'Jupiter Ascending'

Mila Kunis must fight for the fate of Earth in the wholly unoriginal 'Jupiter Ascending.'
THE SPACE-TRIX: After discovering her destiny as space-princess, Mila Kunis must fight for the fate of Earth in the wholly unoriginal 'Jupiter Ascending.' Sound familiar?

They say we are all born with a limited number of thoughts, and the career of the Wachowski siblings is proof. Considered deep thinkers over the way philosophy met bullet-time photography in the Matrix series, they've done without thought whatsoever in Jupiter Ascending. There isn't a single fresh idea in the movie.

Crammed with all the wow-ride sequences you've seen before—the climactic battle on the flaming exploding gantry, for instance—the movie rest mostly on the heavy eyelids of Mila Kunis. While my interest was piqued by the interstellar dogfights and cosmic palaces, which were furnished with some of the most deliberately hysterical decor this side of the disco-era Flash Gordon, I found more stimulation in Kunis' reaction to her sudden elevation to space-princess. Her magic eyelids are powdered with cranberry-colored eyeshadow in one scene where she's about to marry the evil space prince Titus (played the way-too-pretty Douglas Booth). Is the left lid fetchingly lazy by a millimeter or two?

The film's real love interest is not this fey prince, however, but rather the Charming Tater, a former space legionary called "Caine"—on account of him wandering about the stars like the guy from Kung Fu. In a swipe from Cordwainer Smith, Caine turns out to have some wolf genes in him. Whatever spirit animal dwells in Channing Tatum, wolf isn't it—neighing might be more on the money, if indeed the DNA wasn't taken from an Idaho russet.

Tatum can't seem to generate much warmth for Kunis, who is called "Jupiter Jones." He's supposed to be internally wishing hard that cross-species romance wasn't against his prime directive. Why he worries, it's hard to guess; nature's law has been fractured all over this galaxy. There are spliced critters and androids galore—talking dragon-men, ratfaced bounty hunters, and Samuel Barnett's robot lawyer, who survives the deliberately sub-bad, Star Trek-esque moments of comic relief.

The sky-skating scenes, which take place in the air above Chicago during a major bombardment from the air—that's Flash Gordonish fun. The rest of the film is embalmed in one space bunker after another as Eddie Redmayne—as the ultimate space evil, Balem—does the Richard Harris-style whisper-to-a-scream.

Jupiter Rising isn't a bore, but it is a heavy sedative, cudgeling your brains with the awe-hammer. When did "visionary" become a synonym for "dumb"?

Jupiter Ascending

PG-13; 127 min.

Find Movie Theaters & Showtimes

Zip Code or City:   Radius: Theaters: