Directors: The Wachowskis
Screenwriters: The Wachowskis
Runtime: 127 mins.
Australian release date: 19 February 2015
Imagine leading a boring old life cleaning toilets until one day, after your crazy cousin suggests you sell your eggs to a local fertility clinic so you can purchase a few luxuries, you find yourself caught up in what is described by the leading lady of this sci-fi extravaganza as a steaming heap of “holy crap!”
And crap it is, albeit highly imaginative crap. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is the daughter of a Russian mother and a deceased father who was fascinated by space. Perhaps he was psychic because, unbeknownst to the young woman, she is being hunted by extra-terrestrial beings, the three siblings of The House of Abrasax, a dynasty that “owns” our solar system and is planning to “harvest” the Earth - except that Jupiter unwittingly stands in their way. Don’t say you weren’t warned… this is the Wachowskis after all.
Just as terrible things are about to befall our damsel in distress she is saved by a lone vigilante, Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), who turns out to be a genetically mutated wolf “splice” - don’t ask, I couldn’t follow it either. It’s not long though before Jupiter is in peril again and Caine ends up going on a blade-running spree (he has special boots) across the universe in hot pursuit of his new pal. The Abrasax trio needs to eliminate Jupiter, who they believe is their reincarnated mother and their Queen, no less, in order to take control of the Earth.
In the meantime, they are all jockeying for position and squabbling among themselves because this is a game of winner-takes-all; the cutest brother, Titus (Douglas Booth), tries to take Jupiter’s hand in marriage; his sister Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) tries to entice her with the promise of vast riches; while the last, and most bad-ass of the three, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), just tries to kill her. He speaks in a soft, sibilant whisper but screams a lot when he’s not getting his way, which is quite often. Redmayne’s hammy performance is delivered with an air of overblown malevolence; it’s a far cry from his recent tour-de-force in The Theory Of Everything.
Jupiter Ascending is a long journey in to space and it has to be said that there are some pretty fine special effects on show in this 3D trip, plus John Toll’s excellent cinematography deserves credit, but the script is pretty nonsensical and the performances pretty lame too. Kunis just manages to hold a certain amount of fascination, but this may have more to do with her range of eyelashes than her performance skills; Tatum looks constantly bewildered and with his pointed ears and goatee he looks like he’d be more at home in Middle Earth than Deep Space!
Written and directed by the duo that brought you the great Matrix franchise and Cloud Atlas, it seems that the Wachowskis have served up an Eton mess this time round. Still, it will appeal to sci-fi geeks and is possibly a good tonic if you need to be transported to another realm to take the edge off a boring week at work. Just stay away from your local fertility clinic!