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June 26, 2015
Jupiter Ascending Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
19/2/201524/6/2015Warner BrothersThe Wachowskis
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 7.1MMila Kunis
Channing Tatum

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Channing Tatum and Sean Bean in The Wachowski's latest film, Jupiter Ascending.

Way back in 1999 everyone was eagerly anticipating Star Wars Episode I however it was another film that really captured everyone's imagination as well as critical praise. That was The Matrix. It was the second, and breakout, film for The Wachowski Brothers (now known as The Wachowskis since Larry has undergone a sex change to Lana). The two sequels, while not received quite as well, were also big hits however since those sequels their output has seen Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas both great films that ultimately underperformed at the box office. Now we have another original title, Jupiter Ascending which has been written, produced and directed by the siblings.

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along—her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

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Jupiter Ascending has a sense of wonder to it.
It's fair to say that this is a pretty complex film with a large number of characters from different parts of the universe, but there is little background to many of these characters. What are their motivations, what purpose do they serve in the universe? These questions are rarely answered. The concept of the film however is pretty impressive, as are the numerous locations and planets upon which the film takes place. In fact, there is so much to admire about this film when it comes to location, creature and set design that it sits up there with some of the best films set in space or distant planets - Star Wars and Star Trek included. Action sequences are wonderful as expected and action fans will find plenty to enjoy in this film.

When it comes to the actual performances these are a bit all over the place too. Eddie Redmayne, who many would know from his wonderful performances in The Theory of Everything and Les Misérables, plays Balem but he pretty much whispers all his lines making him quite hard to understand and when you do turn the volume up to understand him, he then screams a couple of lines making you jump for the control to turn it back down. Fortunately Mila Kunis is great as the lead character Jupiter Jones and she continues to light up the screen as she lurches through this confusing universe. While we like him as an actor, we couldn't get to love Channing Tatum as Caine. We all know that Channing can be a funny actor, and have plenty of charisma, but here all sense of "excitement" seems to be stripped away making it a very dull performance. Fortunately Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton and the other actors playing a range of alien characters put in fine performances.

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Jupiter Ascending, directed by The Wachowski's.
We can understand why Jupiter Ascending didn't do it for many cinema fans with a plot that may confuse some, with a heavy sci-fi element and some variable acting. Still, there is enough here to warrant a viewing if only to enjoy the latest spectacle from the Wachowski's who always bring with them a visual style and polish rarely seen. The best way to describe this is a mix of Star Wars, Dune and The Fifth Element. If you enjoy those films, add this to your watch list.

Without a doubt this is one of the best looking Blu-Rays we've seen. The Wachowski's create visually stunning titles and this film shines with a stellar AVC MPEG-4 transfer encoded at the original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Be it the stunning CG visuals showing the alien worlds, the extreme close-ups of faces, or the detail in darker scenes this always looks stunning and is reference quality all the way.

We should point out too that Jupiter Ascending was the first film that the Wachowski's released in 3D and apparently it's a pretty impressive experience. Unfortunately we never received the 3D Blu-Ray to review, however if you like the extra dimension we can imagine it would be pretty spectacular.

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Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones.
Also not disappointing at all is the phenomenal audio experience on this disc with a wonderful Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track which is every bit the lively, engaging and entertaining experience which one would expect from a big budget sci-fi film. Now we've already mentioned that the voicework is a bit problematic at times, but that's not a fault of the transfer but rather the original audio mix and directorial choices. The musical score by Michael Giacchino isn't the most memorable, but it's certainly impressive and sounds fantastic. Just like the video transfer this remains a stunning example of what the Blu-Ray format is capable of when it has a great source material.

The only other audio track is an English Descriptive Narration for the Hearing Impaired which is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps while the disc only contains a single subtitle track - English Subtitles for the Heairing Impaired which, from our samples is accurate to the dialogue and audio in the film.

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Channing and Mila in Jupiter Ascending.
Upon starting the disc you are presented with several trailers including Big Eyes (2:28), The Duff (2:32) and While We're Young (2:28). There are a few other extras on the Blu-Ray which, ultimately, add up to around an hour-long documentary.

Jupiter Jones: Destiny Is Within Us (6:56/HD): Mila Kunis plays the lead character Jupiter Jones in the film and this featurette focuses on her characters and importance in the universe.

Caine Wise: Interplanetary Warrior (5:18/HD): Channing Tatum plays the second main character in the film, that being Caine, and this featurette looks at that character and his role through the film.

The Wachowskis: Minds Over Matter (7:25/HD): The Wachowskis (Lana and Andy) are among the most exciting filmmakers on the planet with unique worlds and scenarios playing out in their films and this featurette sees various actors and filmmakers talking about the writer and director duo.

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Visuals in Jupiter Ascending are stunning.
Worlds Within Worlds Within Worlds (9:36/HD): This next featurette looks at the actual set and ship design used throughout the film including discussion about why space ships always look so boring, but what if they were designed for the super-rich.

Jupiter Ascending: Genetically Spliced (10:25/HD): One of the major themes throughout the film is splicing genetics and this featurette looks at the characters in the film, their origins and the actors playing the roles.

Bullet Time Evolved (9:35/HD): Bullet Time was one of the most revolutionary aspects of The Matrix and The Wachowskis have taken that to another level in Jupiter Ascending with a massive amount of stuntwork required for the film.

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Eddie Redmayne uses a horrible, annoying, whispery voice in the film.
From Earth To Jupiter (And Everywhere In Between) (9:34/HD): There is absolutely no doubt that Jupiter Ascending is one of the most visually stunning films ever seen and this segment looks at the creation of the different worlds seen in the film and the set design.

While visually stunning Jupiter Ascending misses the mark a little on the story however it's a film we certainly recommend to fans of sci-fi films, or fans of the Wachowski's, who bring a layer of detail that is rarely seen. Fortunately the transfer is top-notch and the extras are decent so this is a Blu-Ray well worth checking out. Just remember there is a 3D version available too which may interest some.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Warner Brothers. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.