Jupiter Ascending

Inciting Event: Ex-soldier “splice” Caine saves Jupiter from being killed by aliens. My first thought was that the earlier scene in which Jupiter’s friend Carolyn is “tested” by the aliens and Jupiter takes a picture of them on her phone—before having her memory erased—was, in fact, the Inciting Event. After all, this is the first moment when aliens intersect with her life. But, nope, that can’t be the Inciting Event. Why? Because it doesn’t turn the plot. If the plot doesn’t move, then it can’t have been incited.

First Plot Point: Upon learning that Jupiter escaped, alien overlord Balem orders a blockade placed upon Earth. Caine and Jupiter fight their way out of Chicago—which is temporarily trashed behind them. This isn’t a particularly stunning First Plot Point. Sure, it’s a big action scene. But it doesn’t signify a clear-cut exit from Jupiter’s Normal World—which was pretty much already trashed at the Inciting Event.

First Pinch Point: Bounty hunters kidnap Jupiter and take her to Balem’s sister Kalique who reveals that Jupiter is a “recurrence” of her own mother and Earth is about to be harvested to make a valuable youth serum.

Midpoint: After Caine saves Jupiter from Kalique and calls in the miliary Aegis, Jupiter goes through the necessary legal proceedings to claim her right as the queen’s “recurrence” to gain access to her property, including Earth.

Second Pinch Point: Jupiter is kidnapped (again) by Balem and Kalique’s brother Titus. He tosses Caine into space and reveals that as soon as he gains title to Jupiter’s new holdings, via marriage, he plans to kill her.

Third Plot Point: After being saved by Caine and returning home, Jupiter discovers that Balem has kidnapped her family. She agrees to surrender herself to Balem in return for their lives.

Climax: Just as Balem is about to kill Jupiter, Caine smashes through the “grav hull” of Balem’s factory/ship. This both allows Jupiter to get the advantage of Balem and creates a ticking-clock for everyone as the ship begins to blow up.

Climactic Moment: Caine saves Jupiter (again) by pulling her through the space vortex just in time.

Resolution: Jupiter turns over a new leaf, receives a telescope as a gift from her family, and goes on a “date” with Caine.

Notes: Although this movie hits all the necessary structural moments, it lacks cohesion due to a staggering dearth of payoffs for the elements introduced early on, including (but probably not limited to):

  1. No sibling showdown among Balem, Kalique, and Titus.
  2. No glimpse of Caine’s elite military cadre, the Skyjackers.
  3. No demonstration of splice prejudice, such as Caine hints at.
  4. No harvesting of humans—on Earth or otherwise.
  5. No reference to the apparently pointless death of Jupiter’s dad in the prologue.
  6. No purpose to Jupiter’s friend Carolyn, other than Jupiter’s stealing her name
  7. No expansion of or explanation of the “bug” contracted by Stinger’s daughter.
  8. No ramifications to Stinger’s betrayal of Caine.
  9. No demonstration of “animal control” by Jupiter, as introduced by her abilities with Stinger’s bees.
  10. No development or reference to the bounty hunters.
  11. No point to Caine’s and Stinger’s having had wings.
  12. No throat ripping performed by Caine.
  13. No Aegis fallout from Caine’s and Stinger’s court-martials.
  14. No plot or thematic significance to the youth serum.

For a story about “recurrences,” there are regrettably few to be found in this episodic plot—other than, of course, Jupiter’s kidnappings and Caine’s rescues.

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