“Jupiter Ascending” has great visuals but disappoints on every other front

“Jupiter Ascending” is the kind of movie that one might enjoy on mute, with no subtitles. Visually, this movie can be astounding. Mind-numbing fight scenes, ridiculous explosions and self-indulgent shots of alien landscapes abound, but the rest of the film’s utter lack of coherent writing steals the show.

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Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones, a Russian maid who turns out to be the queen of the universe. Her love interest is one Caine Wise, a half–man–half–wolf played by Channing Tatum. Both of their performances are over-the-top and often had me rolling my eyes. The cast is rounded out by Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne, however, who did the best they could with the parts they were dealt. Beyond these two, the other actors are forgettable, if only because the storyline constantly introduces new characters and has them disappear without a trace.

Directed by the Wachowskis, who are famous for “The Matrix” series, “V for Vendetta” and “Cloud Atlas,” “Jupiter Ascending” has all the scope and budget of its predecessors, if not their success in realization. The film’s release was delayed six months to perfect the visual effects, which are admittedly top-notch, but between that and the $176 million spending allowance, I wonder how much time and money the Wachowskis actually invested into the rest of the film.

The film’s plot is convoluted, confusing and not cohesive. The audience feels flung into new scenes without clear transitions and is left wondering how they got there, especially at the beginning of the film. Events are either predictable or nonsensical, and everything feels cliché and underdeveloped. The film attempts to make statements on monarchies, bureaucracy and capitalism, but the critiques are half–baked and shallow. The ending is particularly bad.

Probably intended to be an empowering flick with a leading heroine, “Jupiter Ascending” is nothing of the sort. Jupiter Jones only ever finds herself playing the damsel in distress, fawning over a distant bad boy or being duped by obvious ploys to steal her inheritance. Her complete inefficacy is tiring to watch and makes me hope this female archetype is finally on its way out.

The dialogue is laughably bad. After the first two minutes of every unbearably drawn-out fight scene I would crave something with more than grunts for dialogue, but when scenes with dialogue finally came around, I was just as keen on switching back to the grunts. Even improvised dialogue probably would have been better.

“Jupiter Ascending” is not a good movie. The visuals and the score aren’t half-bad, but everything else is disappointing. Hopefully this will not become a trend in sci–fi films this year. I recommend this film only to people who enjoy laughing at bad movies.

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