UK Release Date: 6th February 2015
Runtime: 127 minutes
Director: The Wachowskis
Writer: The Wachowskis
Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton
Synopsis: A human girl discovers that she is the reincarnation of an alien matriarch and the only person who can prevent the Earth from being harvested.
Since making The Matrix, the Wachowski siblings have been among the most interesting directors working with big Hollywood budgets. They mounted an ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell novel Cloud Atlas and now seem to have gone full-tilt bonkers with original sci-fi concept Jupiter Ascending, which has so-bad-it’s-good cult classic written all over it.
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) works as an ordinary cleaner, until she donates her eggs to a fertility clinic and is attacked. She is rescued by part-wolf Caine (Channing Tatum) and part-bee Stinger (Sean Bean), who inform her she is the descendant of an alien matriarch whose death has ignited a power struggle. Her son Balem (Eddie Redmayne) wishes to harvest Earth in order to continue his trade in youth serum for the intergalactic elite.
Jupiter Ascending is one of the most ridiculous high-budget movies that has ever been released. It’s got the central conceit of a 1950s B-movie and a lot of the charm too, but it finds itself weighed down by bizarre tonal shifts and a central cast with no idea how straight to play it all.
| "A dream is the only way any of this make sense."
Mila Kunis makes for a remarkably bland leading lady. She spends most of the film making confused faces whilst everyone takes turns explaining the plot to her. It’s a fairly thankless role on the surface, but Kunis fails to bring anything of her own to it. All she gets to do is make gooey eyes at Channing Tatum and occasionally fall from a high building into his arms.
Tatum, too, is absolutely empty of any of the macho charisma he brought to the Jump Street films, and Sean Bean is nothing more than a rerun of the Basil Exposition character in the Austin Powers trilogy, saddled with some awful dialogue. Only Eddie Redmayne stands out in Jupiter Ascending, hamming it up to an absurd degree. It’s an awful performance, with Redmayne seemingly transported from another film – or a Christmas panto.
But the performances are nothing compared to the insanity of the overarching concept. Jupiter Ascending is incoherent and messy, but seems to think that it has something to say about consumerist culture. There is one bizarre sequence in which Kunis and others become mired in some sort of space bureaucracy. The film veers so acutely into Brazil territory that there’s even a cameo from Terry Gilliam himself.
| "Some lives will always matter more than others."
For all of its failings, though, there’s a certain joy to Jupiter Ascending. Its silliness is enduring and the Wachowskis have to be admired for their exuberance and their commitment to their outlandish premise. It doesn’t hang together in any way, but it’s fun to go along for the ride.
Pop or Poop?
In the hands of anyone other than the Wachowskis, Jupiter Ascending would never have been made. From its bonkers premise to the flamboyant acting, this is a film that is rife with unintentional comedy.
Eddie Redmayne sticks out like a particularly bad sore thumb, but it’s the idea that is the stinker here. I don’t know what they were thinking.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.