Jupiter Ascending got a lot of flak for being a bad movie with a huge budget. Those critics were right. Here’s why you should go see it regardless.
Every now and then, I watch a movie trailer or read a plot synopsis and I know that this movie will be hammy at best. Jupiter Ascending was one of those. It’s about a girl named Jupiter Jones who is a young cleaning lady due to being an illegal immigrant from Russia. But she’s also a secret princess of the universe! Because, you see, there’s a billion trillion inhabited planets out there and they’re ruled by the house Abraxas. However, Earthlings have not quite yet gotten that note, so they’re blissfully unaware of their imminent destruction. Oh, I didn’t mention that? Riiiight, neither does the movie. Earth is to be destroyed in something called The Harvest. It’s now up to our Alien Princess Jupiter and her protector Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) to save the Earth.
How does this not sound gloriously crappy?
No Excuse for the Plot
First: You will facepalm so hard during this movie. The story is nonsensical at best. What makes this even worse is that the movie was scheduled to hit theatres a year ago but was then pushed back to early 2015 because apparently post-production took some more work than expected. Or the story was just too bad and this is the better version while still being dreadful.
The characters are flat, there’s no development and everyone’s a raging stereotype. Mila Kunis’s Jupiter Jones never makes it out of her Damsel-in-Distress role and ends up exactly where she began. Somehow they also managed to make Channing Tatum look bad. He’s one of the more classically good-looking actors in current Hollywood. Strong jaw, broad shoulders, that sort of thing. In this movie he looks like a mess.
The acting, all things considered, is pretty good, considering the actors weren’t given too much to work with. The most impressive, in any sense of the word, job is the one done by Eddie Redmayne as Balem Abraxas. Nobody chews scenery quite like him. It’s fantastically hilarious and greatly entertaining.
About Channing Tatum
By far the most distracting thing about the movie is Channing Tatum. Both his characters and the make-up are just weird. So let’s recap his character. He’s a Skyjacker. What’s a Skyjacker, you ask? We never get to learn that. What we know is that a Skyjacker is part of something called The Legion. Maybe or maybe not to be confused with The Aegis, which is described as some kind of space police.
But Channing Tatum as Caine Wise is also a Lycantant. A genetically engineered cross between «a man and something like a wolf». So he has pointy ears. He’s also a half-albino. And he has wings. Yes, he’s a pale flying wolf mutant with rocket boots. Rocket boots, you ask? Here’s where the movie starts to show its brilliancy.
The Brilliance of the Film
The movie shines in everything you look at. The Wachowskis have thought out this world very well. From buildings to technology to costumes. It’s phenomenal. And most impressively there are the antigravity boots used by Caine Wise. They’re implausibly explained as boots that redirect gravity, allowing the wearer to essentially float and kind of roller skate across the skies. Yes, this movie makes roller skating, the most inherently 90s thing when seen in movies, is cool again.
But while other movies would use the boots to just fly around, the Wachowskis have thought about other applications of the boots. When Caine fights, he triggers the boosters on the boots to give his enemies just that extra bit of a kick. When he tries to escape from the prison hole, he tries to melt through the bars with the boosters of the boots.
And this ingenuity when it comes to things that make the film look cool pervades through the entire movie. The Abraxas use antigravity technology to have what can best be described as floating sex. The same technology is used to have ships that have parts that aren’t connected to other parts, allowing for the brilliant feature that ships can reconfigure themselves in flight, allowing for attack configurations or flight stabilizing. Even for the realm of science fiction, this is brilliant.
Then there’s the costumes that are designed with similar intricacy and brilliance as Caine’s equipment or the ships, even if they’re in frame for only a second. All in all, Jupiter Ascending is pure eye candy. It’s impossibly pretty and totally worth seeing. It’s even worth it in cinemas, because the prettiness is probably lost a bit on the small screen.