Verdict: 1.5 / 5
Let’s get something straight from the start: Jupiter Ascending is not a good movie.
However, it is probably still worth a single watch. In many ways, all that the Wachowskis have done up until this point has been controlled in some way: the first Matrix had greater studio control; the sequels had expectations from the first. Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas and V for Vendetta were all adaptations. However, with Jupiter, someone finally just gave these two the GDP of a small country as a budget and let them do whatever they want. And what we got was Channing Tatum playing a half-wolf-alien bodyguard protecting the empress of the universe. So that in itself is quite a feat.
Jupiter (Kunis) is a seemingly ordinary person living their life on Earth, whereas unbeknownst to her, all human life is controlled by an intergalactic Empire. And for various plot reasons, Jupiter is now the heir to Earth, and must stop it from being destroyed by her new family members. Along the way, she is aided by Caine Wise (Tatum) and Stinger Apini (Sean Bean), who is appropriately enough a bee/human hybrid. Evil villain duties are handled mostly by Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne), with Redmayne doing a hilariously awful performance, especially from someone who won a best actor award just before this film was released.
The best thing that could be said about the film is that the visuals are good and quite distinct at times. However, the dialogue is laughably awful, the delivery of lines is stunted and uninspiring, the plot doesn’t seem to do anything, and the collection of obvious tropes being overplayed is a bit too visible. The saviour figure, the hidden society, the ordinary person being special, the quest for identity; these are all part and parcel of a Wachowski move experience and they are especially blunt here.
Positively, the film does have a good female lead in Jupiter, who avoids many of the pitfalls that other female film characters are pushed into. The score is also mostly good. However, as a complete package, I would recommend Jupiter Ascending to be watched with friends who are up for a good silly laugh. With its enormous budget, great actors, good directors and everything else going for it, it really should have been better. Maybe there is something to be said for studio control on blockbusters.
Also, try to rent it. I don’t think we should encourage them by giving anyone related to this movie money.