Jupiter Ascending is a 2015 American-Australian space opera film written, produced, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski. Starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum,the film is centered on Jupiter Jones (Kunis), an ordinary cleaning woman, and Caine Wise (Tatum), an interplanetary warrior who informs Jones that her destiny extends beyond Earth. Supporting cast member Douglas Booth has described the film’s fictional universe as a cross between The Matrix and Star Wars, while Kunis named indulgence and consumerism as its underlying themes.
The film was co-produced by Grant Hill, who acted as executive producer on The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions and as producer on V for Vendetta, Speed Racer, Ninja Assassin and Cloud Atlas, making Jupiter Ascending his seventh collaboration with the Wachowskis. Several more longstanding Wachowski collaborators since the creation of The Matrix films have contributed to the picture, including production designer Hugh Bateup, visual effects supervisor Dan Glass, visual effects designer John Gaeta, supervising sound editor Dane Davis and costume designer Kym Barrett. Other notable past collaborators include Speed Racer‘s composer Michael Giacchino, Cloud Atlas‘ director of photography John Toll along with its editor Alexander Berner and hair and make-up designer Jeremy Woodhead, who worked on both.
Although critics praised the visuals, world-building, and originality, the general attitude toward the film was negative, with most criticism focused on incoherence in the screenplay and an over-reliance on special effects. Despite this, the film has found a cult following, particularly among female sci-fi fans who appreciate the film’s campiness, and that the film deviates from typical gender dynamics in a genre that is traditionally male-centric.
At the beginning of the story, Earth‘s residents are unaware that the human species on Earth and countless other planets were established by families of transhuman and alien royalty for the purpose of later “harvesting” the resulting organisms to produce a type of youth serum for the elites on still other planets. After the death of the matriarch of the House of Abrasax, the most powerful of the alien dynasties, her children, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth), quarrel over the inheritance, with Balem inheriting an enormous refinery on Jupiter and Titus declaring his intention to dismantle the youth serum trade, of which Earth is the next intended source. Protagonist Jupiter Jones narrates that her father, Maximilian Jones (James D’Arcy), met her mother, Aleksa (Maria Doyle Kennedy), in Saint Petersburg. After Maximilian is killed in a robbery, Aleksa names their daughter Jupiter, after his dying wish, and they move to Chicago to live with Aleksa’s family.
Many years later, Jupiter (Mila Kunis) works with Aleksa and her Aunt Nino (Frog Stone) to clean the homes of wealthy neighbors. To buy a telescope, Jupiter agrees to sell her eggs with the help of her cousin Vladie (Kick Gurry), under the name of her friend Katharine Dunlevy (Vanessa Kirby). At Katharine’s house, Jupiter and Katharine are attacked by extraterrestrial ‘Keepers’; and when Jupiter photographs these, they erase her memory of the incident. During the egg donation procedure, the doctors and nurses are identified as Balem’s agents, sent to kill her, and she is saved by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a former soldier sent by Titus. Stinger Apini (Sean Bean), an old comrade of Caine’s, agrees to help Jupiter, but a group of hunters take her to Kalique’s palace on a distant planet, where Kalique explains that Jupiter is genetically identical to the dead matriarch, and therefore the Earth’s rightful owner. Supported by Captain Diomika Tsing (Nikki Amuka-Bird) of the Aegis (an intergalactic police force), Caine retrieves her from Kalique, and brings her to the planet Ores (the intergalactic capital city) to claim her inheritance.
On the way back to Earth, Titus detains Jupiter and Caine, to whom he reveals his plan to marry and then kill Jupiter and claim Earth before throwing Caine into the void; but Caine survives and saves Jupiter at the altar. Jupiter asks to return home, but learns that her family has been taken hostage by Balem. In his refinery in the Great Red Spot, Balem demands Earth in exchange for Jupiter’s family. Realizing that Balem can “harvest” Earth only with her permission, Jupiter refuses. Balem tries to kill Jupiter; but she defeats him in a fight, and is rescued by Caine, Stinger, and Tsing. Jupiter’s family is returned home with no memory of their disappearance, while Jupiter secretly retains ownership of the Earth. Her family buys her the telescope she wanted and Caine receives a pair of wings earlier removed from his body.