Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Jupiter-Ascending1

From the minds of the Wachowskis comes another magnificent and appetising visual spectacle, but aside from the look the film offers, their story leaves something more satisfying to be desired. Though going into this film on seeing the trailer at least, I knew what to expect and if you want a dazzling entertaining movie with little to no plot sense then see this.

On Earth lives cleaner Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who is in fact royalty to planets born long before our own planet. Squabbling Abrasax siblings led by Balem (Eddie Redmayne) want Jupiter, to stop her potential of ruling the world and so he can harvest humans to keep youthful. Lycan and splice warrior Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) turns up and uses his kick-ass ways to try and help Jones realise who she is and stop Balem too.

The story itself scripted by the Wachowskis isn’t exactly outstanding or coherent. There’s too much going on, back-stories, lots of characters and pepperings of motives and interests. If they had whittled the overblown plot to the bare essentials of Jupiter coming to realise her worth and helping overthrow the villains with Caine, then the film could have honed in on that more interesting and necessary story. It’s to be expected, I guess from Lana and Andy Wachowski, who have an admirable knack for creating vast worlds and ideas, evident in ‘The Matrix’ trilogy and their telling of ‘Cloud Atlas’ but sometimes less is more and sadly they don’t stick to that here.

Odd features of the plot work in favour of the stunning visuals but once looking past their glamorous appearance you wonder why they’re even there. A house covered in bees is one prime example that feels like a stretched tool to see the royal aura Jupiter possesses. The plot pure and simply is a tale of identity and realising potential in the face of greed and an evil thirst for consumption, but getting to that theme is a battle amongst all the stuff thrown at us.

Visual supervisor Dan Glass heads a hugely creditable team of CGI cronies that help craft a breathtaking series of worlds and locations. Shooting from flowery sceneries to high flying space fights twinkling with stars and filled with glossy ships gives the movie a great shine and in fact it holds the same impressive sci-fi scope of ‘Interstellar’ just without that intellect and reserve. Monstrous lizards, alien races and warping space crafts all add suitable science fiction treats to the eye and it’s an enjoyable romp to watch the effects unfold.

There are some funny moments to be had in the nonchalant way Jupiter comments on seeing things, the clunky dialogue (unintentional I know, but it adds to the fun) and in particular a scene featuring a nervous bureaucratic robot attempting to file Jupiter as queen and land her the deserved entitlement. The quickly edited sequence is stuffed with weird creatures and rules to follow and offices to wait at. The whole thing was actually masterfully carried out and feels like the comedic touch of ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’.

Channing Tatum is a silly and over the top werewolf human hybrid that skates through the sky like an Olympian Star Trek extra. There’s no stretch to any acting ability to play his role and in fact none of the actors need much push to play the characters but at least Tatum sells the goofily drawn protective Caine. Mila Kunis comes back after a personal break and lands herself in a fun role, emotion not really needed as she retorts and makes witty remarks about things. Her impressive deep eyes and likability help you want Jupiter to succeed but the space filled operatic vibe this story goes for doesn’t give her much scope to play with. Eddie Redmayne goes from universe professor to universe grabber as he turns acting onto the panto setting and softly hums his way through the vamperic role. Douglas Booth has more of the film to eat up in his soft faced nice boy act with a dangerous edge of sinister distrust. Sean Bean is Sean Bean though I won’t say if Bean gets his usual screen death.

Switch your brains to standby and marvel at the bold and huge scaled world created but don’t expect anything more than an entertaining messy sci-fi.

6/10

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