Film / Jupiter Ascending

"I CREATE LIFE!!!...and I destroy it."
Balem Abrasax

Jupiter Ascending is a 2015 space opera film from the Wachowskis.

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a Russian immigrant girl raised in Chicago who makes her living cleaning houses with her family. Unbeknownst to her, she is also the genetic recurrence (reincarnation) of the Queen of the Universe, whose three scions are vying for control of Earth. The son of the queen, Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne), sends an agent to kill Jupiter, but the other son Titus Abrasax sends Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), part-wolf part-human super soldier, to protect her, and they team up with Stinger Apini (Sean Bean) to confront the Abrasax siblings and protect Jupiter's claim.

The film was released in the US on February 6th, 2015. Watch the teaser trailer here and the main trailer here.

No relation to Mercury Rising.

Tropes found in Jupiter Ascending:

  • Aliens Speaking English: Everyone in this movie not from Earth speaks English and it is never even handwaved away. It gets to the point where even the writing in the alien spaceships and bureaucratic offices is in English. A bit jarring, since even Jupiter's family doesn't exclusively speak English.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Jupiter's family. They're seen eating latkes at one point.
  • Animal Motifs: The Splices, with varying levels of subtlety.
    • Stinger is a beekeeper with incredibly precise piloting skills. He also used to have wings.
    • Caine is described in-universe as a lone wolf searching for a pack. His characterization is defined by his loyalty to Jupiter and martial skills.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The alien dynasties that seeded Earth millenia ago inspired many of humanity's myths about vampires and dragons (one of the races that work for Balem even looks like smaller dragons) and possibly even deities. Humanity isn't even native to Earth, having actually evolved on a planet called Ourus, and Earth was "seeded" by Abrasax Industries roughly one hundred thousand years ago.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: Jupiter's parents are said to have met while stargazing at the shore of Neva in Saint-Petersburg. Saint-Petersburg is in fact overcast during most of the year, and even when the sky is not clouded, stars can't be seen there.
  • At Least I Admit It: Unlike their sister, Balem and Titus don't try to sugar-coat the fact that obtaining their youth serum results in the deaths of untold billions of people.
  • Awesome McCool Name: Jupiter Jones, Caine Wise and Stinger Apini.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: A downplayed example. The three Abrasax siblings all have competing schemes, and none of them are particularly good. By the end of the movie Kalique's scheme has gone off exactly as planned...Jupiter claimed her inheritance at the expense of one of Balem's most important holdings. What's more, depending on how inheritance laws work she may even get a share of what Balem had left when he died. Ultimately, the brothers had far worse designs, so Kalique is definitely the lesser of three evils here.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Balem is one of the three Abrasix siblings competing for Jupiter's inheritance and is the most evil of them as he's trying to harvest Earth after she gives him the planet while Titus is another one of those siblings and is also trying to kill Jupiter. The fact that they’re also at odds with each other is the only reason Jupiter has a chance in hell of staying alive.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Nobody outside of Jupiter is genuinely concerned with the harvesting of billions of innocents like the people of Earth and others in order to have the genetic material for Recodes, comparing it to animals being humanely slaughtered for their meat and it being perfectly legal within the system.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Titus vents Caine into the vacuum of space in an attempt to kill him, but leaves him his jet boots and allows him to kick a crate filled with instant-space suits that get vented along with him, thus allowing Caine to survive until the Aegis arrive to rescue him. Not only was it a sloppy attempt to murder him, it was also completely unnecessary, as there was nothing Caine could do to thwart Titus when he was merely imprisoned.
  • Bullet Time: It's the fucking Wachowskis, though it shows up extremely sparingly, most notably in the fight between Caine and Stinger to show how quickly Stinger can move despite his age.
  • Changeling Fantasy: Jupiter Jones is the genetic reincarnation of the Queen of the Universe. There are three groups that are looking for her: the Queen's elder son who wants to kill her so she can't reclaim the inheritance he received, the Queen's younger son who wants to marry her (and then kill her) so he can steal the inheritance, and another group trying to protect her.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Several. The word "harvest" (used to describe Jupiter's egg donation and the process of collecting humans), Caine's portal maker which is used to kill Mr. Greeghen...
  • Chewing the Scenery: While everyone is having some fun with the script, no one is chewing more scenery than Eddie Redmayne. Most of the time, he speaks in a hoarse whisper... Until things start going downhill, and then he breaks out the shouting.
    Balem: I CREATE LIFE!!!!!
    Balem: And... I... destroy it.
  • Collapsing Lair: The headquarters of Balem's corporation, located on Jupiter, begins to be demolished because the "grav-hull [was] ruptured," and "[t]he gas was reacting to the stockworks", due to Caine's vessel having punctured the barrier around the planet and crashed into several structures. Maybe it was a bad idea to establish a base of operations on a planet so naturally hostile to life and machinery alike.
  • Cool Plane: The maneuverable, adjustable, submersible one-person fighter craft of the film outdo many of the space fighters out there.
  • Cool Starship: Both the functional and cool looking Aegis ship and the over-the-top elaborate personal ships of the Abrasax family.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: At least one fight scene is human/wolf hybrid Caine fighting a group of space dragon soldiers.
  • Costume Porn:
  • Cryptic Background Reference: While the film is actually pretty good at world-building with background references and a surprisingly interesting universe, one reference in particular feels cryptic. Caine, the part-wolf part-human super soldier, is said to have ripped the throat out of an Entitled, yet he doesn't remember the incident taking place and apparently was informed of its occurrence by his mentor, Stinger. The only indication that it actually happened is that he was court-martialled for the crime, and is no longer a skyjacker. Who the Entitled was, the reasons for it occurring, and why Caine is said to have done it in a fit of rage when we never see him acting out of rage at any point in the movie, is never expanded upon.
  • Disney Villain Death: Balem falls to his doom from a collapsing platform.
  • The Dragon: Mr. Greeghan to Balem, after his predecessor Tskalikin is killed for his failure to capture Jupiter. Amusingly, the Sargon, his race of humanoid winged reptilians, resemble Dragons and are implied to have started the original myth on Earth.
  • Easily Forgiven: Caine quickly forgives Stinger for handing him and Jupiter over to Titus. Justified, as Stinger also alerted the authorities about the situation and only did it to save his ailing daughter. Stinger is also one of the few people skilled enough to help Caine save Jupiter, and he also makes clear there are no other potential reasons he might turn on Caine a second time.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The three Abrasax siblings are introduced overlooking a Harvested planet with zero remorse and arguing (subtly) over their mother and the inheritance she left them. Jupiter has a montage of cleaning other people's houses and admiring their beautiful and expensive things. And Caine's introduced with all the bounty hunters speaking in awe of him: cue fight scene.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: All three Abrasax siblings remember their mother fondly, and each is (in his or her own way) carrying out her legacy. Didn't stop Balem from killing her, though.
  • Exact Words: Balem's intentions are pretty transparent when he's trying to blackmail Jupiter into abdication—send her and her family back to Earth, and immediately harvest the planet. It's so transparent, in fact, that she realizes as much and decides to spite him by refusing, even knowing he'll kill her family (and probably her as well).
  • Fanservice:
    • Kalique emerges nude from the fountain at one point. Also Caine takes his shirt off at one point, perfectly normal since he's treating an injury, but it doesn't go back on until he's collected some weapons, had a fight, stowed away on a space ship and gets to another planet.
    • Balem's lounge attire.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Splices are generally looked down upon.
    • Earth as well is looked down upon, but it is done subtly. For example, the Abrasax siblings don't refer to Earth as a planet, but as an industry. They treat the people as a commodity.
  • Feudal Future: The space-faring human civilization is stated to be a "confederation" but families such as the House of Abrasax, which has titles and seals and succession crisises and all that, seem to dominate the economy.
  • Foreshadowing: Kalique admitting that her people may have inspired the myths about vampires foreshadows the later revelation that their youth serum is made from people.
  • Fountain of Youth: A special fluid restores your youth when you bathe in it. Unfortunately, it's produced by killing and processing people.
  • God Is Evil: Humans were created by the Abrasax with the intention of being harvested eventually.
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
    • Caine, both genetically manufactured and half wolf. Stinger and Famulus also count, being half bee and half deer respectively.
    • Technically, all of Earth is this way, Earth-humans having been spliced with native species during the seeding.
  • Hover Skates: First Caine, and later Jupiter Jones, sport a pair of these.
  • Human Aliens: Inverted. All humans come from a distant planet, Orous, while Earth humans (and Splices) are lesser beings artificially created by genetic engineering. We're the human aliens.
  • Humans by Any Other Name: Caine refers to the humans of Earth as "Terrsies" in a tone that is very condescending.
  • Human Resources: The Earth, as well as countless other planets, are just People Farms. The DNA is used to keep the more privileged humans eternally young.
  • I Have No Son: Inverted. Jupiter tells Balem just before he fell to his death that she's not his mother.
  • I Have Your Wife: Happens more than once. Stinger's daughter is ailing, compelling him into handing Jupiter and Caine over to Titus in exchange for the money to afford a 'recode'. Balem does this with Jupiter's entire family, in order to convince her to abdicate so he can take Earth for his own.
  • Immortality Immorality: How the Abrasax family — and presumably others out in space — maintain their long lives is pretty horrible. The substance that rejuvenates them is created by harvesting human life forms they seeded millennia ago on other planets.
  • Impoverished Patrician:
    • "Impoverished" is a relative term here, but all three heirs stood to lose a portion of their inheritance once Jupiter ascended. A few lines also make it clear they're no longer even in the line of inheritance if she dies, her Earth family would Ascend. Given that Kalique’s scheme hinged on this it can be presumed that the lion’s share of Jupiter’s inheritance would come out of Balem’s holdings. Titus in particular is this: while he maintains an expensive lifestyle, he's running out of money and failed a recent financial enterprise, which is why he competes with his siblings for control of Earth.
    • While at the house of a wealthy client, a young woman is dithering over the prospect of receiving a marriage proposal from one of America's richest bachelors. She compares herself to Cinderella. The irony is lost on her, though clearly not on Jupiter.
  • Interspecies Romance: The human Jupiter and the half-wolf genetically engineered supersoldier Caine.
  • Just Between You and Me: Titus tells Caine his plan before throwing him out the airlock. Like most Evil Gloating, it backfires.
  • Karma Houdini: Titus Abrasax faces no consequences for his actions in the movie other than some mild damage to his clipper, although Caine does try to assure Jupiter that he'll receive his comeuppance via bureaucracy.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The space police and bounty hunters come standardly equipped with the ability to make people on the worlds they're visiting forget any of the things they see that are out of the ordinary, including inducing laser-guided amnesia and building back structures that were damaged in combat that the visitors were involved in. However, the fact that people may have been killed during the fight wasn't brought up.
  • Layman's Terms:
    Caine [The boots] harness the force of gravity, redirecting it into differential equation slips so you can surf.
    Jupiter: Yeah, I heard 'gravity' and 'surf'.
    Caine: Up is hard. Down is easy.
  • Masquerade: One is enforced on Earth through liberal use of Laser-Guided Amnesia technology so that the Terrans don't notice when things get out of hand among the aliens.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Jupiter was born in the House of Leo with Jupiter ascending, which according to her aunt means she's destined for greatness.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I hate my life." First said during a montage of Jupiter's boring life on Earth, then comes back to bite her when Balem reveals that it's what his mother said to him before he killed her.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Jupiter has the name of an extra-terrestrial body. Jupiter is also the name of the king of the gods, as Jupiter is the queen of the interstellar magnates. In-universe, her name is meaningful to her family as her father named her after his favorite planet, and she was born with Jupiter in Leo.
    • Stinger Apini is part bee. (Apinae is the subfamily for most bees in Taxonomy).
    • Caine is part canine. He's also a badass who starts out working for a bad guy, fitting with Name of Cain.
    • Kalique is said the same way as Caligula — the corrupt and decadent dictator.
    • Knock off the 'm' from Balem and you have Bale, as in evil and spite.
    • Abrasax is from Greek Mythology, the name itself refers to the order of the seven classical planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). In the context of the movie, it refers to how their dynasty "owns" all of the planets.
    • The elephant splice pilot is named Nesh, after the Hindu Ganesh.
    • Gugu Mbatha-Raw's character is a deer-splice and Titus' right-hand woman. Fittingly, her name is Famulus, which means "assistant or servant."
  • Naval Blockade: Balem orders a planetary blockade of Earth as soon as he finds out that Jupiter escaped his agents. It fails miserably.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Balem gives Jupiter a pretty relentless beating with a metal rod after she foils his plan. She later returns the favor.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted; Jupiter uses a maxi pad (for lack of anything else) as a bandage for Caine's wound, telling him to be thankful that the car they’ve stolen is owned by a woman - although she applies it sticky side down.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Jupiter holds Caine at gunpoint when she first meets him. Subverted in that he tells her how to disengage the safety, so when she holds it up again, it's primed to fire. He actually left the gun there for her to point at him, so she'd feel more comfortable.
  • Oedipus Complex: The driving force of the movie is the conflict between the Abrasax siblings and Jupiter, the genetic recurrence of their mother. While the Abrasax patriarch is never mentioned or seen, the two Abrasax brothers definitely have an unhealthy interest in their mother.
    • Titus is The Casanova whose defining scene is a Zero-G Spot pseudo-orgy of heavy petting. He plans to secure his claim to Earth by marrying Jupiter, and all that implies.
    • Balem's main goal is to kill Jupiter to retain his claim to Earth. Pretty standard villain fare, until his Villainous Breakdown culminates in the reveal that he murdered their mother in the first place, and he screams "SHE BEGGED ME TO DO IT!!" That's more than a little obsessed with her.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Balem subjects this to Jupiter: he promises her that if she abdicates the throne, he'll wait to harvest Earth until after she's dead and he'll let her family live. Subverted when she realizes, that even if he does kill her and her family, he can't harvest Earth if she doesn't abdicate, whereas if she does, then they're all animals for the slaughter. She thus decides that, if the choice is between her and her family being murdered or being harvested with the rest of the Earth, she'll pick the option that hurts Balem.
  • Oh Crap!: Jupiter's cousin Vladie's reaction when she didn't sell her eggs, because the doctors were Keepers in disguise trying to kill her. Thus, unable to pay off the stuff he bought, and having the rest of the family found out.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Balem spends a lot of time sending minions to do his dirty work, but not once do we see him leave the Jupiter refinery.
  • Out-Gambitted: Balem and Titus spend most of the movie sending more guards or bribing more mercenaries to bring them Jupiter. Kalique buys out two of Balem's mercenaries so that she sees Jupiter first, and is nothing but polite and kind to her. The result is that Titus is under investigation by the Aegis and Balem is dead, while Kalique is alive and well to take control of the company, exactly as she wanted.
  • Parental Incest: The several millenniums old Titus Abrasax tries to force Jupiter Jones, the reincarnation of his mother, to marry him. However, while he does creepily try to charm her, he only wants to marry her so he can be her heir, then immediately kill her to get the inheritance.
  • People Farms: The sole point of Earth (and countless other planets seeded by the Abrasax family) is to grow a sizable population and then kill the entire planet overnight, turning them into immortality bathwater.
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: The extinction of the dinosaurs was engineered by aliens because they were deemed too hostile to human life. Once they were gone, Earth was seeded for eventual harvesting.
  • Praetorian Guard: Each of the Abrasax siblings have their own Royal Guard. Balem doesn't rely on them as much as the others in favor of Mr. Greeghan and his men. Jupiter is also informed that she's entitled to a Royal Guard by law, after being legitimized.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Zig-Zagged. Jupiter herself clearly wants to prevent the Earth from being harvested, but the Aegis crew, and in general anyone who helps her, are never shown to care one way or the other about the Earth. They're portrayed as heroic simply for protecting Jupiter's legal inheritance.
  • Really 700 Years Old: All the Abrasax siblings, and potentially any monied character Jupiter encounters in space. Kalique in particular just turned 14,004 years old and her mother was in her 91st millennium when she died (and not of old age).
  • Revenge Before Reason: Balem is willing to harvest Earth ahead of schedule just to spite and/or kill Jupiter, even though Mr. Night points out the serious financial blow doing so would entail.
  • Royally Screwed Up: The Abrasax clan; even the best of them—arguably Kalique, the only one whose endgame doesn't seem to necessitate Jupiter's death—has no qualms committing genocide for the sake of immortality.
  • Scenery Porn: all the scenery is taken to an absurd degrees of detail, ranging from the insides of even the cruisers and motorbikes, to the individual planets and the starships.
  • Schizo Tech: Ores looks like any number of bureaucratic facilities built in the early 20th century, staffed by splices and androids who ask for signatures in the form of thumbprints. In sharp contrast to House Abrasax's Crystal Spires and Togas look.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Averted. In a rare exception in space opera movies, 3 million or even billions of people isn't a huge number, centuries and even thousands of years is a short period of time, and a planet is a common resource- though some are more valuable for various reasons. Also, fancy orbital structures are very delicate and anything that works as a spaceship works as a projectile.
  • Screw Your Ultimatum!: Jupiter does this to Balem. He can kill her and her family, but the alternative is just as bad and this way she's screwing him over in the process.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Balem killed his mother, because she begged him to, likely because she can't stand taking part in the planetary genocides anymore.
  • Shout-Out: Jupiter's blue gingham flannel shirt from the beginning of the film. Lana made this explicit in at least one interview.
  • Space Police: The Aegis. They're "like cops" and provide legal services and an escort.
  • Starscraper: Ourus has buildings which extend into space.
  • Starship Luxurious: All the personal ships of the Abrasax heirs qualify, but Titus' clipper takes the cake. It has its own cathedral inside, as well as 100 meter tall gilded statues lining the hull.
  • Suddenly Shouting: When Balem Abrasax isn't whispering, he's shouting. Transcends into Villainous Breakdown by the end.
    Balem: Bring her to me... NOW!!!
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Stinger and his daughter both have these, although they only appear gold for a moment when they do so. They appear to be from their partial bee DNA, apparently.
  • Time Abyss: The late Abrasax Matriarch was over 91 thousand years old when she died. Of the "younger" generation Kalique recently passed the 14 millennia mark and she's the middle child.
  • Vast Bureaucracy: The captain of the Aegis cruiser would much rather go into battle than dealing with the bureaucracy that claiming Jupiter's title to Earth involves. She's not exaggerating.
    Jupiter: I'll never complain about the DMV ever again.
  • We Win Because You Didn't: This sums up Kalique's gambit in a nutshell. As the middle child, she seems to be well-off and financially stable. By allowing Jupiter to ascend and protecting her from Titus, she screws over her older brother, who loses his greatest asset by virtue of it being Jupiter's inheritance, and prevents Titus from becoming more powerful by keeping Jupiter out of his hands.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Titus disappears from the story after Caine rescues Jupiter from the forced marriage. Granted, he might have been apprehended or arrested, but we never see it, and it's never mentioned by anyone (Caine begins to explain Titus' likely fate, but Jupiter cuts him off).
    • This seems to be the case for a number of characters: The bounty hunters, Kalique, and Advocate Bob also vanish the moment their role in the plot has been fulfilled. Since most of these people are bit players in the unfolding events, or have lost the ability to influence the outcome, it's justified. Stinger's daughter Kiza is actually gone before her relevance is explained.
  • You Have Failed Me: After his bounty hunters betray him and his keepers fail to capture Jupiter, Balem tortures and executes his reptillian Sargorn head of security, Mr. Tskalikin. Balem makes sure the replacement, Mr. Greeghan, watches it happen. It's an especially strange example, considering Tskalikin wasn't directly responsible for anything that went wrong, but was killed anyway, apparently for the sole purpose of having someone, anyone, to blame.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Balem points out Jupiter isn't a killer. He's right, so she lowers the gun and shoots him in the leg, which is still very satisfying.