This movie has the best musical score of any movie I’ve seen this year. In terms of graphics and special effects, it is huge, much too lavish for my pathetic little 32″ TV. There were some appealing characters, most notably the former soldiers Caine and Stinger. However, I got the impression that the script came from a story written by a teenage girl (like Twilight or Divergent).
Wikipedia indicates that critics faulted the movie on the incoherence of its script. I agree with them, and was very surprised to learn that it was written, not by a teenager, but by the Wachowskis, who wrote The Matrix movies.
The main character, a girl called Jupiter, whose father loved astronomy and was killed by thugs who stole his telescope, lives with her Russian mother in Chicago and cleans toilets as part of the family housekeeping business. She is abducted and discovers that aliens planted humanity on the earth and many other planets thousands of years ago, and are waiting for the population to hit critical mass in order to harvest the humans and use their bodies to produce a serum that has kept them alive for thousands and thousands of years.
It turns out that, by some means that isn’t clearly explained, Jupiter is the genetic reincarnation of the late queen of the aliens that run this human-farming business. The three heirs of the queen are involved in intrigues against each other, and Jupiter gets kidnapped by one after the other, for each one’s nefarious purposes. In the process she discovers that her genetic link to the late queen makes her the new queen, and in an episode clearly ripped from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s visit to the planet Vogon, she gets taken from office to office to office, dealing with a never-ending series of bureaucrats, to get her official title, symbolized by a globe hologram embedded in her wrist.
One of the three heirs manipulates her to marry him, like a villain in an ancient Flash Gordon film, and as in those old films, Caine bursts in just in time to break up the ceremony. The other even slimier brother kidnaps her family and uses them to extort her, demanding she abdicate her crown, which has given her ownership of Earth (it had been part of his inheritance until she came along). She realizes just in the nick of time that if she gives up her crown, he will proceed immediately to harvest the rest of Earth’s population, so she turns him down. They fight, Caine shows up again and rescues her family, the city on Jupiter where this is taking place begins to disintegrate, she fights her way through the mess, another rescue, etc., and at the end, Jupiter is back on earth, happy to clean toilets, and flying around the skyline with Caine when they have a date.
The reasons I thought this was written by a teen:
The whole queen thing. Jupiter is genetically identical to the most powerful alien of them all, and considered her reincarnation, but except for a pointless ability to get bees to swirl around her, she seems to have no power of her own. In most of the scenes where she’s getting pushed around by aliens, she’s totally passive. It’s only at the end that she shows a little spirit, punching one obnoxious little alien in the face, kneeing the guy who wants her to abdicate, then fighting with him and struggling her way through buildings that are falling apart around her. The other way in which she is assertive is in pursuing Caine romantically. We get no sense of what it actually means for her to be queen except that it gives her control over the destiny of the earth. But we never actually see her govern, and at the end, she’s back in her tawdry little life in Chicago, except that now she’s happy and has an amazing boyfriend.
The werewolf thing and the wings. Caine is a genetically manipulated soldier. His makeup includes wolf genes, so he is a lycanthrope. He also has scars where he used to have wings. They were removed prior to this movie’s events, when he got into trouble for ripping out the throat of a member of the royalty. The werewolf thing never really comes into play, except that he has a keen sense of smell and a dangerous but noble disposition. The really cool things about him are his boots that allow him to skate through the air, and his holographic shield, neither of which has anything to do with being a werewolf or having had wings. So why make him a werewolf at all? And who needs wings? Those boots are awesome!
Sloppy writing. The royal family are so very slimy and deceitful. I get really tired of villains like them. It’s lazy writing. Having Caine burst in at the very last minute, not once but twice, to rescue her from the villainous brothers, is also sloppy writing.
Bad science. A large chunk of the movie takes place on Jupiter, but gravity is not an issue, despite the vastly greater mass.
Another annoying thing: Jupiter (Mila Kunis) wears twice as much makeup as any other character, especially around the eyes.
If a sequel comes out, we’ll watch it, and we might rent this one again to look at the special effects more closely, but this is not a movie that I would buy.
If the Wachowskis are smart, for the sequel they’ll ditch Jupiter and focus on Caine and Stinger. Those guys are in a completely different category from the rest of the cast.