February 12, 2015
Jupiter Ascending (**) PG-13
The Wachowski siblings-Lana and Andy-have tried once again to recapture their Matrix magic but the results are middling to fair at best with their latest effort, Jupiter Ascending. The film is yet another sci fi opus in the Matrix mold that’s certainly pleasing to the eye and thrilling to look at but with a film narrative so hopelessly befuddled and generic that, after awhile, you’re likely to just find yourself running from the theater. The film runs just a tad over two hours but feels closer to the three-hour length of the Wachowskis’ last film, the infinitely better 2012 pic Cloud Atlas. It’s abundantly clear why the film’s distributor yanked the film from a July release slot last summer to the first week in February, a traditional void in terms of time frames where films are typically released. The execs at Warners knew what they were doing as the film would have hit with a resounding thud in the crowded summertime marketplace.
Mila Kunis is the Jupiter of the film’s title. Jupiter, as a little girl, had a vague sense that she was destined for great things but as an adult finds herself fulfilled only in her daydreams. Jupiter now spends her day cleaning houses with her Russian mother and only a fleeting notion that she’ll actually come to make a difference in the world somewhere along the line. That is until she chances to meet Caine, who’s a genetically engineered half-wolf hybrid.
When Jupiter decides to sell her eggs to a fertility clinic at the behest of a shiftless relative in order for Jupiter to buy a telescope and the shiftless relative to buy a stereo (yes, you read that correctly), Jupiter is besieged by homicidal aliens from space. She is saved by Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered mutant who’s been cross-bred with a wolf. This leads to awkward dialogue exchanges wherein Jupiter and Caine attempt to decide whether they should become romantically involved or if it would be borderline bestiality. This is all before Caine enlists Jupiter’s help in saving the universe after it’s revealed that Jupiter is the exact genetic duplicate of a deceased interstellar matriarch and, as such, the lawful inheritor of the Earth itself. You may be scratching your head at that last bit of plot but, trust me, the film is filled with them.
The film’s production design looks as good as you would expect a $175 million film to look. It captures all the futuristic landscapes vividly and imaginatively but with a story as confounding as the one found in the film, it’s hardly worth all the time and effort it took to bring the film to fruition. The Wachowskis may have struck out again but at least Jupiter Rising isn’t a total washout. There are some rousing moments from time to time but anyone expecting another Matrix will find themselves sorely disappointed.
Jupiter Rising is playing in theaters all over this area.
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