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Movie Night – 'Jupiter Ascending' geared toward science fiction nerd (Feb. 18, 2015 issue)

When deciding to spend your hard-earned money on “Jupiter Ascending” you need to ask yourself one question: Do I consider myself a science-fiction nerd? Because you would have to really like science fiction to enjoy “Jupiter Ascending.”
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is the daughter of a Russian immigrant living in Chicago. Her father was murdered in Russia while her mother was pregnant. Jupiter was born in a container on a cargo ship on her way to America, with no place to call home. Fast-forward about 20 years and Jupiter must wake every morning before sunrise to go to work as a maid with her mom and aunt. In their cramped and cold apartment they all sleep in the same room. Glamorous, it’s not.
Things quickly change for Jupiter when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically- engineered tracker from a galaxy far away locates Jupiter and attempts to take her to outer space to meet with Titus Abrasix (Douglas Booth). Titus, along with brother Balem (Eddie Redmayne) and sister Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), make up the ruling family of Abrasix. Their mother was the head of the family and when she died she left most of her possessions to Balem. One of those possessions just happens to be Earth.
As crazy as it may sound, in the universe of “Jupiter Ascending” Earth is not the birthplace of the human race. Instead, Earth is one of a number of planets that were seeded by more intelligent beings from distant galaxies. The seeds that were planted on Earth were humans. The Earth is a possession of Balem Abrasix, at least until he decides to “harvest” the planet. Titus and Kalique want nothing more than to strip Balem of his possession and take it for themselves.
Jupiter is thrown into the world of aliens (some human, some not) and finds herself at the center of the dispute among the Abrasix clan. The only being (he’s half-human) she can trust is Caine, and he will do anything to protect Jupiter.
Boiled down to its basic form the movie is about a family squabble over money and power. The thing that makes it different from your average family squabble is that Earth is in the balance and everyone on the planet faces the prospect of imminent death, and they don’t even know. And then there’s also plenty of aliens (the best of which seems like a cross between a crocodile and a T-rex), space ships, a literal fountain of youth, and anti-gravity boots that make you fly. It’s a dream come true for hard-core sci-fi fans.
On the positive side, there’s a lot of action. There are many chases, fights, and explosions. The action scenes are well-done and the special effects are, for the most part, effective. Some of the effects are less than stellar, but that’s not unusual. The story can be hard to follow at times, but you don’t need to think too much about the plot or you won’t enjoy the movie.
You won’t find any great acting performances in the movie, but that’s not the point of the movie. It’s all about action, fantastic alien worlds, and advanced technology that would take the humans of Earth around a billion years to duplicate.
“Jupiter Ascending” is science fiction on steroids. In order to appreciate the movie you need to open your mind and let your imagination run wild.
Grade: C+
Rated PG-13 for some violence, sequences of sci-fi action, some suggestive content and partial nudity.