This one works as punishment.

This one works as punishment.

Oh my God.

Oh my God.

Jupiter Ascending is either the most infuriatingly idiotic movie of the year 2015, or the shiniest gem of hilariously terrible science fiction since Battlefield Earth. Either way, it’s hard to fathom that this was done by the same people who gave us The Matrix and Cloud Atlas. I mean it, folks. This one is really, reeeally bad! I would claim that the effects and visuals save it, but that would only be true if the movie was shot and edited in such a way that you can actually see anything.

Yes Kunis. That's exactly how mildly amused I would look when soaring around on the rocket boots of Peter

That’s exactly how mildly amused I would look when soaring around on the rocket boots of Peter “Wolfman” Quill.

Brought to us by Lana and Andy Wachowski (somehow), Jupiter Ascending focuses on a completely average Russian-American woman who cleans toilets in Chicago while wearing her prettiest makeup and ponytail, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis). With a constantly nagging family and no boyfriend, her life seems fairly boring, which is until she encounters a fierce one-man army named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), who flies around on his rocket boots to shoot bad guys and has pointy ears and fangs because he’s a genetic mixture between human and wolf. So he’s a cross between Star-lord and either Perryn from The Wheel of Time books or a furry. We’re off to a dignified start.

Jupiter learns from Caine that humanity is an older race than science books would have us think and that the planets of our solar system have all been owned by different royal families of alien humans, some of which use the life essence of harvested earthlings to stay young. Or something. Rule over Earth itself is nevertheless fought over by the children of the Abrasax family, Titus (Douglas Booth), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) and a third one, who all believe that Jupiter is a reincarnation of their dead mother – the true “Earth queen”.

Most dangerous is the oldest child, the disturbingly hammy Balem Abrasax, who hides within the “Great Red Spot” of Jupiter (the planet, thankfully), is allied with a race of winged lizard monsters and commands stealthy creatures that resemble Grey aliens. Balem Abrasax is played by Eddie Redmayne, doing Lord knows what with that performance of his. More on that later. Firstly our heroes have to fight off baddies, flee Planet Earth and meet up with Sean Bean, who (1) plays a guy who’s partially a honeybee, (2) accordingly lives in a house covered with beehives and (3) explains to Jupiter that bees are genetically engineered to “detect royality” after his bees start swarming her. I think I need to go lie down.

Our heroes meet many other genetically modified humans on their adventure once they reach space, but there is very little consistency to these humanoids and how they all look.

From Hawking to this; a fate worse than ALS.

From Hawking to this; a fate worse than ALS.

Why, for example, does the DNA-splicing affect entire faces of some humans but only, say, the ears of others? Why would you do that stuff in the first place? Does it have anything to do with this whole “slaughtering earthlings to create a substance that halts the aging process” story arc that for some reason doesn’t go anywhere? Are the monstrous lizards that work for Balem Abrasax also genetically modified humans? What about those random bounty hunters, then? What’s their deal? Why does that one bounty hunter played by Doona Bae have blue anime hair? Why does the other bounty hunter have feathers for a beard? Where do the bounty hunters even go after being in the movie for one single act? What is going on? Where am I? Christ almighty, what is this movie?!

Okay.

Jupiter watches as Kalique Abrasax replenishes her youth and beauty.

As you, dear reader, can no doubt interpret, this movie left me pretty stumped and confused. Most of it, I theorize, has to do with how many subplots and concepts it tries to cram into the span of two hours, all while still leaving room for lousy action scenes. It tries to be so many things simultaneously that it becomes a mess for the historians. People involved in its production have been claiming that science fiction like this has never been done before, a sentiment which is 100% correct if you disregard the very existence of such works as Star TrekSignsThorGuardians of the Galaxy, Men in Black, Man of Steel, Treasure PlanetJohn Carter, Hitchhiker’s Guide and pretty much all of the Star Wars movies.

Really, the only scene in this movie that I actually quite like is this one, tone-wise totally misplaced part where the characters reach a space habitat full of bureaucratic androids, who force Jupiter to go through increasingly complicated and pointless paperwork before she may claim the title of Earth queen. The scene is a brilliant homage to Terry Gilliam‘s Brazil made even better when Gilliam himself appears at the end of it as a weird, steampunk-looking minister. I sure wish the rest of the movie was this clever and (deliberately) funny.

To comment on the performances for a while, there’s nothing worth praise. Mila Kunis never shows a shred of the “everyday human” relatability the movie so desperately wants her to have, least of all when the weird sci-fi madness that surrounds her barely seems to faze her, so you’ll most likely spend less time caring about Jupiter as a character and more time staring at Mila Kunis’ lazy left eye. Channing Tatum is of course bland like only he knows how, and oh dear Eddie Redmayne, what in God’s name have they done to you? Was this why the Wachowskis decided to push this film’s release date from October 2014 to February 2015? Was it to ruin Redmayne’s career out of spite by making sure we got to behold a performance this hysterical directly after the exact same actor knocked it out of the park with the wonderful Theory of Everything? I don’t even know how to properly describe it! It’s like he was going for a mix between the Galaxy Quest aliens and Tim Heidecker.

Jupiter ascending in 'Jupiter Ascending'.

Jupiter ascending in ‘Jupiter Ascending’.

This isn’t just a movie that doesn’t try to be good; it doesn’t even try to be watchably comprehensible! Throughout Jupiter Ascending, random characters and plot points come and go so sporadically that you spend every other scene wondering what in the name of Santa this movie’s actually about. The over-arching storyline is thus nonsensical and it doesn’t help that the action sequences are so mercilessly long, hideously shot, and disorientingly edited that the creators of Transformers 4 would envy these people’s ability to try so hard to be exciting that they end up not just boring the audience, but outright exhausting them. There’s nothing “exciting” about trying to wrap your head around a series of barely distinguishable events that happen in no discernible order and for no apparent purpose.

The film is also ill-structured in that it appears to have two climaxes; one where Caine has to save Jupiter from being forced to marry Titus before it’s too late, and one where Caine has to save Jupiter from legally giving up her rule of Earth to Balem Abrasax in exchange for her captured family before it’s, you guessed it, too late. Oh, and please, do by no means get me started on this film’s messed-up, non-existent understanding of how space works. Trust me, the fact that the Great Red Spot of Planet Jupiter, a hurricane enormous enough to contain three Earths in real life, is only a wee bit bigger than the tiny little one-man spacecraft that Channing Tatum flies through it in Jupiter Ascending is only the beginning of how this movie fails at science forever. So I’ll leave you with that.

In summation, Jupiter Ascending has everything! It’s unoriginal, nonsensical, tone-deaf, badly acted, lamentably written, visually monotonous, and just so unbearably bloated in both its so-called plot and its relentless action that, for all its unintentional funniness, this is still a damn near impossible movie to actually sit through. The only thing this film has going for it, again, is the Terry Gilliam sequence, which we can only hope will give life to a better film at some point in the Wachowskis’ future, preferably one that doesn’t try to be so many things at once and somehow failing at all of them. Before that day arrives, I am going to pitch a crossover between this movie and immortal sci-fi classic After Earth. I can see it front of me now – Caine Wise teams up with Cypher Raige to form a “silly names” duo, all while Jaden Smith becomes evil and joins forces with Eddie Redmayne, who will teach him the right pitch at which to squeal “NO DAD”.

 1/5 whatever

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