Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.
Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, and Eddie Redmayne
Synopsis: It’s been almost 16 years since “The Matrix” debuted, but for fans of its filmmakers — Andy and Lana Wachowski — it feels like it was a lifetime ago. “The Matrix” was an incredible cinematic experience. It introduced a fascinating new world, groundbreaking special effects and became a cultural phenomenon. The Wachowskis followed that up with a couple underwhelming “Matrix” sequels, the ill-conceived live-action adaptation of “Speed Racer” and the perhaps under-appreciated adaptation of David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas.” Though the latter two were commercial flops, their name — and the memory of seeing “The Matrix” for the first time — still brings people to the theater. Or at least it used to. The poor Box Office performance of “Jupiter Ascending,” their latest film that opened on February 6, and the avalanche of negative reviews may be driving another stake into their reputation. And it’s earned. While some of their post-“Matrix” projects have been interesting — I personally loved “Cloud Atlas” — it’s been largely incoherent. “Jupiter Ascending” fits that bill perfectly. “Jupiter Ascending” isn’t a great movie. That’s not going to be hard for anyone to believe. The film was originally scheduled for release last summer but was soon pushed to February — a time typically reserved for dumping bombs — in the wake of concerns about the film’s viability. Though it reportedly cost as much as $210 million to make and market, it drew less than $15 million opening weekend. But it’s not the financial ramifications that are the most concerning, it’s what it means for the Wachowskis going forward. Once considered brilliant filmmakers, now they make expensive and incomprehensible junk. That’s the kindest description of “Jupiter Ascending.” There are moments that are interesting. But that’s quickly followed by a lot of dreck, confusing plots, odd characters and a seeming lack of narrative coherence. At one point, that even includes the somewhat preposterous idea that one of the children would want to marry his re-incarnated mother. Sure, they aren’t totally the same person — and it was part of a nefarious plot — but, still, that’s too much to take sitting down for casual viewers. While the actors remain committed to their roles, that doesn’t make them good performances. There’s enough hamming it up on screen to satisfy a large family’s Easter dinner, but that’s still not the worst thing about the movie. The worst thing is the sheer pointlessness of everything that takes place in its 127-minute running time. The story is disjointed, to say the least, and the special effects don’t really help to sell anything here. There are some delightful scenes and sequences, but that quickly gets lost in the morass of a rudderless, overly indulgent final presentation. I’m not sure what the point was with “Jupiter Ascending,” and what’s worse is I’m not sure the Wachowskis do, either.
Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sequences of sci-fi action, some suggestive content and partial nudity.
Verdict: One star out of four.
Friday, February 13 — "50 Shades of Grey," "Kingsmen: The Secret Service"
Friday, February 20 — "McFarland, USA," "Hot Tub Time Machine 2," "The DUFF"
Friday, February 27 — "Focus," "The Lazarus Effect"