Jupiter Ascending is the latest project from the Wachowskis who everybody remembers for creating The Matrix (1999) which is already considered by many to be a classic science fiction film. Their latest creation stars Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones, a young lady of Russian extraction, who is about to be ripped out of her downbeat existence by a feuding alien dynasty. The Earth as it turns out is part of a massive industry dedicated to creating an exotic substance that keeps those who can afford it young for millennia.
I would normally write at this stage about a films themes or structure but there are a thousand and one (when I stopped counting) things going on in this film. The level of exposition is incredible and it’s hard to get your head around. The best way I can describe it is that it is like trying to pick up the thread of the story of a fantasy series after starting at the third book. You just can’t.
The one thing I can safely say is that this is one of the craziest films I have seen for a long, long time. We’ve got genetically engineered bees who can sense royalty, gravity defying skating boots and a very odd sequence where Jupiter has to work through an impenetrable bureaucracy to claim the right to her inheritance. This is before I get to the elephant in the room and that is the performance of Eddie Redmayne as the most ambitious member of the House of Abrasax, Balem. Blimey … wow … ermmm … yeah … what to say. I can only put it down to the direction he was given because he is much better than this.
There are two other things we learn from this film – the Wachowskis can’t do humour or romance. When the film gets its laughs I don’t think they’re all intentional and the romantic dialogue is toe curling to put it politely – if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve heard the line about liking dogs. There are action sequences that go for a few minutes two long and I think the film makers fell in love a little too much with the visuals they were trying to create.
To the films credit the one thing it isn’t is dull. The visuals of the planet of Jupiter are extremely well done and there are lots of lavish costumes and sets. Redmayne is astonishing, if not always for the right reasons, and Sean Bean is part bee. What else do you want to liven up a Tuesday evening?
To summarise there is little new in the film. The idea of a genetic elite is taken from Gattaca (1997), human harvesting is something we saw in The Matrix and the bodyguard figure (Channing Tatum) seems to have been plucked out of The Terminator (1984). It’s not very good but it is saved from disaster by the sheer bravado of the production. My rating 2/5.