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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Jupiter Ascending | Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
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Jupiter Ascending | Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean | Review

Turns out, Earth is prime real estate and cause for sibling rivalry on another, more advanced planet.  House of Abrasax, a formidable alien dynasty comprised of Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth) all seek ownership rights to the little blue gem sitting right between Venus and Mars because it’s a seedy planet.  Well, seeded, anyway.

Back here on terra firma, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) hates her life as a maid, scrubbing toilets with her Russian-born mother and aunt.  Balem sends a hit squad out on Jupiter, who, coerced by greedy cousin Vladie (Kick Gurry) is about to have her eggs harvested for money.  There is a silly identity theft issue as well, but soon it is established that Jupiter has the genetic composition of the deceased matriarch of Abrasax.  Hmm…that would make her Earth’s owner and a threat to Balem’s inheritance.  Eldest sons are so entitled, you know.

A disgraced, rocket-shoe wearing, genetically engineered ex-military (wolf-infused) warrior trying to earn back his wings because he bit someone in the past, intervenes in the assassination attempt.  Exhale.  Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) is a self-appointed rescuer to the damsel in distress and takes her on wild escapes through the skyscrapers of Chicago and on Abrasax turf.  Superman and Lois Lane drove a horse and buggy by comparison.

Wise needs help, and calls upon Stinger (Sean Bean) a man-bee splice to aid him in protecting Her Majesty, the maid, Jupiter.  Apparently the future holds lots of genetic splicing with insects and animals.  If so, I’d like to request the metabolism of a hummingbird, please.

All that is right with the film is in its visuals, which captivate with elegance, originality, and seamless incorporation of the lush tapestry of an alien world.  There are little gems of cinematic moments that impress (ethereal swarms of bees, gorgeous galaxy-scapes, and effervescent laser battles, among others).

The extremely likable Mila Kunis tries her best with a silly plot and script that have her spouting lines about the DMV and wearing a glass tree in her hair.  Channing Tatum brings the macho and has a few good fight scenes before succumbing to the often fatal (plot-wise) necessity of kissing his leading lady.  

Eddie Redmayne camps up his lines as if he’s in desperate need of oxygen, whispering in a monotone that is not so much threatening as it is puzzling.  Sean Bean’s bee-man muddies up the waters with his love/hate relationship with Wise, establishing only ambivalent motives for his involvement.

The large cast is full of actors that have roles too tiny to mention, but there is a Terry Gilliam cameo as the Seal and Signet Minister in a technologically advanced society that is awash in cumbersome metal plates and prehistoric typewriter-like apparati.  A notary public would have to bench press weights within an Olympian’s range.

Writer/producer/directors Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix) sent almost all of the budget to the CGI team on this one, apparently hoping that flash would make up for the lack of substance.  Waffling between galactic elegance and low-brow humor is another big mistake, one that makes Jupiter Ascending a stupider ascending than it ever had to be.


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