tek's rating:

Jupiter Ascending (PG-13)
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Well. This movie did rather poorly, both critically and financially. Personally, I enjoyed it, but I certainly can't blame anyone who didn't. The visual effects were really cool, but the plot was kind of hard to follow. In fact, it takes quite awhile before you really start to get any kind of sense of what's going on. And even once you do, the plot just keeps bouncing around. I don't think it's actually a bad story, but most of the plot points were kind of cut and pasted together from better stories. (While watching the movie, at one point I thought the plot was just as modular as a lot of the technology in the film.) What it reminded me of more than anything else was probably "Dune," though I must say I've never read the book... and while I think I saw the 1984 movie at some point, and very probably the 2000 miniseries, I don't remember either one with any clarity. So it's hard for me to be sure, but I really do think "Jupiter Ascending" is probably largely a rip-off of that story. Some of the weirdness also kind of reminded me of The Fifth Element, but this movie is nowhere near as fun as that one. There's also a plot point that reminded me just a bit of In Time, crossed with "Soylent Green" (which I saw once, but don't remember beyond the famous reveal at the end). But all of those stories and probably a lot more are done on a much huger scale here... at least in theory. There is talk of thousands of worlds, but we never really see them. There are plenty of cool action scenes both on Earth and in space (and inside Jupiter- the planet, not the character who shares that name). But most of the scale of the story is delivered via exposition.

Anyway... it all begins with some scenes that are narrated by Mila Kunis, who plays the title character, Jupiter Jones. She tells us how her parents, Maximilian and Aleksa, met (in Russia), and fell in love. And then there's a scene with a very pregnant Aleksa. Max wanted to name their daughter "Jupiter," as he was big into astronomy. Aleksa was against that idea, but then some men break into their home and rob them, and Jupiter's father is killed in the process. (I did find it sort of tragic-yet-amusing that before the break-in, her mother said her daughter would be named Jupiter "over my dead body," and then when her husband is killed I couldn't help but think, "I guess it'll happen over his dead body.") Anyway, um... Jupiter is born on a ship en route to America, I guess.

The story then flashes forward to Jupiter and her mother and extended family living together in Chicago, where Jupiter, Aleksa, and Aleksa's sister work as house cleaners. Jupiter wants to buy an expensive telescope, and her cousin has a plan to get the money. I don't want to get into what that plan is, but... even before that happens, there's a scene involving aliens attacking a friend of Jupiter's. Jupiter takes a picture with her cellphone, but later both her and her friend's memories are wiped of the encounter. Later, aliens try to kill Jupiter herself, but she's rescued by a guy named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), who had been hired by someone named Titus Abrasax to find her. It turns out that Titus, as well as his brother Balem (Eddie Redmayne) and sister Kalique, each have their own separate interest in obtaining (or killing) Jupiter, for reasons I don't want to get into in any detail. I'll just say it involves a highly profitable alien business empire, and some very high stakes for the fate of everyone on Earth. Anyway... Caine is constantly doing his best to protect her from the minions of all three of them. He gets some help from an old comrade named Stinger Apini (Sean Bean), and eventually from the space cops (called "Aegis"), since the three Abrasax siblings are willing to break all kinds of space laws to get Jupiter. Though I also want to mention that Jupiter is more than just some damsel in distress (or worse yet, MacGuffin in distress). She does display some agency of her own, both in defending herself and making major decisions. (This, in spite of some very powerful people doing all they can to steal her agency, on top of trying to kill her.)

I guess I don't want to reveal any more of the plot (and really, this review reveals a lot less than most of my reviews do). Because, you know, it just sort of seems like the most important part of the whole story is Jupiter discovering a bunch of very surprising things about herself, and the Earth, and the place both she and it occupy in the grand scheme of the universe. And I feel like if she has to wait to learn those things, so should you. (But I will say that, as much as Jupiter becomes concerned with the fate of her family and the human race, there are actually lots of other planets whose fates she should have shown some concern over.) Oh... and looking at Wikipedia to write this review after watching the movie, I learned that Gugu Mbatha-Raw played one of the aliens in the movie. That's something I wish I would have realized while watching it, because I always like her... when I'm aware that I'm watching her. Which I wasn't, in this. Dammit. (But her character was pretty minor.)

Also, I thought Peter Quill would really love to get himself a pair of Caine's boots.


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