The list of what went wrong with “Jupiter Ascending” is fairly long, so let's get started.
First, the story is both unnecessarily convoluted and terribly uninteresting.
Three cosmic royal siblings, each thousands of years old, own many of the planets in the universe and use them for financial gain. One, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), has high hopes for our Earth, but his backstabbing brother Titus (Douglas Booth) decides to ruin his plans by sending for the rightful queen of Earth.
She's a humble housecleaner, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who doesn't know she's the queen. A warrior, Caine (Channing Tatum), finds her just in time to save her from some evil aliens.
Jupiter quickly gets wise, works both ends against the middle, and tries to save the day while causing lots of explosions.
If you're already lost, or if you have basic questions that poke holes in this story, you're not alone.
Double-crosses, betrayals and sabotage attempts ensue, but none of them mean anything because the character relationships don't really mean anything.
Jupiter is yet another standard sci-fi “chosen one” – like Paul in “Dune” or Ender in “Ender's Game” – except that she needs constant rescuing, sometimes from annoyingly repetitive situations.
As for the performances, Kunis at least attempts to inject some spunk into the spunkless Jupiter.
Tatum, who only recently escaped playing boring, stoic warriors in favor of roles laced with life and humor, is back at it here – except now he looks bummed out, like he suddenly found himself working at Burger King.
Oscar-nominee Redmayne somehow was allowed to read his villainous lines with a barely audible murmur, punctuated by occasional shrieks that seem more unintentionally funny than menacing.
Slick digital action sequences, filled with random movement, color, and sound, go on and on. They only interrupt the scenes in which the characters monotonously explain the rules of the plot to each other.
Not one image hasn't been borrowed or stolen from some sci-fi classic. Fans will notice a sequence echoing Terry Gilliam's “Brazil” that doesn't seem to fit.
Audiences have writer-director siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski to thank for this mess. It's hard to believe their debut was the terrific, low-budget crime film “Bound,” which had strong writing and great characters. After that came their groundbreaking, mind-blowing “The Matrix.”
But unlike Neo, who chose the red pill, they have settled back with the blue pill, spinning soulless creations out into the void. “Jupiter Ascending” is a planet-sized dud.
One and a half stars
Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean
Written and directed by: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Running time: 2 hours, 7 minutes