We deserve better from the Wachowski siblings than this uninspired and staggeringly lifeless film. Now it’s been a long time since the glory days of The Matrix but it was still hard to contemplate whilst watching Jupiter Ascending that this came from the same minds which gave us that classic and highly original sci-fi movie, especially so as this draws (i.e. steals) from numerous popular science fiction films including The Matrix itself. I strongly advise you to avoid checking this film out in theaters, it’s as much of a dud as we all feared it would be with its insultingly bad plotting, joyless action scenes and characters that are so thinly drawn they threaten to disappear off the screen entirely.
When you sit down to watch Jupiter Ascending a number of its flaws don’t become immediately apparent; it doesn’t start strong but you raise your hopes that it may in fact surprise you over the course of its running time. However what does strike you early on is just how terrible the acting is here. Across the board people turn in bad performances with Mila Kunis and Eddie Redmayne being the worst offenders. It seems strange to write that Redmayne is awful here so soon after I heaped praise upon his turn as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, but unfortunately there is nothing praiseworthy about him here as he plays a super-villain with so little tact and subtlety that its laughable. Kunis is fine when delivering offhand, comedic lines but when a scene requires even an ounce of dramatic weight she comes across as if she was in a school play rather than a giant blockbuster. Channing Tatum doesn’t fare too badly, he’s not great, but he can muster through most of his dialogue without slipping up too badly. He can’t convince us to care about his character at all though.
Actually it’s not entirely fair for me to have written off the entire casts efforts as Sean Bean does work hard at his role but he is hampered by a script that is so juvenile and underdeveloped that it feels like it was written by two overexcited five-year-olds. Bean is given very little to do but admirably makes the best of a bad job. Talking of the film’s more positive aspects there’s the special effects to consider here. They do often look pretty and clearly a lot of money was blown on this movie and its effects but too often the visuals feel like they are purely green-screen; lacking tactility and rendering many of the dramatic scenes a little inert and artificial-feeling. They may have been impressive during the action scenes but I didn’t really notice as these are unfortunately so devoid of emotion and excitement that we simply don’t care enough in order to engage with them.
All in all I wasn’t a fan of this film… in case you hadn’t guessed. I had, somewhat naively, hoped that this would be a dumb action flick that was at least a little entertaining, but alas I was wrong. At the free screening I attended there were numerous walkouts and the film was often loudly mocked and laughed at. Normally this disruption would annoy me but if anything it made the experience more enjoyable. It was good to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling vaguely affronted at just how offensively awful Jupiter Ascending was. I don’t recommend this film to anybody unless they are an absolute die-hard fan of Tatum or Redmayne… and even then can’t you wait until you can rent it on DVD?
What is the film’s greatest strength? I guess it’s the film’s visuals… but it’s a stretch to describe that as a positive.
Its greatest weakness? It’s complete failure to be engaging or even vaguely intelligent.
Would I see it again? No, I think I need to re-watch The Matrix in order to remind myself that the Wachowski’s did once have some talent.
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