Jupiter Ascending

Directed By: Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski

Starring: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw

I always look forward to films from Lana and Andy Wachowski.  Whether they succeed or fail, they always put forth one hell of a production.  All of their movies are intriguing, thought-provoking cinema consistently marked by ambition.  No matter what, they go for it all in grand style each and every time they're up at bat.  Cloud Atlas was no exception two and a half years ago for The Matrix directors.  Their latest sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending is no exception either.

Born to a widowed mother in the middle of the ocean without a country to call home, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) has no idea how special she truly is.  Living in poverty with her family of Russian immigrants and making a living as a janitor cleaning toilets, Jupiter lives a rather ordinary life in Chicago.  When hunter Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) — a genetic splice that is half-human and half-wolf — enters her world, however, Jupiter's life quickly becomes rather extraordinary.  Aliens exist and want nothing more for her than death.  Space cops from Aegis and the Legionnaire like Caine and his mentor Stinger (Sean Bean) vigorously fight to protect her.  To make matters more interesting, her DNA makes her reincarnated royalty and entitles her to take ownership of Earth itself.

Elsewhere in the universe, the Abrasax siblings Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Titus (Douglas Booth), and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) are looking to claim their inheritance from their late mother.  There's just one problem.  It just so happens that their royal mom wrote someone other than her natural heirs into her will.  She wrote her reincarnated self into the will.  She included the recently discovered Jupiter Jones.  With wealth unlike anyone could ever dream on the line, the already wealthy Abrasax siblings will do whatever they must to protect what they believe to be rightfully theirs, especially Balem.  Jupiter can no longer live the simple life cleaning toilets.

As always, Lana and Andy Wachowski offer one glossy production in Jupiter Ascending.  Marked by gorgeous cinematography and incredible panoramic shots, the film's imaginative futuristic visuals are nothing short of breathtaking.  Featuring several prominent social themes, the film symbolically addresses income inequality.  The Wachowskis delve into the widening chasm between the haves and the have-nots and how the rich should clean a toilet or two for once in their lives.  This is all very well done by the Wachowski siblings, but their latest film misses a few beats and seems a bit messy at times.

An ambitious sci-fi flick, Jupiter Ascending reaches for the heights of an epic space opera but becomes a Jerry Springer spinoff in space for one reason and one reason alone.  Despite a somewhat entertaining dysfunctional family, the film lacks a menacing antagonist with a backbone.  Every sci-fi film that takes to the depths of outer space needs a villain to dominate that big wide universe it portrays.  Three whiny children depicted by Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, and Tuppence Middleton don't exactly give the film the villains it deserves.  Simply put, they fail to offer protagonists that bring suspense and intrigue to the movie.

The other problem plaguing Jupiter Ascending is that it's jumbled.  I appreciate the Wachowskis' penchant for serving up thought-provoking blockbuster fare, but Jupiter Ascending has ten too many plot twists and attempts to be both electrifying and examining.  That's a tall task for any director, and the Wachowkis just aren't up to it this time around.  Marked by overly complicated but still intriguing mythology and a wave of tangential narratives, the film gets lost in its own expansive world on a number occasions throughout its two hour runtime.

At the end of the day, a film from the Wachowskis is always entertaining in some way, shape or form.  They know their craft.  Still, Jupiter Ascending is a disappointment.  Despite all the explosive action sequences, absolutely incredible visuals, and immense potential, their latest film just doesn't get the job done.  Jupiter Ascending gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few mojitos with this one.