Jupiter Ascending wasn’t a movie that performed well with critics.
The reasons are pretty clear for any of those who’ve watched the ambitious space opera: it’s unnecessarily grandiose, it features a handful of overcooked performances, and it leans so heavily on CGI that you quickly forget about any intended realism.
All these things (and a few more) serve to obscure all the small things that make Jupiter Ascending enjoyable, though.
On its surface, Jupiter Ascending is a story about an average woman who is unwittingly born as the heir to an intergalactic fortune built on harvesting the population of the Universe’s various living beings. That summary in and of itself goes a long way to describing the movie, interesting, yet a little dry and trying far too hard to be something bigger than it needs to be.
What works about it is the love story between protagonist Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), the genetic reincarnation of an ultra-rich “Entitled” and Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a man genetically spliced with wolf DNA, deliberately bred for war.
There’s the predictable issue of a class barrier between the toilet-scrubber-turned-royalty and disgraced former mostly-human solider, but the heart of their romance lies in the wholesome nature of their budding relationship.
Both characters are driven by their desire for one another, although it’s never depicted as anything problematic. These are two people thrown into a situation that neither one is fully equipped to deal with, and they come out of it as hopelessly entwined as you’d imagine, but it never feels overly forced. In fact, the relationship between Jones and Wise is probably the most organic thing about the entire movie.
There’s plenty of things about Jupiter Ascending to poke holes in, laugh at, or utterly dismiss. It’s laughable where it tries to be serious, dull where it tries to be emotional, and predictable where it tries to be interesting, but somehow that only serves to make it a truly unique experience that’s actually worth having.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hardly a masterpiece, and it’ll take you on a journey that you probably could have written yourself by hashing together a few common tropes of various genres and plastering over the cracks with A-Listers and mediocre CGI, but it’ll still keep you entertained for a couple of hours, and you won’t despise the experience.
Jupiter Ascending is a spectacle in both good ways and bad, but whichever side of its divided audience you fall into, you’ll have plenty to think about.