Jupiter Ascending appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a consistently solid presentation.
Sharpness worked well. Only the slightest sliver of softness ever affected wide shots, so the vast majority of the movie brought us terrific clarity and definition. No signs of jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to materialize.
In terms of palette, Ascending usually went with “Hollywood Standard” teal and orange. While that trend was predictable, I couldn’t complain about the replication, as the hues looked strong within their stylistic constraints. Blacks came across as dark and tight, and shadows appeared smooth and easily discernible. All aspects of the image satisfied.
This Blu-ray lets you hear the film with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack – if you own the equipment to play it. The track works on standard Blu-ray players but requires an Atmos-equipped receiver – as well as more speakers – to get the full effect. Maybe someday I’ll upgrade for Atmos, but that day isn’t today.
Happily, the Atmos mix played back as Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those of us with “antiquated” systems and it added strong involvement to the experience. The soundfield presented an active and lively piece that constantly engaged the various speakers. The film showed distinctive imagery throughout the movie that placed different auditory elements accurately within the spectrum and meshed them together nicely.
Music provided strong stereo imaging, and effects popped up from the appropriate locations. Quieter scenes displayed natural ambience, while the many action set pieces involved engrossing and vibrant imaging.
Audio quality also seemed positive. Speech consistently appeared natural and crisp, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded bright and dynamic as the disc neatly replicated the score.
Effects packed a nice wallop when necessary, as these elements seemed clean and distinct at all times. Bass response came across as deep and tight, and the low-end added a good layer of depth and oomph to the package. I thought this was a consistently impressive soundtrack.
This package includes both 2D and 3D versions of Ascending. The picture quality comments above address the 2D edition, but I also want to talk about the 3D image.
This seemed to be a somewhat spotty presentation. Much of the time, I felt the 3D visuals looked tight and concise, but occasional scenes seemed softer than I would’ve liked. The 3D side of things also reduced brightness and led to some slightly murky shots.
I didn’t think the 3D itself added much to the experience. A few shots – mainly with flylng or floating or in space – delivered a good sense of immersiveness, but those remained too infrequent to create much of an impact.
Most of the movie stayed with a general sense of depth, and it did so reasonably well. Nonetheless, I didn’t view the 3D elements as particularly involving. Because it offered the stronger set of visuals, I preferred the 2D presentation.
In terms of extras, Ascending comes with seven featurettes. Jupiter Jones: Destiny Is Within Us runs six minutes, 56 seconds and provides notes from writers/directors Lana and Andy Wachowski and actors Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Tuppence Middleton and Eddie Redmayne. Though it briefly discusses other roles, “Destiny” mostly focuses on the movie’s lead. It delivers a handful of minor thoughts but mostly feels superficial.
Another character becomes the focus of Caine Wise: Interplanetary Warrior. This goes for five minutes, 18 seconds and offers info from Lana and Andy Wachowski, Tatum, Kunis, costume designer Kym Barrett, makeup/hair designer Jeremy Woodhead, UK stunt/fight coordinator Benjamin Cooke, and actor Sean Bean. As expected, this piece concentrates on Tatum’s role, so some fluffiness ensues. That said, we learn some interesting tidbits about design areas and stunts, so “Warrior” merits a look.
We look at the writers/directors during The Wachowskis: Mind Over Matter. It fills seven minutes, 25 seconds with remarks from Tatum, Kunis, Bean, Middleton, Lana and Andy Wachowski, Redmayne, Woodhead, Middleton, VFX supervisor Dan Glass, producer Grant Hill, and actors Douglas Booth, Kick Gurry, James D’Arcy, Edward Hogg, Oona Bae, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Terry Gilliam, David Ajala and Tim Pigott-Smith. Essentially “Matter” tells us how talented and awesome the Wachoswkis are. It lacks substance.
In the nine-minute, 36-second Worlds Within Worlds Within Worlds, we hear from Kunis, Hill, Barrett, Woodhead, Lana and Andy Wachowski, Tatum, Glass, Bean, Booth, Middleton, and Redmayne. Here we learn about various sets, effects and other design topics. Though it comes with some good info, the continuation of the puffy tone from the prior featurettes makes it less consistent than I’d like.
Genetically Spliced lasts 10 minutes, 25 seconds and features Pigott-Smith, Bean, Woodhead, Glass, Tatum, Hogg, Barrett, Cooke, Middleton, and actor Ariyon Bakare. Once again, we learn about various design topics. Once again, we get more praise than I’d like, but enough info occurs to turn this into a useful piece.
Next we get the nine-minute, 35-second Bullet Time Evolved. It offers details from Glass, Lana and Andy Wachowski, Tatum, Kunis, Redmayne, and stunt performer Taig Khris. Stunts and effects dominate “Evolved”, and we find the usual mix of worthwhile details and puffery.
Finally, From Earth to Jupiter (And Everywhere In Between) occupies nine minutes, 34 seconds and provides material from Kunis, Hogg, Bean, Pigott-Smith, D’Arcy, Lana and Andy Wachowski, Doyle Kennedy, Bakare, Gurry, Glass, Middleton, Lana and Andy Wachowski, Booth and Redmayne. Again we learn how amazing and imaginative the Wachowskis are. We still find a smattering of decent details but the praise remains a drag.
The disc opens with ads for San Andreas and Pan. No trailer for Ascending appears here.
A second disc presents a DVD copy of Ascending. It includes the “Destiny” and “Spliced” featurettes but lacks any of the other extras.
With Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowskis reach their low point. The movie suffers from recycled ideas, dull characters and lackluster action, none of which threaten to engage or entertain the viewer. The Blu-ray brings us excellent picture and audio as well as a collection of mediocre featurettes. Maybe someday the Wachowskis will create another movie that reminds us why they impressed us so much with The Matrix, but Jupiter Ascending becomes a total misfire.