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Jupiter Ascending (Blu-ray Review)

Jupiter-AscendingFrom the creators of “The Matrix” Trilogy comes “Jupiter Ascending,” an original science fiction action adventure from filmmakers Lana and Andy Wachowski.  Channing Tatum (“Magic Mike,” “Foxcatcher”) and Mila Kunis (“Oz the Great and Powerful”) lead a cast that includes Sean Bean (“The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy), Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), Douglas Booth (“Noah”), Tuppence Middleton (“The Imitation Game”), Doona Bae (“Cloud Atlas”), James D’Arcy (“Hitchcock”) and Tim Pigott-Smith (“Alice in Wonderland”).  From the streets of Chicago to far flung galaxies whirling through space, “Jupiter Ascending” is written and directed by the Wachowskis. Award-winning producer Grant Hill, with whom they have collaborated since “The Matrix” Trilogy, produced the film, together with Lana and Andy Wachowski. Roberto Malerba and Bruce Berman serve as executive producers.

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Film 

Jupiter Jones was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along—her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

Jupiter Ascending is a visually marveling tale carrying the load with a tired base journey and some clunky details in the script.  But somehow it still manages to be a fun journey with an impressive array of creatures, worlds, tech and world building when it makes its way to the finishing line.  Its a film that polarized audiences upon its release back in February, and I was in the minority  when my opinion was that I found it merely “Ok” and was able to take enough from it to have an appreciation and desire to seek out consequential views.  Am I a Wachowskis apologist?  Maybe, but they really are some of the most bold, unique and imaginative modern filmmakers we have in this day and age.

Jupiter’s story is that of another “chosen one” tale that we are seemingly flooded with nowadays in light of the young adult adaptations craze.  However, if its the Wachowskis doing it (And doing it again at that), then I’m interested in seeing their side of things.  The film finds fault in that its stuffing a bit too much in this one adventure and has some skreeching dialogue at times taking it along its way.  Everything works from start to finish, but there is plenty of fat that could have been trimmed and details done without that could have made this space opera a tighter and better paced one.

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One area that could have been trimmed are our villains, the Abrasax siblings.  We have three of them and it really could have been just two.  Personally I would have meshed the two male ones and given the sister more to do in the plot.  What this ends up doing is crafting 2 climaxes of the film where you could have had one big fluid sequence to end the film in grand style.  However what you get almost amounts to a false start as the stakes are there and you feel it adding up, but then a break is taken and we have to set up another.  Maybe they could have had the characters and their endgames a little more closer to one another and working together, but here it just feels excessive in the end.

While I thought there was one too many a character in that area, I do enjoy the ones we get provided with here both large and small.  The Wachowskis have crafted a world in this movie that feels very thought out, well orchestrated and very much lived in.  It feels that its existed for eons and that this film clearly isn’t the first adventure in it.  There is so much more to be explored.  Jupiter Ascending features so many different creatures, technology, ships and worlds that don’t feel the slightest bit bloated.  They are presented in such a natural and lived in state that it never feels bloated or that its trying too hard.

When it comes to the action, the Wachowskis’ definitely deliver.  While I don’t think this is their best work, its still head and shoulders above many CGI heavy actioners around.  They don’t waste their time with fast cuts and shaking stuff around at every point.  Things are clean, clear, focused and at times have that feeling like you’re on an amusement park ride.  During some of the sequences, there are moments with slowed up people floating in air or a ship or something that look absolutely gorgeous, 3-dimensional and stunning.  Heck, there are a lot of beautiful looking sets and shots in this film that your television and Blu-ray player are going to make sweet love to.

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There’s a pretty solid cast assembled here in Jupiter Ascending.  Channing Tatum continues to show his superstar chops with a role that shows a bit more range to his talents.  He’s full on, all-in committed to the part man-part wolf-all badass Caine.  Eddie Redmayne gives us a really weird and creepy performance, but its one that sort of helps the camp and future cult value of the film.  For veteran classiness we also latch on to Sean Bean, who has some solid chops in the movie (Does he live or die? You’ll have to see).  The younger brother and sister Abrasax are both actors I’m not too familiar with, but they were decent enough.

Mila Kunis in this film, I’m both hot and cold on.  To me, she’s an actress that can be good in the right film, but will stick out like a sore thumb and appear goofy in ones that she doesn’t work in or has a cast of people that will lap her.  Here its a bit of both.  When we’re on Earth and earlier scenes with her family and her job mixed with early discover of the film’s plot, she does a fine job.  The more fantasy the film gets, the more hit and miss she becomes.  Mila looks like she feels uncomfortable in some sequences and overall doesn’t really believe the world she’s trying to sell us on, and therefore it makes it a bit tougher on us the audience.  That said, I do think she works well enough for this not to be a complete failure.

I’m not going to try and tell you Jupiter Ascending is some hidden masterpiece that everyone was wrong about.  But, its far from a complete failure of a movie.  There are many aspects of this film to appreciate and see for their true value.  On this second viewing, I actually like the film a bit more than the first time, which makes me eager to see it a third.  I can see the faults in the film and acknowledge them, but they became a little lesser this time out and I think it does enough to overcome them.  Personally, I enjoy a film where there are some rough edges, it does take chances and is willing to accept some losses on its way to the finish.  I’d much rather spend time and discuss a unique vision that sits as a noble failure than something playing it safe to be average and mediocre any day.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  As you could guess, the picture quality on this film is tremendous.  Its sharp, clear and full of every little detail.  From cracks in paint on a wall to a smudge on a glossy instrument, everything here is kept in tact and almost like you could touch it.  The image is very glossy and full, popping off the screen without the aid of 3-D (which there is a 3-D version available for those that need that).

Depth:  Everything here is loose, free and perfectly place in its environment.  Movement is free and smooth.  Background images are well focused and clear, showing plenty of detail even when there’s an emphasis on a character or object in the foreground.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and rich.  No detail is hidden in them.  Mila Kunis’ dark locks are still individualized and noticeable to the follicle.  Darker clothing still manages to show patterns and texture.

Color Reproduction:  It’s a Wachowski film that isn’t in The Matrix world, so you know colors are going to look pretty damn amazing here.  Purples, Blue, Reds and just about anything that wants to stand out does.  They look lavish, rich and totally gorgeous.

Flesh Tones: Natural and consistent.  A little more on a bronzy side, but of the slightest.  Detail is very high as you can make out stubble, make up, skin brandings, wrinkles, freckles…really everything is covered.

Noise/Artifacts: Are you kidding me? Moving on.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Dynamics:  Dear brick and mortar stores…HERE’S your demo disc.  This film features an outstanding audio presentation that takes FULL advantage of your home system.  Your viewing area will erupt with action and give you every bit of feeling to being a part of the action.  Only thing missing is some sort of D-Box like chair.

Low Frequency Extension:  Holy cats this thing booms and pows.  Blasters provide a nice punch, buildings get destroyed rumble, ships shake the room.  Your sub will show off its range and power with this Atmos track.  You’re going to love it.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Every battle takes advantage of all 7 speakers.  From Caine’s rocket shows making a 360 through  your room to ships flying from behind you to the front, you’ll be exhilarated with Jupiter Ascending‘s attention to placement, volume and detail throughout the duration of this journey.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp, clean and clear.  Its audible no matter the volume of the destruction surrounding it.

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Extras 

Jupiter Ascending comes with a DVD Copy and Digital Copy of the film.

Jupiter Jones: Destiny Is Within Us (HD, 6:56) – Mila Kunis, along with the Wachowskis discuss ins and outs of the character Jupiter in the film.

Caine Wise: Interplanetary Warrior (HD, 5:18) – Same deal as the previous featurette, this time its the discussion of the character of Caine.

The Wachowskis: Minds Over Matter (HD, 7:25) – A PR-friendly piece praising the Wachowskis that includes plenty of onset video showing them hard at work on their craft.

Worlds Within Worlds Within Worlds (HD, 9:36) – An interesting piece going over the universe of this movie from alien design, costumes, planets and tech.

Jupiter Ascending: Genetically Spliced (HD, 10:25) – Discusses the hybrid alien creatures in the film.

Bullet Time Evolved (HD, 9:35) – A look at the shooting of the action sequences focusing on choreography, post work and visualization.

From Earth To Jupiter (And Everywhere In Between) (HD, 9:34) – This piece goes over story points in the film and the depth of which the film rides in its characters with social classes and the like.

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Summary 

I know I’m not of popular opinion when it comes to Jupiter Ascending.  The first time I recognized its faults and was “Ok” with it, but on this second viewing I ended up enjoying it just a bit more.  This could possible be this generation’s equivalent to David Lynch’s Dune.  Time will tell on that, but it wouldn’t surprise me.  This Blu-ray, however, is in-arguably top of the line when it comes to audio and video.  An amazing presentation.  The extras are very EPK, but still were pretty interesting and gave about an hour of lighter but solid insight.  Time will tell, but I have a feeling in ten years this one could emerge as a cult classic.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Jupiter Ascending (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Haha you made me chuckle with this “there are a lot of beautiful looking sets and shots in this film that your television and Blu-ray player are going to make sweet love to”

    As much as I am not a fan of this film, I can somewhat agree with this statement “Personally, I enjoy a film where there are some rough edges, it does take chances and is willing to accept some losses on its way to the finish. I’d much rather spend time and discuss a unique vision that sits as a noble failure than something playing it safe to be average and mediocre any day.” It’s like you read my mind in reference to Tomorrowland.