Way back in 1999 everyone was eagerly anticipating Star Wars Episode I however it was another film that really captured everyone's imagination as well as critical praise. That was The Matrix. It was the second, and breakout, film for The Wachowski Brothers (now known as The Wachowskis since Larry has undergone a sex change to Lana). The two sequels, while not received quite as well, were also big hits however since those sequels their output has seen Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas both great films that ultimately underperformed at the box office. Now we have another original title, Jupiter Ascending which has been written, produced and directed by the siblings.
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) 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 (Channing Tatum), 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.
When it comes to the actual performances these are a bit all over the place too. Eddie Redmayne, who many would know from his wonderful performances in The Theory of Everything and Les Misérables, plays Balem but he pretty much whispers all his lines making him quite hard to understand and when you do turn the volume up to understand him, he then screams a couple of lines making you jump for the control to turn it back down. Fortunately Mila Kunis is great as the lead character Jupiter Jones and she continues to light up the screen as she lurches through this confusing universe. While we like him as an actor, we couldn't get to love Channing Tatum as Caine. We all know that Channing can be a funny actor, and have plenty of charisma, but here all sense of "excitement" seems to be stripped away making it a very dull performance. Fortunately Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton and the other actors playing a range of alien characters put in fine performances.
We should point out too that Jupiter Ascending was the first film that the Wachowski's released in 3D and apparently it's a pretty impressive experience. Unfortunately we never received the 3D Blu-Ray to review, however if you like the extra dimension we can imagine it would be pretty spectacular.
Also not disappointing at all is the phenomenal audio experience on this disc with a wonderful Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track which is every bit the lively, engaging and entertaining experience which one would expect from a big budget sci-fi film. Now we've already mentioned that the voicework is a bit problematic at times, but that's not a fault of the transfer but rather the original audio mix and directorial choices. The musical score by Michael Giacchino isn't the most memorable, but it's certainly impressive and sounds fantastic. Just like the video transfer this remains a stunning example of what the Blu-Ray format is capable of when it has a great source material.
The only other audio track is an English Descriptive Narration for the Hearing Impaired which is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps while the disc only contains a single subtitle track - English Subtitles for the Heairing Impaired which, from our samples is accurate to the dialogue and audio in the film.
Upon starting the disc you are presented with several trailers including Big Eyes (2:28), The Duff (2:32) and While We're Young (2:28). There are a few other extras on the Blu-Ray which, ultimately, add up to around an hour-long documentary.
Jupiter Jones: Destiny Is Within Us (6:56/HD): Mila Kunis plays the lead character Jupiter Jones in the film and this featurette focuses on her characters and importance in the universe.
Caine Wise: Interplanetary Warrior (5:18/HD): Channing Tatum plays the second main character in the film, that being Caine, and this featurette looks at that character and his role through the film.
The Wachowskis: Minds Over Matter (7:25/HD): The Wachowskis (Lana and Andy) are among the most exciting filmmakers on the planet with unique worlds and scenarios playing out in their films and this featurette sees various actors and filmmakers talking about the writer and director duo.
Jupiter Ascending: Genetically Spliced (10:25/HD): One of the major themes throughout the film is splicing genetics and this featurette looks at the characters in the film, their origins and the actors playing the roles.
Bullet Time Evolved (9:35/HD): Bullet Time was one of the most revolutionary aspects of The Matrix and The Wachowskis have taken that to another level in Jupiter Ascending with a massive amount of stuntwork required for the film.
Review By: Dave Warner