Jupiter Ascending
Movie Reviews

Jupiter Ascending

Most queens don’t clean toilets. I just can’t imagine Elizabeth II scrubbing the ceramic thrones at Buckingham Palace. Queens likely have someone else do that sort of thing—someone like Jupiter Jones.

Jupiter’s a toilet-cleaning professional—a pro bowler, if you will. She, her mother and her aunt provide maid services for Chicago’s upper class, ensuring that their penthouse apartments gleam. And while it’s a living, it’s not much else.

“I hate my life,” Jupiter grumbles as she crawls out of bed at 4:45 every morning. She slogs through her day with all the enthusiasm as a cat living in some sort of sick, sad world without laser pointers. Her job doesn’t allow for a lot of free time. And even if she had it, she doesn’t have the money to enjoy it. She’s so in need of a little extra cash—green she’d spend on a shiny brass telescope—that she’s hatched a plan with her cousin to sell her eggs for $15,000. “You go in, cash comes out!” The cousin says. And when Jupiter asks why she only gets a third of the proceeds when, after all, it’s her eggs that are being sold, the cousin says, simply, “Capitalism.”

But when Jupiter enters the egg-harvesting clinic, the doctors and nurses turn out to be aliens with murder—not medicine—on their minds. Clearly, some egg-harvesting outfits are shadier than others.

Before these alien-docs can snuff out Jupiter, another alien—this one sporting pointy ears and killer abs—blasts through the clinic wall, pulverizes some of the staffers with his energy gun and carries Jupiter away via his levitating boots, with the surviving homicidal harvesters in hot pursuit.

Why all this interest in little ol’ Jupiter Jones? Seems she’s an exact genetic duplicate of one of the galaxy’s most powerful oligarchs—now dead but so influential and self-obsessed that she put herself in her own will, figuring that a perfect genetic twin would show up sooner or later. And what did this queen will to herself? Why, Earth of course—the peachiest of galactic prizes. And that makes Jupiter, in a roundabout way, the queen of the world!

Now maybe she could get somebody to clean her toilet for a change.

Positive Elements

Jupiter’s ascension to royalty comes with its share of problems, of course—most precipitated by the old queen’s three children, who have their own plans for the planet. Turns out, they see most of humanity as chattel (even though they themselves are human), and have few reservations about “harvesting” (aka killing) them as they see fit. To her credit, Jupiter has a serious problem with that.

Caine, Jupiter’s protector, risks his life with some regularity for her. So do several people (and quasi-people) in Jupiter’s immediate circle. Jupiter’s family eventually chips in to buy that telescope she so badly wanted. The family patriarch takes Jupiter’s cousin to task for treating her like a “chicken.”

Spiritual Content

Jupiter Ascending is a multilayered mishmash of spirituality that requires a bit of breaking apart.

Astrology: Jupiter’s aunt believes in it wholeheartedly, and Jupiter was named as such because she was born in the house of Leo as Jupiter was rising. That (her aunt says) foretells big things for the girl, and while Jupiter expresses her disdain for astrology, the movie proves her kin correct.

Gods: Jupiter is also named after, of course, the top dog Roman god. And the last name of that troublesome trio of siblings is Abrasax, a moniker (according tosymboldictionary.net) associated with the gnostic solar god and “associated by the ancients with Yahweh, Mithras and the Celtic Belenus, as well as … Jesus.” The Abrasaxes are not gods, but they do have one god-like attribute—the ability to stay eternally young, thanks to a chemical they manufacture (which is also called Abrasax). The queen, Jupiter’s genetic ancestor, lived to a ripe old age of 91,000 years. Kalique Abrasax suggests that humanity’s belief in supernatural beings like vampires stemmed from those kinds of abnormally long lives.

Genes: Kalique tells Jupiter that genes have an “almost spiritual significance” in the galaxy, and she suggests that Jupiter’s genetic makeup makes her, essentially, a reincarnation of the much-worshipped queen.

Galactic Anthropology: This story rejects the Adam and Eve account of creation and tells us that the human race evolved on an alien planet, oh, about a billion years ago. Then, 100,000 years ago, the Abrasax clan colonized Earth with humans, breeding them with some of our current planet’s locals.

Sexual Content

A middle-aged Kalique walks naked into a pool filled with Abrasax (we see quite a lot of her back) and emerges as a younger version of herself (whom we see fully from behind). Jupiter wears curve-hugging, sometimes skin-revealing gowns. One of her friends frets about a date while running around in her bra and panties. We see unconscious humanoids from the side, apparently nude. A man has a floating sexual encounter with a dozen women at once. We see a naked man (standing) from above.

Jupiter and Caine develop feelings for each other, though Caine says their relationship is problematic. He is a “splice,” or a genetic combination of man and wolf, and he tells her that he has more in common with a dog than her. “I love dogs,” she says. And when she learns that he tore out the throat of an enemy, she alluringly asks him if there’s anyone he’d like to bite right now. The two kiss a couple of times.

An odd aside: In order to save humankind on other planets, Jupiter considers marrying Titus Abrasax. Titus assures her that the marriage is a “business contract,” not an expression of love. And, of course, the two of them are not “traditionally” related. But the fact that Jupiter is a genetic duplicate of Titus’ mother introduces incestuous overtones.

Violent Content

Jupiter Ascending is mostly a collection of CGI fight sequences that the convoluted story tries to tie together. There are several frenetic battles involving energy guns and shields wherein creatures and people are shot and sometimes killed. Cars crash. Buildings blow up. We hear about murder and mayhem. Bombastic battles in crowded cities or spaceships create infrastructure damage and, obviously, a bevy of unseen casualties.

Caine fights a flying lizard of sorts—sometimes while it’s flying. They hit and kick and shoot, and the lizard bites into Caine’s neck. Caine stabs the beastie in the tail and injures one of its wings, causing the two of them to fall out of the sky. A creature is threatened with a huge assortment of small, sharp, automated instruments before a chute opens up below and, presumably, sends it to its death. A man is thrown into the void of space as a means of execution. People fall from tremendous heights, and some die.

After a guy gets shot in the leg, a female assailant squeezes the wound to gain the upper hand, hitting the guy on the head with a makeshift metal club several times. Caine and his mentor, Stinger, get into a massive fistfight, and we see several painful blows to the face. A woman is beaten and choked. Jupiter’s father gets shot in the gut. (The wound is bloody and, quickly, fatal.) Caine sports a gory wound in his side.

Abrasax is harvested from humans: It takes 100 people to create a thermos-full of the stuff, and they need to be killed to get the job done. We see unconscious humans getting jabbed by needles and threatened with a variety of cutting instruments. The Abrasax siblings visit a deserted planet recently “harvested.” One tells another, “I’m told they feel no pain,” and a sibling insists that harvesting people really does them a service, freeing them from their humdrum lives.

Crude or Profane Language

A half-dozen s-words. We hear “b–ch” once and four or five uses each of “h—” and “d–n.” God’s name is misused a dozen times, twice with “d–n.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Abrasax can easily be thought of as a drug, and it’s treated like it is. (A group of what look to be galactic gangsters kidnap Jupiter in order to get some of the stuff.) During dinner, Titus sips some substance from an interplanetary champagne glass. Jupiter’s family drinks beer.

Other Negative Elements

A man plays the violent video game Dark Souls as a young boy watches. Jupiter patches Caine’s wound up with a maxi pad.


Back in the silent film era, studios spared no expense to make movies. Productions boasted massive sets, lavish costumes and thousands of extras. Cinema was fresh and new, and directors were exploring all the possibilities of this visual frontier. What they created were spectacles, designed to awe and thrill and astound. But because there was no audio track possible yet, dialogue was sparse. Those old movies were grand spectacles but sometimes poor stories.

Now as we explore the age of digitally enhanced movies, something like that is happening again. No expense is spared by filmmakers to awe and thrill and astound with all sorts of CGI craziness. But the end result with Jupiter Ascendingis that it feels just like one of those old silent movies, only with more talking. And the chatter in this case just makes things worse.

The Wachowski siblings (formerly brothers) hoped to reclaim some of their Matrixmagic with Jupiter Ascending, giving us again a human race secretly enslaved by powers beyond human comprehension. And, yes, the computer-generated special effects are wonderfully creative. But the plot is both needlessly complex and kinda silly—a rare blend of pretentious and sophomoric, wherein anti-capitalist subtext stands shoulder to shoulder with a willful disregard for such things as gravity. So in addition to its nonstop violence and sexual asides, this movie is just flat-out weird, and not in a good way.

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