Jupiter Ascending - A bit of a dog's breakfast - 2 stars

"I like dogs"Jupiter Jones

Overall rating: 2 stars
Cinematic rating: 2 stars
Family value: 2 stars
Walking into the cinema...
When will The Matrix stop being the benchmark for the Wachowski siblings careers? There is hope that their innovative brilliance can present itself again. Unfortunately, there is not much hope for Jupiter Ascending, due to the production issues with this film. Regardless of the bad press leading up to the release of this film, can this be the one to pull them out of their decline into directorial mediocrity?

Plot Summary
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) hates her life. She lives as an illegal alien in Chicago. Born under  majestic stars on arrival to the land of promise, Jupiter seemed to be born for a charmed life. The reality of her life seems to be different than the stars proclaimed, a life of cleaning toilets for the rich and envying their lives. Then Caine (Channing Tatum) enters her life, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, that introduces her to the realities of the universe and her status as a galactic princess. Jupiter is part of a royal heritage that rules the universe and she gets pulled into the family battle of the Abrasax siblings. She must quickly determine where her loyalties reside, with her earthly family or in her broader responsibilities in the universe. 

      The poet Robert Browning provided us with the powerful phrase, less is more. A concept that the directors of Jupiter Ascending should have considered. This film is an example of trying to do too much in one film. The Wachowski siblings (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas) seem to be lost in their own world. They do not seem to know what message they are trying convey. Is this meant to be a groundbreaking sci-fi epic, a philosophical discussion on reincarnation and the potential effects it has on the universe, a conscience blow to the atrocities of materialism and misuse of the environment, a Saturday matinee style adventure or a desperate attempt to get their directing careers back on track? Whatever they were attempting to communicate, the message gets lost in the delivery. The directors have never fully recovered from the success of the The Matrix. Their attempt to find the same cutting edge vision has caused them to lose sight of one essential component of film-making, good story should drive the film. Eddie Redmayne, Mila Kunis and Sean Bean are left with weak dialogue that cause inappropriate times of laughter from the audience. The poor acting performances cannot be blamed solely on the actors or even on their agents for getting them connected with this film, but on the weak script and the convoluted story. The story has whispers of Greek mythology and conveys a sci-fi re-telling of self-absorbed creators who manipulate the universe for their own selfish purposes. The Oedipus situation even gets a nod within the storyline, which adds an unnecessary creepiness to the experience. Even with these whispers to stories of old, the story does not get off the ground. The hope for the film lies in the special effects. The release delay of this film was attributed to additional work in this area, which are good, but not ground breaking. The directors could have taken from George Lucas' lesson book and realise that good CGI cannot hide a poorly executed film. It may not be good form to kick a dog, or in this case, a spliced species, when it is down, but there is not much to praise about this film. 
         The content of the film is relatively benign. It contains a certain level of science fiction violence, but besides one bath scene, the film is surprisingly tame for a Wachowski production. Like most of their portfolio, there is a heavy reliance on Eastern mysticism and reincarnation as a story vehicle. This component of the film can lead to considerations of the afterlife and does show that this method of 'rebirth' is a vicious and hopeless view of life after death. The potential for good discussion on topics like materialism, the environment and the after-life do present themselves, but with the muddled script, most of the discussion after the film seemed to be on the pitiful direction of the Wachowski's careers. 

Leaving the cinema...
'I like dogs.' Unfortunately, this was one of the best lines in the film. This line did get the biggest laugh during the screening. It was an example of the weakness of the script and that it was a bit of a 'dog's breakfast'. The Wachowskis have proven that they can write good story lines, but even though The Matrix was a ground breaking experience, Jupiter Ascending was a heart breaking one. 

Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
1. What happens after death? (John 11:25, 1 Corinthians 15:51-57)
2. What is our purpose in the universe? (Proverbs 16:9, Romans 8:28)
3. Is God selfish? (John 14:31, 1 John 4:10)

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews