I had quite a journey today, to Neosho and then Arkansas, back to Joplin to complete work and then a wonderful hour spent with friends. However, it was an invitation from my grandson Dayan that took me on the farthest journey of all today…into the galaxy and the far reaches of space! I joined daughter Elissa and Dayan at the movie theater to watch Jupiter Ascending.
This action/sci-fi/adventure stars Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth and Tuppence Middleton. It was directed, and written by, The Wachowskis. Jupiter Ascending is rated PG-13 for intense scenes, violence, and brief partial nudity and has a run time of 2 hours and 7 minutes.
Jupiter Jones (Kunis), was supposed to have a great life. Her father, who died before his daughter was born, said so. He loved the stars and he believed his daughter, who was named after his favorite planet, had an amazing destiny before her. However, after Jupiter and her mother move to Chicago to live with family, she finds herself cleaning toilets in expensive mansions, and hating her life. It isn’t just the low paying cleaning job and the crowded family home. Her dislike of her life is driven by her boredom and her lack of desire, except for the deep desire for a telescope, like her dad owned.
Jupiter’s life changes when she meets Caine Wise (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, who is not of earth. He is a Splice, a human with wolf DNA spliced in. He has come to Earth to protect Jupiter from the treacherous Abrasax family, who rules this corner of the universe. The three Abrasax siblings. Balem (Redmayne), Kalique (Middleton) and Titus (Booth), are jostling for control of planet Earth. In fact, Jupiter’s world and her awareness expands as she discovers that there are many species populating the galaxy and earth is actually a farm. Once the population grows to the point of non-sustainability on Earth, the inhabitants will be harvested to create a youth serum that keeps the Abrasax family regenerated and able to live for tens of thousands of years. Their wealth has been accumulated through the sale of this much sought after elixir.
As if this new perspective is not shocking enough, Jupiter also discovers that the Abrasax family believes she is a genetic incarnation of their mother, who was murdered. According to the law, because of her genetic coding, Jupiter is the rightful owner of Earth. Each sibling tries to manipulate Jupiter, so as to gain control of Earth and its future harvest, and when manipulation fails, they attempt to take her life. She is rescued again, and again, by the warrior like Caine and his colleague Stinger (Bean), who is a Splice between a human and a bee and is also an ex-military man. At the heart of all the struggles over who not only controls Earth but is the rightful heir, is the planet itself and her inhabitants, who are at risk of being destroyed for profit.
This was a fun, fast paced, visually compelling film. I like sci-fi. I like having my imagination stretched by the possibility of worlds and species beyond what I can see here. Part of the appeal of the movie for me is that there is a whole universe that exists that the inhabitants of Earth are totally unaware of. It is like the Hobbits of the Shire, blind to what goes on in the larger world, or Alice in Wonderland who falls down a rabbit hole to discover a place and creatures she could not have imagined.
Jupiter herself is a Cinderella type character, who is more than she sees herself to be. It was time for her to raise her head and her awareness out of the toilet and see the stars and beyond. She discovers who she is, as she journeys through this larger than she could have believed space. While everyone else calls Jupiter “your majesty”, I like that this gutsy girl doesn’t just buy into what other people think of her. She emphatically states, as she comes into her own, “I am not your mother.” When she returns to Earth and the role she played there before, life is sweeter, more vibrant. She is truly alive and grateful to be.
I always enjoy actors Channing Tatum and Sean Bean. Both have fun in their roles. And the Abrasax siblings are chillingly beautiful and although long lived, dead inside. The eldest can barely speak above a whisper, unless rage seizes him. Their world has narrowed down to how they look, who they control and what profits can be made from harvesting planets. For all their beauty on the outside, frailty and a stench of decay surrounds them.
At one point, Dayan leaned over, after a particularly intense brawl through Chicago and whispered with a grin, “Epic chase scene!” I agreed. That scene contained the longest sequence in the film and had the most difficult stunts. It left me a bit breathless! This was a big, busy film, with several deeper messages to ponder. I appreciate Dayan and Elissa inviting me to see Jupiter Ascending.