haven’t even made a half-decent one. Now, I won’t dispute their massive taste for ambitiousness, but when vision and execution don’t add up 5 times in a row, I think it’s time to close the bank account and pass the torch to someone else. It’s almost embarrassing how abysmal the duo’s latest big-budget blockbuster is. So much, in fact, that I was physically repulsed while watching it.
“Jupiter Ascending” tells the story of Jupiter Jones, a down-on-luck cleaning woman with dreams of escaping the monotonous life that she leads. When one day she is attacked by strange alien creatures from another planet, she is rescued by a Lycantant (crossover between man and wolf) played by Channing Tatum, who has been sent out to find her, so that she can reclaim what is rightfully hers: the throne of an intergalactic dynasty. This sets off a chain of events, and a fight that will ultimately determine the fate of our world.
This is a super-heavy CGI-fest. Nothing feels real, nothing feels tangible. There is quite literally no gravity to be felt, neither on a story-level or in the loud, preposterous action-sequences. Not that I expected it to be a mind-bending science-fiction allegory. I’m well-aware of the Wachowskis’ relationship with facts and fiction, so I found it best for me to leave my brain at the door and just enjoy myself. The problem is, the movie takes itself dead-serious. All the grand battle-scenes happen at the very beginning and very end of the film, while in-between we are forced to suffer through what feels like an eternity of nonsense-politics, painfully simple-minded metaphors, and dialogue taken right out of a congress meeting. None of it makes sense, even in the context of the universe, which was apparently “inspired” by the Odyssey, written by Greek poet Homer. The difference, though, is that Homer’s writing is smart and poignant – something this screenplay is clearly not.
It all just feels like one big miscalculation. A failed attempt to build the foundation for an expansive franchise. There is simply too much going on here, but at the same time nothing really happens. Mila Kunis plays the stereotypical damsel in distress, who needs rescue every 5 minutes or so. She doesn’t have the spunk and determination of cinema’s other great female protagonists, or even the wit and self-awareness to act as the rational counterpoint to all the plastic madness. She is as one-dimensional as can be, not to mention a disgrace to female leads. She constantly gets pushed around, forced into marriage, and apparently the only one who can save her is a big hunk of a man, who frankly possesses the emotional complexity of a mashed potato. Now all we need is a random elephant man piloting an aircraft full of humans. Oh wait… They did that too… Do I even need to tell you about the psychic bees to convince you how terrible this film really is? You know what, I’ll spare you that story. The movie wasted my time. No reason to waste yours too.