The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Written & Directed by The Wachowskis
There is one glaring problem with the visually stunning, science fiction epic, Jupiter Ascending, from the Wachowskis. Well two things really. And they’re staring you right in the face the entire time. Arguably the two most important things in any movie; the two lead actors. I loved everything about Jupiter Ascending except for the one thing that can turn an otherwise great movie into a bad one; Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum could not act their way out of a paper bag! And it’s a shame because Jupiter Ascending is a fun, sweeping, epic tale of intergalactic dynasties and sibling rivalries that burn at the core of every inhabited planet in the known universe. There are hybrids of major species. Like lizards with eagle wings and robots and spaceships. And at the center, two duds. But because I liked the story, I’m gonna spare you guys a spoiler-filled rant.
But I’m still gonna rant though.
Instead lets talk about Mila Kunis. I love me some Mila Kunis. She is very cool. Not a very wide acting range but she is likable, funny and good-looking. Like Matthew McConaughey was back before he found his acting chops. And I love her in action films, but she is at her best when she’s playing an Eddie Murphy type. Every word out of her mouth should be a wise-crack or some biting sarcasm. This is her wheelhouse. She’s funny. The three best lines in Jupiter Ascending are her being funny or sarcastic. She’s not the damsel in distress that the Wachowskis have cast her as. She’s the cool chick laughing in the face of danger. I love her too much to have to blame her for this. You’re making me blame her for this. And while she is to blame for this, it’s not her fault.
Channing Tatum on the other hand, can not be saved. He stinks. These are both very hot people but don’t make them emulate emotions. It’s painful to watch. Interestingly enough, had Mila Kunis played this part for the comedy, which I think would have worked so much better, Channing Tatum’s stoned-faced wolf-boy would have been her perfect straight man. Give Mila some jokes and Channing’s character, with his sour-puss acting style, would benefit hugely from it. Also give them some down-time to fall in love. Because if all they’re doing is running. And all he’s doing is saving her life again and again. She’s not in love with him. She’s in love with the fact that he saves her life. Will someone in Hollywood please stop confusing these two things. But anyway.
Jupiter Ascending is spared because of its gorgeous special effects and exciting chase scenes and dog-fights and fight scenes. And the gadgets are super-cool. Especially Channing’s anti-gravity boots. And the creatures are awesome. And the costumes are awesome. And the worlds are awesome. Have I said yet how visually stunning this film is? Because if you look-up the phrase visually stunning in the online movie reviewers handbook you’ll see a picture of any frame of this movie right here.
Jupiter Ascending is spared because the story is this beautiful cross between Herbert and Asimov. And the style is all Fifth Element meets Tarsem Singh meets Terry Gilliam. So much so that at one point Terry Gilliam shows up to tell the Wachowskis to cut that shit out (not really but it’s still very funny). And the other actors are great from Sean Bean to Eddie Redmayne and all points in between. It’s just those two. The main two.
Let me put it this way. There are two large paper sacks. Each one with a name on it. One says Mila Kunis and the other says Channing Tatum. And the Sack Master (That’s his name. He puts people into paper sacks) comes along and places both Mila and Channing into their respective sacks. And all they have to do is to not be themselves. Just pretend to be another person. That’s all it would take to make the Sack Master think he’s made a mistake and let them out. This was not always the case. Traditionally people had to punch their way out of his sacks or even dance. But on occasion, some barely decent acting would get you set free. What I’m saying is, neither Mila Kunis nor Channing Tatum could act their way out of a paper bag. But anyway that was a little sneak peek at my new horror series: Sack Master. SACK MASTER, he puts people into paper sacks. (sometimes they’re wet… it’s very scary). But I digress.
Jupiter Ascending is a gorgeous, epic, sci-fi, space adventure that only suffers when the main characters open their mouths. It’s just that they open their mouths a lot.