A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jupiter Ascending is a cringe-worthy sci-fi action epic from the Wachowski siblings, who also made The Matrix trilogy and Cloud Atlas. Though it's an original story, it has the look and feel of many adaptations based on YA sci-fi/fantasy books. Expect lots of fast-paced, fantasy-style fighting, with laser guns and swooping through the air, as well as some regular shooting, fighting, and a few bloody wounds. There's some brief partial nudity (a female bottom and a male torso) and some sex-tangential issues, such as a woman thinking of selling her eggs and a woman giving birth. Both men and women are shown as sexual or physical objects. Language includes several uses of "s--t," plus "goddamn" and "bitch." Beer is consumed in a background way during a family meal.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is an ordinary young woman, working with her Russian immigrant family cleaning houses. Meanwhile, a trio of millennia-old cosmic siblings apparently owns planets like the Earth and uses them for profit. And it turns out that Jupiter is really the queen of Earth -- and she alone has the power to save mankind. Alien warrior Caine (Channing Tatum) shows up to whisk Jupiter away to her destiny, dodging attacking aliens along the way, because one of the siblings, Titus (Douglas Booth), appears to have summoned Jupiter to help stop the madness. But his brother, the evil Balem (Eddie Redmayne), has other plans. Several double-crosses are on the way, and Jupiter must decide who she can trust.
Is it any good?
Young teens who haven't been exposed to many other sci-fi movies might be mildly entertained by JUPITER ASCENDING's impressive alien universe and slick digital action. But for most others, it's a huge mess: painfully bad and sometimes unintentionally funny. It's difficult to explain the story without cringing (why is there even a queen of the Earth?), and the characters are so shallow and the relationships between them so thin that the various twists and betrayals simply fall flat.
The original screenplay, by sibling filmmakers Andy and Lana Wachowski, is particularly awkward. It consists of characters drearily explaining the rules of the story to each other, interrupted by interminable fights and chases, followed by more explaining. What can the poor actors do with this? Not much, but Oscar nominee Redmayne turns in a hilariously bad performance, reading his villainous lines with barely audible murmurs, occasionally punctuated by hysterical shrieks. It probably wasn't intentional, but you almost couldn't blame him if it was.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Jupiter Ascending's violence. Is it exhilarating? Shocking? How do the filmmakers use it to get their intended effect? What's seen -- and what's not seen?
Would you consider Jupiter a role model? Is she strong? Does she make decisions? Does she rely on others?
What's the appeal of the sci-fi and fantasy genres? What kinds of things do these stories have to say?
- In theaters: February 6, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: June 2, 2015
- Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne
- Directors: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Space and Aliens
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence, sequences of sci-fi action, some suggestive content and partial nudity
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