"Jupiter Ascending" Review

I thought it would be Channing Tatum’s dirty blonde goatee, aversion to shirts throughout the film, and poor acting skills that ruined “Jupiter Ascending” for me. Truth be told, I’m predicting Tatum may be the next McConaughey, as years from now we may say “wasn’t he the guy from those Step Up movies?” Instead it was a bloated script and poor female lead that did it. For the first epic tale of the year, “Jupiter Ascending” is a waste of cinematic innovation and imagination, but it didn’t have to be.

The Wachowski’s have once again created a dazzling cinematic universe. The worlds are sprawling, the technology is advanced, and the variety of life forms are diverse. Although the exposition of it all isn’t always explained clearly, you can follow what’s happening. The issue is the wooden, superficial dialogue that makes up the film. Instead of giving us a Cinderella-esque story, we get a high school for the performing arts thesis script.

Mila Kunis is in over her head as Jupiter Jones. Jupiter was born an alien. Not the type you may think would be in an intergalactic film, but she was born in the middle of the ocean on a cargo ship. If only her being a space alien explained why she’s the genetic “reincarnation” of the late matriarch of the Abrasax family, who rules the universe, things would flow a bit better. However, that’s the theme of the movie- introduce lofty ideas with no logical explanation (understanding this is Sci-Fi). Due to her genes, she is entitled to everything the late matriarch owned, making her the most powerful being in the universe if she can claim her title.

Jupiter spends her days cleaning rich people’s homes. After her genetic code comes on the radar while trying to sell her eggs, Jupiter becomes a target of the Abrasax family in their interior war for power. While no one in the Abrasax family’s motives are clear, Caine Wise’s (Channing Tatum) are. Caine is a bounty hunter whose mission is to retrieve Jupiter for Titus Abrasax (Douglas Booth), the youngest and wildest of the family, but falls for her in the midst of it. Don’t worry, Jupiter falls for him literally and figuratively throughout the film. Whether it’s from great heights, landing in his arms while screaming, or constantly making innuendoes about how she wants to be with him, the point is made.

The short of it all is the oldest Abrasax family member with the most power, Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne), wants her dead. Redmayne has to pray that the Academy voted before seeing the film because he definitely gave a Razzy worthy performance. Kunis will probably join him for her underwhelming performance as  one of the least appealing damsels in distress. 

“Jupiter Ascending” could have been so much more. It’s epic in scope and cinematically beautiful, which is why it isn’t an epic fail. With more time at the writer’s table, and better casting choices we could have been talking about this film for a while. I just hope we’re not witnessing the decent of the Wachowski’s.

Rating: D


Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.