Jupiter Ascending (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Jupiter-Ascending-4K-thumbJupiter Ascending, quite the despised film that I guess won’t go away thanks to a new home video format.  My average film score on the Blu-ray and kind thoughts on the merits it did bring to the table were met with plenty of disdain when I posted the review and shared it to social media.  The Wachowski film is returning to our visibility, as its dropping early on here in the 4K UHD format and its easy to see why beyond the film itself.  First, they need to make as much money back on the bomb as they can, but also its a recent film that is by a pair of directors who shine in terms of visual spectacle.  And this film delivers a lot in terms of action, science fiction and visual effects.  Whether it succeeds or not is your own opinion, but it does offer that kinda stuff up.  Its the kind of movie a home theater junkie may overlook the film quality itself just for the dose of Atmos sound and stunning picture quality.  For me, its time to look back at the film again and see how I feel this time out.

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You can find my previous review for Jupiter Ascending HERE.

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.

I’m going to start this review by following up my original one with an apology to Miss Jupiter Jones herself, Mila Kunis.  The first two times I watched the film, I thought she was fine with the Earthbound stuff, but struggled when it came to the sci fi, green screen, CGI craziness.  This time around, though, I’m taking it back.  She’s perfect for them, and knows exactly how to play all of this.  I actually think her performance is spot on and a great drive and human “in” to follow along on this story.  She’s quite engaging, grounded with her reacting and behaving appropriately to all the crazy, silly things happening around her.

As mentioned, this is my third trip to ascend Jupiter (Once in the theater, once for the Blu-ray review).  In good news for the film, with this third viewing, the film is actually slowing up for me.  While I’m still going to agree that the film is overly plotted, contains too many characters and just feels like too much going on, as I’ve continued to revisit it, there is a less of an overall feeling of that.  Character conversations and plot points are less confusing and are starting to make much more sense overall.  Maybe that’s the intention of the Wachowskis all along or a byproduct of just seeing it a few times, but I can say that this movie flows a bit better and moves quicker on this third viewing than the previous two.

One area where that doesn’t happen is in the film’s finale where it actually finishes twice.  The rescue of Jupiter from Titus and then following up with going after Balem is too much for a movie that is quite big with universe building and action scenes.  You’re worn out already and then likely exhausted by the end.  I think I mentioned before, but those two action sequence should have been married together and done as one big sequence to finish off the film rather than HUGE-Take a short break-HUGE.  It is what it is, and we’ll never get a sequel, so at least I guess they didn’t just leave off going after Balem for a follow up.

There was a lot in my previous review for the film that I still stand by, even moreso on some points and lesser on some others.  Its a film that features a wild, confident and realized imagination on full display that is undone by a little too much worldbuilding, overdone plotting and some cringeworthy dialogue in spots.  What I do like is that the film is confident in all this and doesn’t spoon feed or dumb it all down.  While all that might be too crazy for some, I think it does feature some fun action moments and some really enjoyable leads to follow throughout this Earth and space adventure.  Its not for everyone, and I know I’m in the minority by calling it “average” (As some feel I’m giving it some sort of glowing praise with that), but I’m all for some original sci fi and can respect what a visionary is trying for whether they succeed or fail.  With Jupiter Ascending, I think the Wachowski’s really landed closer to the middle of that rather than at the very bottom.

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Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:01

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  When it comes to 4K UHD Blu-ray, regardless of your thoughts on the film, you’d think Jupiter Ascending would be a standout in terms of video presentation.  Its really odd, but the film kind of suffers from being a bit too dark.  I figured this one would pop more, but it was really dark in appearance.  Even scenes in broad daylight with a heavy dose of sunshine look too shaded.  Its almost as if you’re looking at it through the filter of a tinted car window.  I checked it against the Blu-ray release and that image is much more vibrant.  Even the menu on the 4K UHD looks too dimmed.  Take a look at the final scene in the film as well as the car ride to Sean Bean’s country home for some examples. That said, the image is still very sharp and incredibly detailed.  Overall, this is a step up from the Blu-ray, but honestly I can see people preferring the Blu-ray because of it being brighter.  The 4K UHD one ups it in terms of movement and well rounded looking character, objects and environments.  I’m wondering if something didn’t transfer over right, but I just wish this one was a bit brighter, as it has much more that it could have shown off.

Depth:  Dimensional work shows real improvement in this 4K UHD presentation.  Lots of green screen work was obviously done for a sci fi actioneer like this one.  Now, characters feel very free from some of the background, making a greater deal of space between them and the backgrounds.  Backgrounds which are now a bit clearer and feature some more discernible details to them.  Movements, that prove quite smooth and confident, and characters look a bit more 3-dimensional here as well.  Scenes in a regular environments feel a little flatter than that of the computer generated ones, but still pull a nice lift over the Blu-ray.  If anything, its really only the medium shots and close-ups that feel that way as further away shots, like the scene at Sean Bean’s where the bees surround Jupiter, feels a good deal of depth and freedom.

Black Levels:  While the film is much darker this time around, its not too dark.  The blacks are deep and rich, but they still display plenty of detail.  In fact, they don’t really hide anything at all.  Once aboard the “space cops” ship, every one is wearing a dark uniforms and you can make out every little detail on them.  Eddie Redmayne and co also wear dark outfits and you can see their different pieces and layers to them.  Mila Kunis hair follicles also are finely present here in the image.  So yes, the image is a darker one, but the definition and revealing textures and patterns are even better if you’ll believe that to be possible.  Impressive blacks.  And no crushing was witnessed in the viewing for this review.

Color Reproduction:  There are many scenes in this film that take place in environments with people wearing costumes that are just darker colored in nature.  Early on in the film, there is a blue sand type surface that jumps right out off the screen.  Later one a moving establishing shot focuses on some really vibrant red plants on a deep green surface.  The hair of a henchwoman has a nice noticeable purple.  Most of the impressive color action, high dynamic range and wide color gamut can come in the form of some space scenes.  A lot of the best stuff comes from Balem’s (Eddie Redmayne) planet, that one dealing with reds, yellows and purples in a beautiful little blend.  Many of the colorful effects shots have a nice pop hear, exampling the engines of some of the spacecraft as well as something like Caine’s energy shield.  Yellows give a nice showing on some bees during a countryside escape that also display good greens.  Colors are very nice overall, but manage to keep a natural appearance and know just the right times to pop.

Flesh Tones:  Human skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the runtime of the film.  This has a striking upgrade in terms of facial details over its Blu-ray counterpart.  Freckles show through much more clearly and discernible (You could count them) than they were before.  Facial stubble, tattoos and markings are all much clearer and you can see “how” they came to be on their face a bit too.  There was also a scene where Mila Kunis had some sort of red blemish or injury to her face that you really couldn’t make out before, but was definitely much clearer and informative in this image.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

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Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD default), English 5.1 Descriptive Audio DTS-HD MA, French 7.1 Dolby Digital, French (Canadian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 7.1 DTS-HD MA,

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Estonian, Indonesian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Thai, Japanese, German SDH, Italian SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics:  Jupiter Ascending carries over the excellent Atmos track from the previous release.  This track surely livens up a room whether it be a battle on the ground, in space or just normal conversation aboard a ship.  The mix picks up little trinkets here and there that help bolster an environment, like computer hums, gears moving or just the sound of a quiet (wind, house creaks) within a home.  The sound is crisp and full of a wide range of sounds from natural, to sci-fi that all feel wholly represented in this mix.  While it gets very loud, vocals are always plenty audible as the blend with it the music and effects works quite well.

Height:  From up above, plenty of movement gives you a buzzcut.  Caine zipping by with his rocket boots overhead, as well as ships in the earlier proceedings to get ahold of Jupiter Jones bring a spark that carries on throughout.  The ceiling channel also helps provide out space ambiance during establishing shots, while appropriately carrying ship sounds to soar over.  During some of the battles you can also manage to grab a bit of a gun blast or the extension/remnant of an explosion as well.

Low Frequency Extension:  Your subwoofer gets a boom the room wih this track.  There are a lot of constant hums within the film from blasters, to speeder-bike things to space ships to some of the weaponry on display.  You really feel the boost with your subwoofers buzzing participation.  Of course it also accurately and loudly performs a jolt to the blaster fire, punches, crashes and explosions that happen in the film as well.  Overall its very deep here and shakes the room.

Surround Sound Presentation:  With a Wachowski film, you know you’re going to get some find surround action.  Jupiter Ascending follows suit.  Right from the first action sequence you get a battle that is choreographed in a circular fashion and it follows suit in the surround game back visiting each speaker taking laps clockwise and counter clockwise.  Side speakers and rear speakers keep active by filling the room with environmental ambiance and hitting little score beats.  If there is a visible contributor to a given scene, they’ll be given some unique task to add to it as well.  Front channels keep a solid base of finding the right volumes levels on distances and impact of certain action bits in scenes.  And in the end there is a whole lot going on in Balem’s weird lava facility planet/place that ramps up the intensity by just having plenty going on.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp and clear.  Each piece of diction, breath and the like is capture in the vocal track.  It may come off as a bit low at times in the mix, but honestly I think its naturally that way.  A lot of it deals with Eddie Redmayne’s performance, as the way he is carrying his voice his very whispery and hissy, and that’s hard to give a solid deep interpretation too.

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Jupiter Ascending comes with a Blu-ray copy and UltraViolet digital copy of the film.  No bonus features are on the 4K UHD disc, they can be found on the Blu-ray disc.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

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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Jupiter Ascending, I still argue, is decently entertaining due to some solid visuals and action sequences from the Wachowskis and likeable leads like Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum.  The film makes its debut on the 4K UHD Blu-ray format with a headscratchingly darker transfer than that of the original Blu-ray release.  I will still argue its an incremental uptick over that release (Which shares the same Atmos audio track), but I’m not sure its one you want to pounce on this release for.  Considering it wasn’t that popular of a movie, I’m not sure people are ready to double dip on this one, especially if its at the launch 4K UHD prices.  Still, its the best version of the movie available on the market.



3 Responses to “Jupiter Ascending (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    Say what you want about this movie, but that cover with the black case is bad a$$.

  2. Brian White

    “Overall, this is a step up from the Blu-ray, but honestly I can see people preferring the Blu-ray because of it being brighter. The 4K UHD one ups it in terms of movement and well rounded looking character, objects and environments. I’m wondering if something didn’t transfer over right, but I just wish this one was a bit brighter, as it has much more that it could have shown off.”

    This is one of my only complaints about HDR and WCG, do you think the increase spectrum of colors to make things look natural wash things out in presentations we are used to seeing pop on Blu? I do.

  3. Brandon Peters

    I really don’t know, but that’s likely what it is. This is the first I’ve had that I’ve noticed this. The whole time I was just like “This is really dark, and I swear I don’t remember feeling this way about the Blu-ray”. I mean, even the menu screen (they have the exact same menu) is significantly darker.