Review: ‘Jupiter Ascending’ Is Like ‘Battlefield Earth’ Without The Excuse Of Scientology

Jupiter Jones, Bride Of The Space Wolf, Heir To The Time Fortune

Let’s not call Jupiter Ascending “so bad it’s good,” because that’s a reductive cliché. But have you ever seen a movie so consistently, compellingly ill-conceived that it made you feel better about some of the poor decisions you’ve made in your own life? That’s what Jupiter Ascending is. Going to law school is going to seem like it was a great plan compared to someone making Jupiter Ascending.

Here are some facts about Jupiter Ascending:

– Mila Kunis plays a character named “Jupiter Jones.”

– Jupiter Jones is a Russian immigrant born on a container ship (her father was English, hence “Jones”)

– Jupiter Jones is the queen of the universe, because of reincarnation

– Bees can sense royalty (yes, like actual bees)

– Ergo, Jupiter Jones, Queen of the Universe, can control bees

– Jupiter Jones, Queen of the Universe, Controller of Bees, controls bees in just one scene

– Eddie Redmayne’s character lives on a refinery inside the hurricane of Jupiter

– His refinery refines people into time

– Because time is the only currency in the universe

– He’s the oldest son of an ancient dynasty who controls the space-time industry, and Jupiter Jones is the reincarnation of their matriach

– This ancient dynasty “seeds” planets, then “harvests” them, hundreds of thousands of years later

– Because they are all many thousands of years old

– Because they are so rich, with time

Here are some facts about Channing Tatum’s character, an intergalactic bounty hunter created from wolf DNA.

– He was made from wolf DNA

– Because wolves make better soldiers

– He’s an albino

– He’s the “runt of the litter”

– His pointy ears wiggle when he hears stuff

– He can smell objects and piece together what happened there using his wolf skills

– He uses his wolf skills to piece together what happened in just one scene

– He used to have wings but they got cut off as punishment when he bit his commanding officer

– A wolf without a pack is incomplete or something (love interest!)

– Wolves can also sense royalty, and are hostile to it (love interest complication!)

– He wears boots that reverse gravity and allow him to “surf” through the air

– He actually says “surf” like it has air quotes around it when he explains this, it as if that were the only far-fetched part of the statement

– He carries an invisible, retractable shield

– He is essentially an intergalactic albino wolf bounty hunter with clipped wings and an invisible shield who can parkour around three dimensional space on hovering roller blades.

Look, if you go see Jupiter Ascending, it’s probably because you want to see a batshit ridiculous movie, and Jupiter Ascending is nothing if not batshit ridiculous. That being said, ridiculous movies are usually still about something. There are central characters with central desires forming the cake upon which all sorts of frosting flourishes and flowers and decorative marzipan figurines can be layered. Korben Dallas had to get Leelu Multipass to the temple because she (and love) was the fifth element and you need all five elements to stop the giant ball of space evil that’s about to consume Earth, as the prophecy foretold. Simple, right? Once that’s in place, you can add all kinds of evil industrialists, effeminate hypersexual radio hosts, gun-toting dog manatees, squid-headed opera singers, and everything else.

With Jupiter Ascending, THERE IS NO CAKE. It’s just handful after handful of bizarre-tasting frosting, and occasionally you bite down on a Skittle or a chicken bone. It’s like someone combined an airport sci-fi novel with an airport romance novel and put a firecracker in it. All the kooky flourishes – like C-Tates’ buddy who has the head of an elephant, say – would add a lot more value if the film wasn’t constantly failing the “where are they and what are they doing?” test. You can ask it all you want, but the only answer is ever “pew pew!”

At one point, Channing Tatum, the albino flying rollerblade wolf, has to pilot his space pod – which has wing thingies attached that he can control with his own hands sort of like Robot Jox – through a field of “war hammers,” which we gather are some kind of… uh… space mines? A zero-G spike strip? in order to get inside a massive space ship floating… uh… somewhere… where Jupiter Jones is about to marry Eddie Redmayne’s younger brother, her own space son, before a massive crowd of robots (…don’t ask). He wants to marry her, kill her, and inherit the Earth, you see. So far as I can tell, this whole thing is about the minutiae of intergalactic inheritance law.

And Eddie Redmayne. We can’t forget Eddie Redmayne. It’d be easy to just blame the actor for all of this, but the truth is, any director who saw this performance and didn’t try to stop it has even more to answer for. And this movie had two directors! It doesn’t end with them either. Manager, friends, his agent – especially his agent – someone should’ve stopped this. It looks as if Redmayne was inspired by the over-the-top hamminess of Gary Oldman in The 5th Element, but whereas Emmanuel Zorg was an eminently watchable, demented Bugs Bunny, a unique sort of a thing, Redmayne’s Balem Abrasex swishes around like Louis XIV and delivers his lines in a pained whisper that makes everything sound a little like “HURRRRRRR.” It seems like every actor has based their conceptions of king or queen on previous actors’ conceptions of king or queen, over and over on down the line until the phenomenon reached its logical conclusion, Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending, a character composed entirely of obnoxious affectations and actor tics. It is a disaster for the ages, an inbred monster of thespianic consanguinity, the Charles II of Spain of cinematic monarchs.

But again, it’s not entirely his fault. How can an actor conceive a character when that character’s objectives are conflicting and unclear? The movie isn’t really about anything, it’s just this massive ball of baubles and frosting. Which makes it not a very good story, but… not entirely uncompelling either. As bad a movie as it is, it’s also a singular event, a monument to strange and bizarre decisions stacked one on top of another. Jupiter Ascending is the Winchester Mystery House of movies, why shouldn’t they charge admission? Take a friend, point at the stairways to nowhere, gawp at the toilets built upside down.

SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT THOUGH THE MOVIE IS BASICALLY UNSPOILABLE: The most relatable moment of the movie comes at the very end, when Jupiter Jones is so utterly baffled by whatever the hell just happened in the previous 120 minutes that she decides she’d rather stay on Earth cleaning toilets than get involved in the universe-inheriting business. Us too, Jupiter. Us too.

Grade: Three baubles and a purple stuffed porcupine

Vince Mancini is a writer and comedian living in San Francisco. You can find more of his work on FilmDrunk, the Uproxx network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator. Fan FilmDrunk on Facebook, find the latest movie reviews here.