Jupiter Ascending (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

October 5, 2016 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

As of this writing it’s been just a bit over 17 years since the world was first introduced to The Matrix. The film, starring Keanu Reeves and Lawrence Fishburne, broke new ground in terms of visual effects and collectively blew the minds of movie-goers around the world. And in the subsequent decade and a half since its release, we’ve been waiting (and waiting) for our minds to be blown once again. Of course there were two more sequels to The Matrix, neither of which really made the impact the original did. There was Speed Racer, a psychedelic mish mash that never seemed to take off. And there was Cloud Atlas which was more difficult to understand than some of the characters Tom Hanks played. Granted, I’d read the novel so I knew what to expect, but I’m willing to be that Warner’s hopes were high for that one. And, here we are – 2015. The “Wachowski” name might not have the allure it did a decade ago, but in the world of Science-Fiction movies, it still has some pull.  Will Jupiter Ascending be all we hoped it would or will it be another “could have been?”

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) has had an uphill battle through her life. Born on a ship in the middle of the sea, she’s grown up in poverty and now cleans houses an dreams of what could be. She’s been told she was meant for something more, but when you’re scrubbing a toilet – it’s a hard concept to grasp. In an attempt to sell her eggs for some extra money (yes, really) she’s greeted by what she believes are aliens. In all actuality she’s being hunted by a species from another planet. But as fate would have it, she’s saved at the last minute by Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically-engineered hunter. Caine manages to get her back to her home world with the help of Stinger (Sean Bean) where she’s recognized as royalty. Certainly things have turned around for Miss Jones. As it turns out, she’s a fourth wheel in a trinity that is in a constant battle for power over planets and resources. She’s being used for her possessions, but isn’t so keen on playing ball. Is she destined to meet an untimely demise or will all be well in the universe?

I kept thinking to myself “what do you get when you combine certain elements of Harry Potter, Men in Black and The Fifth Element (among others)?” And then it hit me. This. To be fair, I was a bit entertained with some of the scenes in the film. The visual effects are top notch, the audio and video qualities (more on that below, of course) are reference quality, but there was just something…missing. And it took me a while to realize that one of the major players in this film as none other than newly-minted Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne. We won’t hold his role in this movie against him. Jupiter Ascending is all over the map. Literally. It lacks a strong cohesive plot, there are scenes which have no business being in the film to begin with (the “DMV” sequence, for example) and it just felt like a hot, disjointed mess. I’ll leave it at that.

Video: How’s it look?

The film might have been lacking in plot, but I will say that this is a movie that’s tailor-made for 4K. And if you’re watching this for the more technical qualities, well then I actually have good news for you – you will not be let down! Presented in a 2.40: HD transfer, this embraces HD like the Wachowski’s embrace special effects. In a word, it’s awesome. From the Earth-bound cities to the far reaches of space, the transfer makes you feel as if you were right there. Colors are a bit on the exaggerated side, but when an 8 foot talking lizard is in the mix, I doubt it matters much. The effects really make use of the HD resolution, from the colors in Caine’s shield to the tiny little nuances of the space “home.” Suffice it to say that this one packs a visual punch and none of us really doubted that it would.

Audio: How’s it sound?

There was really no need to “upgrade” here as the original Blu-ray contained a Dolby Atmos mix, so this makes for a nice fit on the Ultra HD version.  For those of us that aren’t so equipped, the track defaults to a “lowly” Dolby TrueHD mix that pulls no punches. Vocals are rich and pure, save Eddie Redmayne’s character who talks in a voice so soft that I had to strain to hear what he was saying. Nevertheless, this is countered with explosions so loud they shake the room, flying shoes whizzing from one side of the screen to the other (you’ll understand when/if you see the movie) as well as space ships doing…what space ships do.  The movie may not be on any Top 10 lists, but this mix knocks it out of the park.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The back of the box states that this includes “7 Earth-Shattering Extras!” Well, I can hardly wait – let’s get started!

  • Jupiter Jones: Destiny Is Within Us – Mila Kunis, who plays the lead in the film, along with Andy and Lana Wachowski, discuss the character and some of the trials and tribulations she faces in the film.
  • Caine Wise: Interplanetary Warrior – Essentially the exact same thing as above, only the focus is now on Channing Tatum’s character of Caine.
  • The Wachowski’s: Minds Over Matter – The cast and crew explain the allure to the film as a whole and we’re treated to some behind the scenes footage.
  • Worlds Within Worlds Within Worlds – This adds a bit to the above feature, though more is explained on the aliens presence in the film as well as some of the “world” they live in.
  • Genetically Spliced – Believe it or not, the Wachowski’s films have never dealt with aliens in any form. Caine’s character represents the first and this is explored with a bit of discussion as well as some behind the scenes footage.
  • Bullet Time Evolved – Probably the most interesting feature is this one that focuses on the special effects in the film. We get a beginning to end from some pre-vis work to the final product at some of the more impressive F/X sequences in the film.
  • From Earth to Jupiter (And Everywhere in Between) – Evidently the filmmakers thought about this a lot more than what we saw as the final product. The politics of the alien race and world are explored as well as the film as a whole.

The Bottom Line

I really wasn’t sure what to expect of Jupiter Ascending. About 10 minutes in I was ready to turn it off, but I can’t do that. I gave it a chance and, admittedly, it did have some (albeit them very few and far between) redeeming scenes. If you’re expecting The Matrix – don’t. On a technical level, this Blu-ray offers up some of the most amazing visual effects I’ve seen as well as reference-quality audio. If you are a fan of the film, and admit it – you’re out there, then this Blu-ray is right up your alley.


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