Arts & Entertainment

REVIEW: While visually alluring, ‘Jupiter Ascending’ exhibits poor storytelling

"Jupiter Ascending" might excel in some of the most dynamic visuals so far this year, but the story fails in almost every area. Film critic Grant Fitzgerald reviews the film.

(Poster provided by
(Poster provided by

Most commonly known for “The Matrix” trilogy and the more recent “Cloud Atlas,” directors and siblings Lana and Andy Wachowski are recognized for bringing exceptional worlds to the screen. Unfortunately, the world construction in “Jupiter Ascending” is so convoluted and confusing, we never really know where the characters are. It’s not that the views aren’t spectacular or that this world isn’t interesting – it’s just that I spent way too much time wondering where I was and how it all related.

The story follows Russian immigrant Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) who lives with her mother, aunt, uncle and cousins and works as a maid in Chicago. She soon learns through a number of near kidnappings that she is actually the rightful heir to Earth, which evidently holds the most valuable substance in the galaxy. She is a reincarnation of a matriarch whose three children feud over their birthright.

Balem (Eddie Redmayne), the eldest of these siblings and determined to “harvest” the earth, sends bounty hunters to kill Jupiter. Luckily, an ex-military, wolf-human named Caine (Channing Tatum) is sent to rescue Jupiter from the assailants.

Unlike Redmayne, who either whispers almost every line in the film in his husky smoker’s voice or yells at ear-splitting octaves, Channing’s character brings the most appealing and entertaining performance to the film. Caine traverses both air and architecture using a really cool pair of anti-gravity boots – which work something like a pair of hovering roller-skates – creating some visually interesting action scenes.

Soon, Jupiter realizes she must take on her right to become ruler of Earth. This leads to one of my favorite scenes in the film where she goes through an intergalactic spaceport of sorts to acquire the paperwork necessary for her license of Earth. This scene is equally funny as it is relatable to those who must visit our local DMVs to acquire their driver’s license. Pay attention as this moment pays beautiful homage to Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.”

Sadly, besides some of the great CGI, costuming and makeup, there is little else good about “Jupiter Ascending.” The writing is terrible and downright comical, reminding me of how children’s television programs that inform the audience of every action and emotion being felt. The mess of a plot wouldn’t be difficult to understand if only it wasn’t so convoluted. (It was only through trying to explain to my friend what was happening that I entirely understood myself.)

“Jupiter Ascending” is certainly entertaining, especially in a theater filled with a rambunctious group of friends. And while the use of 3D was alright, I suggest you spend the extra four dollars on a snack. Or rather, don’t go at all and see a better film showing at your local cinema. Try “Paddington,” or any of the numerous Oscar nominees. Overall, “Jupiter Ascending” is a near-painful experience that makes me almost prefer watching one of the “Transformers” films.


Grant Fitzgerald is a senior film production major. This review reflects the view of the writer only. 

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