… Yes, that’s right, this is a movie review… on the internet (queue shock and awe). Now that you’re suitably impressed by my ability to sling words onto your screen at home, on with the movie review. On the whole, Jupiter Rising isn’t a bad move (high praise indeed). In fact, it’s a really, really good movie with some really, really obvious flaws. My feeling is that this movie was originally envisioned as a large, complex world with an impressive sci-fi/fantasy elements…. but then dumbed down to make it more approachable for the modern audience. Sometimes the dumbing down works, but in this case it really, really failed (that’s uber-really).
First the good stuff. The universe building is excellent, ranging from the space craft (creative, almost whimsical), to the costumes and aliens (pulled out all the stops), to even the odd high-brow concept of a new religion. There has clearly been a lot of time, effort, money that has gone into creating something new and innovative. This is the real star of the movie… and more of a reason to watch the movie a couple of times just for this.
Now that all the good stuff is out of the way (phew! so exhausting), in my mind the movie ultimately doesn’t work because of the main female lead, Jupiter Jones (played by Mila Kunis). All the creativity and effort has clearly gone into the universe, with not much left over for this character. She is a cross between Cinderella (rags -> riches -> rags?) and Louis Lane (without the pluck), who ultimately doesn’t make any real decisions. She is trapped by circumstance until the last few minutes of the film.
There is something about her not liking her life, and some extremely mild emotional growth (yah!! no apocalypse, so now she likes life and stuff), but ultimately she is not a character that I bonded with. The movie shoot her out of a cannon; where she bounced from one arm-twisting bad-guy to the next… only to be saved by an often shirtless Channing Tatum.
The acting is quite good (Tatum’s inner conflict works all the way through), and Mila Kunis did a reasonable job of fleshing out her 1-dimensional character. My gut feeling is that Jupiter Jones was intentionally dumbed down to protect the audience from all that exhausting thinking. And this, in my opinion, was a mistake. After all, Star Wars had complex characters in a complex world (and that was in the ‘70s), and nobody complained about all the boring thinking stuff.
Ultimately, I give this movie a C+ for story, but an A+ for the background universe.