Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 13, 2015

‘Jupiter Ascending’ is as bad as you’ve heard

The Critic's Corner

David Laprad

Worst. Movie. Ever.

Hyperbole? Sure. But those were my thoughts in the moments after seeing “Jupiter Ascending.” I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen, or how bad it was.

Where do I begin? Perhaps with disbelief that someone gave the Wachowskis, who wrote and directed this opus disastrous, one hundred and seventy five million dollars to make it. I would’ve staged a real train wreck for half the money.

At some point, the Wachowskis, the two siblings who also wrote and directed “The Matrix,” had to pitch their story idea to an executive or an investor. No one gets that much money to make a movie without going over the story with the money people. And they were somehow able to get that person, or persons, to hop on board a starship headed for the planet Bug Nuts Insane. The meeting must have gone something like this:

Wachowskis: “So, there’s a janitor on Earth, who’s unaware that aliens seeded her planet 100,000 years ago so they could one day harvest its people in order to produce a youth serum. When the matriarch of the family that owns Earth dies, the janitor becomes the heir to her home planet because of her genetic similarity to the deceased. One would think learning you’re the queen of the planet would be great news, but the matriarch’s three children are at war over their inheritance, putting her in the line of fire. Fortunately, a genetically engineered warrior who’s half human, half wolf shows up to protect her. We’re going to give him a pair of anti-gravity boots to help him get around.”

Moneybags: “Sounds great! How much do you need?”

The problems with “Jupiter Ascending” fall under two categories: its heavy camp factor and muddled plotting.

Everything really needed to say about the film’s campiness can be summed up by transcribing this conversation between the janitor, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis). and her lupine-laced protector, Caine (Channing Tatum):

Caine: “Your majesty, I have more in common with dogs than I have with you.”

Jones: “I love dogs. I’ve always loved dogs.”

Perhaps the Wachowskis were paying homage to this classic, and admittedly campy, scene from “The Empire Strikes Back”:

Han Solo: “C’mon, admit it. Sometimes you think I’m alright.”

Leia: Occasionally - when you’re not acting like a scoundrel.”

Han Solo: “Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that.” (Begins rubbing Leia’s hands.)

Leia: “Stop that.”

Han Solo: “Stop what?”

Leia: “Stop that. My hands are dirty.”

But the script for “Jupiter Ascending” lacks the wit of Lawrence Kasdan’s dialogue for the “Star Wars” sequel. Instead of slowly ramping up the romance between Jones and Caine, the Wachowskis shoehorn it between the chases and fights through forced exchanges like the one above. They fall in love...because the script tells them to! It’s an arranged marriage on a galactic scale.

The “Honk if you love dogs” scene is not the only one that had people at the showing I attended scoffing. “Jupiter Ascending” provides enough fodder for ridicule to fill an entire episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

Add to that plot holes and muddled writing. Unless I missed something, the Wachowskis never explain how the family that seeded Earth learned about Jones’s genetic makeup, which is curious given that they regard Earthlings as little more than meat sacks.

Worse, I’ve rarely spent more time wondering what the

heck is going on in a movie. Conversations take place without context, motivations are unclear, and there are numerous

leaps in logic. (For example, one of the brothers convinces

Jupiter to marry him moments after they meet, as doing so

will save the human race - or so he says.)

You might have seen the trailers for “Jupiter Ascending” and thought the visuals look amazing. They do. But it’s hard to appreciate the sumptuous scenery when you can’t get over how goofy the movie is.

The Wachowskis also have a good eye for action, and put together some nice sequences. If only they’d wrestled over the story as skillfully as Caine takes on a roomful of aliens.

One star out of four. Rated PG-13 for violence, sci-fi action, suggestive content, and partial nudity. David Laprad is the assistant editor of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact him at dlaprad@hamiltoncountyherald.com.