Jupiter Ascending: The Wachowskis' Descent

Movie Review

Out today at theaters across the region, Jupiter Ascending is a hard sci-fi epic directed by the Wachowskis, the visionary duo formerly known as the Wachowski Brothers who brought you The Matrix and Speed Racer.

Unlike The Matrix, however, Jupiter Ascending is garbage from start to finish. Its release date was postponed, in theory, so the Wachowskis could complete work on the 2,000+ visual effects in the film, but it's a marvel Warner Bros. didn't insist on tinkering with (or completely overhauling) the script. Everything's a mess. The final product is a non-stop barrage of CGI action sequences, competing sci-fi tropes and unpronounceable names.  

A shame, too, because the premise ain't half bad: 

Mila Kunis is Jupiter. She’s a pouty housemaid in Chicago with a generically boisterous Russian immigrant family. Turns out she’s also the reincarnation of the universe’s recently deceased queen tycoon. Jupiter’s now being hunted down by intergalactic soldiers and spies at the behest of the queen tycoon's three heirs because they all want rights to planet Earth, which they intend to "harvest" (i.e. kill all humans and use their fluids to mass produce an eternal youth elixir, sold across the intergalactic firmament to profiteers of very wealthy stripes).  

A genetically modified albino hunter — part man, part wolf? — played by Channing Tatum takes Jupiter to outer space so they can sort out the politics. But mostly their journey consists of confusing jump cuts and Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne (pictured above) speaking very very quietly for long stretches and then SHOUTING FOR NO REASON!

Make no mistake, the Wachowskis are visionary filmmakers. I just wish their visions had been articulated by a more coherent screenwriter.  On a line-by-line level, the script is not quite as bad as this month's dreadful J-Lo vehicle The Boy Next Door. But the inability to translate the innovative premise into a digestible two-hour story won't be eclipsed any time soon.  


About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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