- Feb 20, 2001
- Livonia, MI USA
- Real Name
- Kenneth McAlinden
If ever a genre seemed tailor made for Andy and Lana Wachowski's trademark blend of big action and big ideas, it is space opera. Jupiter Ascending presents their spin on the genre made recently resurgent by the phenomenal success of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC, 1080P/MVC, 480I/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Other
Run Time: 2 Hr. 7 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, UltraVioletStandard sized Blu-ray case with hinged tray with hubs on both sides enclosed in slipcover with lenticular 3D image
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer), DVD-9 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/02/2015
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
Directed by: Andy & Lana Wachowski
Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Maria Doyle Kennedy
In Jupiter Ascending, Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, a young woman who emigrated with her mother (Kennedy) from Russia as a child after the tragic death of her father. She makes her living as a maid In Chicago where she lives with her large extended family. Convinced by a cousin to make the family a few thousand bucks by donating eggs at a fertility clinic, she is suddenly attacked by the workers who are revealed to be aliens. After being saved from her attackers by Caine Wise (Tatum), a human gene spliced with wolf DNA. She finds out that she is the genetic recurrence of the matron of one of the universe’s most powerful families, the Abrasaxes. She also learns that she is the heir to her predecessor's holdings, which include the Earth. This makes her a pawn in the political and economic battles waged by her predecessor's three children (Redmayne, Booth, and Middleton), setting her off on a space spanning series of adventures to claim her inheritance while negotiating the cutthroat complexities of the Abrasax family business.
Jupiter Ascending works sporadically on a sequence by sequence basis, but it is saddled with a frustratingly passive protagonist, annoyingly cartoonish antagonists, and too many big ideas than it has the time or inclination to contend. The character of Jupiter Jones does little beyond getting stuck in a cycle of being trapped and rescued repeatedly by Caine Wise. There is nothing particularly wrong with Kunis' performance, it really just boils down to a tepidly conceived character. By the end of the film, she seems modestly better at running away from danger than she was earlier, but that is the extent of her growth. Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Balem, the most villainous of the Abrasax siblings, is so cartoonish and affected that it is almost impossible to perceive him as a legitimate threat, even when he is trying to kill families and destroy worlds.
Around and in between all of the capturing and rescuing, the Wachowskis have interwoven enough big ideas and world-building to fill up half a dozen movies. There's an alternate origin for humanity, a genetically spliced underclass, a sledgehammer subtle analogy for capitalistic consumption, political intrigue, hidden agendas, family drama, explanations for bee behavior, a half dozen or so unique environments, shame and redemption arcs for a few characters, a bureaucratic montage with an undeniably great cameo, a quirky family of Russian immigrants, and a light sprinkling of references to the Wizard of Oz, all of which are under-served by the filmmakers.
If one accepts that fact that none of this is going to be done justice over two hours plus credits, the film does have some discrete pleasures to be found in audaciously conceived design elements and individual sequences. My personal favorite is an aerial chase through the skies of Chicago at dawn. It's an incredibly visceral blend of editing, effects, stunts, architecture, and magic hour cinematography that is unlike anything I have seen before (including the full daylight aerial chase sequence through the same city from last summer's Transformers: Age of Extinction.)
Jupiter Ascending Playlist
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: 4/5
The 3D version of the film is rendered via a 1080p MVC encoded presentation on a dual-layered Blu-ray disc with no extras. The 2D version of the film is rendered via a 1080p AVC encoded presentation on a dual-layered Blu-ray disc. Both presentations are near reference quality with an impressive range of contrast and detail. The 3D presentation is one of the better 3D conversions I have seen with only a couple of instances of slight jitter around some foreground elements. While the majority of the shots are set-up to provide depth effects, there are a occasional foreground projections for fans of pop-out 3D. Two sequences involving Channing Tatum piloting a spaceship in rescue attempts - one through a phalanx of robots and the other through an amorphous cloud of gases, are visually hard to track, but they are equally confusing in 2D.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Both the 3D and 2D Blu-rays have the film's original English language soundtrack presented in Dolby Atmos which is carried as a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track. I do not have an Atmos set-up or decoder, but was thoroughly impressed by what I heard. Fidelity is outstanding across dialog, music, and effects tracks. Effects and music are spread wide and precisely through the entire sound field and nicely compliment the similarly impressive visuals.
The 3D presentation has additional audio and subtitle options not available on the 2D Blu-ray. The 2D Blu-ray includes alternate 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks in English DVS, French, Spanish (Latin), and Portuguese with available subtitles in English SDH, French, Spanish (Latin), and Portuguese. The 3D Blu-ray has an additional Dolby Digital 5.1 track in Thai and additional subtitle options in Chinese, Chinese (simplified), Korean, Croatian, Estonian, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Thai.
Dolby Atmos Update from Adam: Now that I am equipped for Dolby Atmos at home, I re-watched this. While the movie didn't get any better, the sound became more immersive for certain scenes. The battle in Chicago where Jupiter and Caine Wise are ambushed really played out overhead thanks to the Dolby Atmos mix.
Special Features Rating: 1.5/5
When the disc is first played, the viewer is greeted with the following promos presented in high definition video:
- San Andreas Theatrical Trailer (2:11)
- Pan Theatrical Trailer (2:33)
Jupiter Jones: Destiny is Within Us (6:56) is a character profile of Jupiter Jones as played by Mila Kunis. Comments are provided by Mila Kunis (“Jupiter”), Writer/Director Lana Wachowski, Channing Tatum (“Caine Wise”), Tuppence Middleton ("Kalique Abrasax"), Eddie Redmayne "(Balem Abrasax"), and Writer/Director Andy Wachowski.
Cain Wise: Interplanetary Warrior (5:18) is a character profile of Cain Wise as played by Channing Tatum. Comments are provided by Lana Wachowski, Tatum, Make-up and Hair Designer Jeremy Woodhead, Costume Designer Kym Barrett, Sean Bean (“Stinger Apini”), Kunis, and UK Stunt/Fight Coordinator Benjamin Cooke.
The Wachowskis: Mind Over Matter (7:25) focuses on the writer/director siblings behind the film’s conception and production. Tatum, Kunis, Bean, Middleton, Redmayne, Douglas Booth ("Titus Abrasax"), VFX Supervisor Dan Glass, Woodhead, Tim Pigott-Smith (“Malidictes”), Kick Gurry (”Vladie”), Lana Wachowski, James D’Arcy (“Maximilian Jones”), Doona Bae (“Razo”), Maria Doyle Kennedy (“Aleksa”), Andy Wachowski, Terry Gilliam (“Seal & Signet Minister”), David Ajala (“Ibis”), Producer Grant Hill, and Edward Hogg (“Chicanery Night”).
Worlds Within Worlds Within Worlds (9:36) focuses on the diverse space-spanning environments of the movie and how they were conceived and realized. Comments are provided by Kunis, Lana Wachowski, Hill, Barrett, Woodhead, Tatum, Glass, Bean, Booth, Andy Wachowski, Middleton, and Redmayne.
Jupiter Ascending: Genetically Spliced (10:25) covers the film’s conception of the genetically spliced characters in the film as well as the practical and digital ways in which they were realized. Comments are provided by Pigott-Smith, Bean, Woodhead, Glass, Tatum, Hogg, Barrett, Ariyon Bakare (“Greeghan”), Cooke, and Middleton,
Bullet Time Evolved (9:35) looks at how the action sequences were conceived and realized. Comments are provided by Glass, Lana Wachowski, Stunt Performer Taïg Khris, Tatum, Andy Wachowski, Kunis, and Redmayne.
From Earth to Jupiter (and Everywhere in Between) (9:34) centers around the universe building efforts of the Wachowskis and the perspectives of their collaborators on it. Comments are provided by Kunis, Hogg, Bean, Pigott-Smith, D’Arcy, Andy Wachowski, Kennedy, Bakare, Gurry, Glass, Middleton, Booth, Tatum, Redmayne, Hogg, and Lana Wachowski.
SD DVD This 3-disc combo pack also includes an SD DVD of the film which is presented in it 16:9 enhanced standard definition video with 384 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English, English DVS, French, and Spanish with available subtitles in English SDH, French, Spanish.
When the SD DVD is first played, the viewer is greeted with the following series of skippable promos:
- San Andreas Theatrical Trailer (2:10)
- Pan Theatrical Trailer (2:34)
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Theatrical Trailer (2:34)
- Focus Home Video Trailer (2:34)
- Mad Max: Fury Road Theatrical Trailer (2:32)
- Batman vs Robin Home Video Trailer (1:23)
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Andy and Lana Wachowski's Jupiter Ascending is hampered by a frustratingly passive protagonist and filled to the brim with big ideas and concepts to which it fails to do justice. While it is punctuated by a handful of impressively staged sequences, there is not quite enough jaw-dropping to justify all of the head scratching. The Blu-ray presentations have top-notch video and audio, both in 2D and converted 3D incarnations. Extras consist of a series of featurettes that have a lot of standard electronic press kit mutual praise talking heads with occasional glimpses behind the scenes of the production.
Reviewed By: Ken_McAlinden
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