Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Jupiter Ascending Was Flashy But Not Memorable

As sci-fi movies go, Jupiter Ascending was pretty typical.  Captivating plot twists and intriguing storylines were sacrificed in favor of stupendous action sequences and brilliant visual effects.  The resulting movie is a two hour burst of flashing lights and not a single memorable line.  That being said, the movie did have a certain entertainment value and thus can’t be tossed away entirely.
The movie centers on Jupiter Jones (played by Mila Kunis) who learns she is a genetic reincarnation of the powerful matriarch of the Abrasax family who until her recent passing, owned the Earth and many other planets.  Now pursued by the wealthy woman’s three children, Jupiter is assisted by Caine, an ex-soldier with a bone to pick with the Abrasax children and their demented methods to achieve immortality.  If this all sounds loose, that’s because it is.  Small details like Caine’s lost “wings” and his past mentor/friend Stinger (played by Sean Bean) are glossed over so quick they feel like snippets thrown in to try and establish more character depth.  But the film progresses from one thing to the next so quickly we never get the chance to really develop any sort of attachment to ANY character.  Even Jupiter’s backstory feels so rushed and insignificant that it’s hard to sympathize with her plight in any way.  While there are many grand declarations of futuristic technologies and processes interspersed with brief explanations of the history of the universe and the aliens Jupiter encounters, it is almost all lost amongst the flashy miasma of the action sequences which tend to flow from one to the next allowing for little time to understand what you’re witnessing.  On top of that, little explanation is given as to how these advanced human races have managed to maintain control over vast quantities of our own solar system without ever being noticed.  The only reason we are given is some sort of Men in Black rip off where Caine tells Jupiter that they erase people’s memories when they witness something they’re not supposed to.  That’s pretty flimsy when you see the scale of destruction left by many of the events in the movie.
While I totally appreciate a female lead in a genre which predominately sees male protagonists, I feel that Mila Kunis was a poor choice.  She has reached a level of notoriety that makes it hard for you to see her as this poor daughter of a Russian immigrant who works as a cleaning lady.  She doesn’t fit that role and when combined with Channing Tatum who is also a recognizable figure, the film lost much of its believability, something that is CRUCIAL for a good sci-fi film. 
Overall, I would have loved more backstory.  The story of the alien “humans” who are simply a more advanced version of our own species I found very intriguing and in my opinion would have made a far more interesting story than the one we got.   In the end, the effects were dazzling and the action sequences top notch (despite being a little too chaotic).  Fans of Divergent or Hunger Games will probably love the movie.  Fans of Cloud Atlas or Moon will not.  You get my point. 

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