It probably won't surprise anyone to know that Jupiter Ascending is a complete mess, even by the standards of the Wachowski's Matrix sequels. Their latest film throws the sci-fi rulebook out of the window with its awfully outdated cgi, laughably bad performances, lazy, nonsensical writing and the mind-numbing genericness of it all. This one definitely won't be winning any Oscars.
The story goes that Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a down on her luck maid, is actually the rightful owner of Earth and becomes hunted by the evil forces of the Abrasax family. Caine (Channing Tatum) arrives on Earth to protect Jupiter but she is kidnapped and taken to the Abrasax family, who want to take back control of the Earth and Jupiter is the key. The story may sound simple at first, but it quickly becomes convoluted and over-complicated, with the terrible script not helping matters. Lines vary between childishly simple and incomprehensibly jargon filled with no inbetween. Tatum spouts heroic but meaningless one liners while Kunis has some unthinkably inappropriate replies, including this one: Tatum: "Your Majesty, I have more in common with a dog than I have with you." Jupiter: "I love dogs... I've always loved dogs." It was difficult not to laugh at exchanges like that. I'm no script-writer but I'm pretty sure that's not a normal line of dialogue in a romantic scene.
Mila Kunis is just so terribly bland. I can't think of one scene where she looked even slightly interested. She never looks in any danger during the action sequences as it feels she is just going through the motions and it felt like she just wanted to take the paycheck and leave throughout the entirety of the film (127 minutes, way too long for this tripe). Tatum is back to playing a brainless hunk with zero characterization and little emotion, which is sad to see after impressing so much in Foxcatcher. The two have no chemistry and every minute they are on screen together is incredibly awkward and cagey. However, by far the worst performance is from Eddie Redmayne as the central villain Balem Abrasax. Every line is delivered in a high-pitched timid whisper, sounding like a pre-pubescent teenager. He is seriously awful and turns this into the best comedy of 2015 so far. The Wachowski's also seem to think that if he randomly bursts into screams and shouts mid line that will make him sound more menacing instead of a raving lunatic. Redmayne has gone from Hawking to Balem in one bad career choice and I hope he recovers his poise soon.
If you'd expect one thing from a Wachowski film, it would be good special effects. Not here. Every fight sequence feels exactly the same (and of course Kunis never sports any injuries). There are various huge landscapes that are admittedly impressive in scale but they all look so unoriginal and empty and are filled with a complete mis-match of different styles. This cost $172 million to make and it all went completely to waste. Even The Matrix (1999) looked better than this. Everything looks so green screened and horribly confined by the unambitious camerawork. The character design is equally unimaginable, with Close Encounters esque aliens and half-animal/half human creatures that clearly had no thought put into them. It is such a confusing jumble of characters and design choices that leads to the film having a complete identity crisis.
Jupiter Ascending just doesn't work at all. It fails as a sci-fi flick or as an action flick, instead only succeeding as an unintentional comedy. Maybe if you go into this with your expectations very low then you will find some enjoyment, then again maybe just don't see it. If the biggest compliment you can give a movie is that you didn't fall asleep during it, then there's clearly something very wrong with it.