The title of the Wachowskis’ latest action opus is Jupiter Ascending, though based on the media’s pre-release coverage, you might be under the impression that its full title is $175 million Jupiter Ascending. Or perhaps, $175 million Jupiter Ascending Which Was Pushed From the Summer and Dumped in February.
Yes, this is the sci-fi spectacle with pointy-eared Channing Tatum jet-booting between skyscapers to save Mila Kunis, who might be The One, a measly human who could be the key to the universe. (All references to The Matrix are intentional and bound to disappoint.) Kunis plays an oblivious Chicago cleaning woman named Jupiter Jones who has the identical DNA coding of the deceased Queen of the universe, giving her a claim to the ruthless dynasty that dominates the galaxy. The Queen’s three near-immortal children—one of whom is playing by Eddie Redmayne—would prefer Jupiter just died on Earth, so alien assassins are sent to rub her out. Tatum’s half-human/half-wolf hero named Caine Wise rescues her and opens her eyes to the greater world and her potential place in it.
It’s looks splendid. And ridiculous. It’s hard not to be a little curious about it, and it certainly seems like a film to see on the big screen. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a Jupiter and The Theory of Everything double-feature? “Insanely, Redmayne is presented as a formidable villain, shouting lines like ‘I create life!’ followed in a growly whisper with, ‘And I destroy it,’” writes EW’s Joe McGovern. “He’s impossible to take seriously as dangerous, but too mechanical to enjoy as camp [though] Jupiter Ascending won’t have any impact on Redmayne’s career or his Oscar chances.”
Read McGovern’s entire review, as well as a round-up of other notable critics, below.
Joe McGovern (Entertainment Weekly)
“Jupiter Ascending’s early cleverness dries up quickly, especially when Kunis is offscreen, leaving us with just another incoherent sci-fi spectacle. At least the Wachowskis know how to fill the screen. Shot by Braveheart cinematographer John Toll, the movie displays it’s visual gusto early with a dazzling dogfight over downtown Chicago.”
Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) ▼
“There’s no explaining Jupiter Ascending. There’s no way Jupiter Ascending isn’t making an appearance on my list of the Worst Films of 2015. This is a $175 million intergalactic train wreck sure to be invoked whenever and wherever Channing Tatum is the subject of a comedic roast. Compared to this dreck, Step Up is Singin’ in the Rain.”
Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Anyone who believes in conspiracies, or wonders about other dimensions, or loves technology, or is freaked out by technology, or questions what we call reality, or wonders how the world got started will find evidence in Jupiter Ascending that the Wachowskis have been thinking about all that, too. But they’ve been thinking longer, and better.”
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (The A.V. Club)
“What’s sort of remarkable is the way the Wachowskis manage to digest all of their high- and low-brow influences into something like a cohesive worldview … It might not be as compelling a synthesis of pop philosophy and geek tastes as The Matrix, but it feels personal in the way that big-budget, effects-driven movies rarely do.”
Manohla Dargis (New York Times)
“Jupiter Ascending … is a big, woozy, spacey fairy tale with a science-fiction exoskeleton and a core of pure mush. With its nods to the original Star Trek and David Lynch’s proto-steampunk hallucination Dune, it seduces the eye with filigreed flourishes even as the mind reels from some of the mildewy storytelling.”
Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times)
“The core problem with Jupiter Ascending is its language. The Wachowskis may be fine creators of soaring universes, but their dialogue couldn’t be more pedestrian, filled with thumping clichés delivered without a trace of irony.”
Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter)
“Even with all its familiar action tropes, less-than-fresh special effects and loopy plotting, the most depressing element in the Wachowski siblings’ latest sci-fi mash is that, as they conceive it, human society has been around for more than a billion years but is still presided over by a rivalrous British-style royal family that treacherously behaves as if it were the 1550s.”
Peter Debruge (Variety)
“Although clearly conceived as an empowered female heroine, poor Jupiter spends most of the movie being kidnapped and shuffled from one unpleasant situation to another, whether that’s being nearly assassinated during an egg-donating operation or pushed into a marriage with a two-faced Abraxas prince…”
Stephen Whitty (Newark Star-Ledger)
“Channing Tatum is the hero (we know this because he used to have wings. Also he goes Full Lautner, taking his shirt off early in the movie and rarely remembering to put it back on.) That this is what passes for character development has to be accepted in a Wachowski picture…”
Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald) ▼
“Kunis, who is normally a bright and intriguing presence onscreen … looks like she’s just trying to push through the movie without flubbing her lines and get out of there. Tatum fares better, rising above the material the way he usually does, although his character is so thin his name might as well have been The Good Guy.”
Ty Burr (Boston Globe)
“Playing the power-mad Balem Abrasax, the eldest of three warring siblings who rule the known universe, Redmayne speaks his lines in a tiny, weary whisper except when he YELLS THEM like a diva calling for her meds. It is a rapturously dreadful performance…”
Length: 125 minutes
Director: Andy and Lana Wachowski
Starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne
Distributor: Warner Bros.