Jupiter Ascending Review
Jupiter Ascending is the latest from the Wachowskis, a science-fiction fantasy starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum. Jupiter (Kunis) is plucked from her less than ordinary life by mysterious Caine (Tatum), who tells her that she is destined for greatness amongst the stars and must use her hidden heritage to defeat villainous Balem (Eddie Redmayne). The film was originally slated for release in June 2014 but Warner had it pulled from release due to Edge of Tomorrow’s ‘lukewarm’ $20 million opening in the US. Taking this into account and considering that the trailers have done their best to give away as much of the plot as possible, only one question remains: is it worth the wait?
To some extent, no. To a larger extent...no. And to almost a complete extent, no.
The Wachowskis simply can’t grasp that copious dialogue doesn’t necessarily mean deep. There is so much superfluous political nonsense smattered with names, titles and planets you can’t keep up with that everything essential to understanding the plot or anything resembling character development get pulled inexorably into the abyss of boredom, something which Kunis’ and Tatum’s mono-expressional performances do nothing to solve.
The rest of the cast aren’t much to shout about either, with Sean Bean turning in the grumpy stereotype usually reserved for latter-day Liam Neeson performances, while brief spells from Terry Gilliam and Gugu Mbatha-Raw either go nowhere or undo the good work they’ve achieved of late. Speaking of which, an array of awards in honour of his film-stealing central performance in The Theory of Everything might not seem like such a sure thing for Eddie Redmayne anymore. The word ‘camp’ doesn’t even begin to cover this; in fact we might have to re-define the word in the dictionary by just replacing it with a still of Redmayne shrieking at his co-stars as flecks of spittle cover the lens.
Sadly, the high-flying action sequences that span the skies of Chicago and the depths of deep space suffer the Matrix sequel syndrome of just having grizzled men shooting at big clouds of robots for twenty minutes at a time. While it is true that occasionally there is a certain visual flair on display, the heavy reliance on transparent CGI and epileptic editing means that you’re barely given a chance to take it all in and the end result is a confusing, sub-J.J. Abrams affair of light and sound that will bore to death anyone over the age of two within thirty seconds.
When the directors aren’t taking up half the movie with their own tropes, they decide to just throw in a pick ‘n’ mix of costume designs and set pieces pinched from other genre pictures (most horrifically the wedding sequence from Flash Gordon … but impossibly camper!) and exploit the galaxy-spanning adventure to the max, with a two-hour running time that feels excruciatingly extravagant and painfully stretched to the point where half the audience will fall asleep and the other half will be too restless to get comfortable.
Like the Wachowski’s own Matrix movies and 2012’s John Carter, Jupiter Ascending desperately wants to be another film that can splash ‘this generation’s Star Wars’ across the poster. I think not only can it expect poor critical reception, but ironically a worse fate at the box office than befell Edge of Tomorrow or indeed John Carter because it’s too long, too shallow and very, very dull. Star bores, more like.