Sunday, February 08, 2015

Movie Review: Jupiter Ascending

I freely admit that I went to see this movie solely because the primary antagonist is played by Eddie Redmayne, who is currently my favorite freckle-faced actor. I wasn't expecting much from the rest of the movie, and 'not much' is exactly what I got. Don't get me wrong, the special effects were very well done and sometimes breathtaking, but Jupiter Ascending is what I simply call a special-effects movie: i.e. there are numerous, often pointless fight scenes, explosions, or plot aspects that exist solely so that audience can be (hopefully) wowed by the special effects. I expected this after I saw the trailers, and indeed, there was a space fight about every ten minutes of the film (79% of them involving a shirtless Channing Tatum). 
    As for the plot, it was half original, half cliché. It tried; it really did. A young half-Russian woman, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), hates her life as a janitor and dreams of buying a telescope to study the stars like her late father did before she was born. However, worthwhile telescopes do not come cheaply, and her motley Russian family doesn't have the money to waste on a telescope, and neither does Jupiter. Her cousin convinces her to donate some of her eggs to a fertility center for $5000, but chaos ensues when the nurses and doctor turn out to be shapeshifting aliens intent on killing Jupiter. She is rescued by Caine Wise (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, and fifteen minutes of special effects fights and falls from tall buildings ensue. Caine takes the perplexed and frightened Jupiter to meet Stinger (Sean Bean), another genetically engineered soldier who explains to Jupiter that humans did not originate on Earth—the planet was seeded by Abrasax Industries about 100,000 years ago and will be "harvested" when the planet's population becomes too large, whereupon the people will be disintegrated into a sort of youth serum and sold to those who can afford the exorbitant price. Jupiter discovers that it is the Abrasax family who wants her dead, because her genes dictate her the heir to the Earth, and it is worth more than any of the other planets combined. Balem Abrasax (Redmayne) currently holds the title to Earth and will not rest until Jupiter is dead; meanwhile, his siblings Kalique and Titus vie for control of Jupiter as well. 
       I liked the plot, but I think too much was crammed into two hours and seven minutes; there was too much information given quickly and in short scenes interspersed with mind-numbing battles in space. Plus, I honestly couldn't understand what Sean Bean was saying most of the time, so that made it even more difficult to track the plot and people because he was explaining many important things to Jupiter. This story might make an awesome TV show, if done well, but there was simply too much to explain in a mere two hours, and the characters suffered for it. Jupiter is your typical, plucky heroine (although I was amused by her rather forward declaration of love to Caine about twenty minutes into the film). We are told Caine is complicated, but he seemed to be your typical super-skilled, gruff fighter who doesn't let anyone but the beautiful heroine into his wounded little heart and ends up falling hard for her even though he doesn't want to. 
      And then there's Balem. I was legitimately glad when Jupiter whacked him across the face with a metal pole—let me repeat that: Balem is played by Eddie Redmayne, and yet I was glad when he got pummeled! That should tell you how dislikeable this fellow was; not only did he whisper 99% of his lines (which I think was supposed to be intimidating but left me wondering if he was recovering from strep throat), but he had a weird obsession with Jupiter because she was the reincarnation of his mother, and he couldn't seem to grasp that she wasn't actually his mother. Jupiter had to remind him of this at least twice ... and then she hit him with a pole. To be fair, he'd been kicking and punching her for the last five minutes, so he certainly deserved it. 
       So to sum it all up: Jupiter Ascending is heavy on the cool effects and weak on everything else. I'm glad I saw it (some of the special effects and costumes really were beautiful), but it certainly won't make my top-ten list of wonderful movies. Overall, I give it 6 out of 10 stars. If you want to see Eddie Redmayne in a truly wonderful movie, check out The Theory of Everything (he's been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actor category and won the SAG and BAFTA awards for Best Actor, along with numerous others. Yeah. He was that good.). And of course, Les Miserablesthe man can sing
        That's all for now, folks! Have a restful Sunday :) 

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