Ah, the turbulent film-making endeavors of the Wachowski’s. After the ground-breaking first Matrix film, they made two over-blown sequels, then wrote a good screenplay for V For Vendetta, Oh dear, then a mixed bag with Speed Racer. After that they followed up with Cloud Atlas, which some didn’t like, and some of us did. Yeah, I’m one of the people that liked it. Maybe because Tom Tykwer was involved? Because Jupiter Ascending is not on the “good” list of Wachowski films.
This is really kind of a shame, too, because I think there’s a lot of good happening in the idea of Jupiter Ascending. It is, however, a little complicated to explain in a brief synopsis. But let’s try anyway, shall we? Ok, Mila Kunis is really pretty. Right, her name is Jupiter Jones (!), and she’s cleaning toilets in rich people’s houses with her mom and aunt. But she is unknowingly an heir to a massive fortune, which includes the Earth! But there’s this uber wealthy family that includes three other heirs they are all pretty devious and not all that pleasant so that’s where Channing Tatum comes in. He’s Caine Wise, a sort of a genetic hybrid of human and wolf soldier sent to protect Jupiter. Lots of crazy sci-fi action ensues. Wait, Mila is queen of the Earth? I’ll let you chew on that a sec.
In between the action there is a lot of expedition about what the Hell is going on and how all this stuff works. Let’s look at that, shall we? Ok, so the interesting stuff is the overall mythology here. The universe is a big place full of ancient families looking to make money. It’s all business out there. Earth was populated about 100,000 years ago by this one particular family, and when a planet reaches its’ population limit, something called a “Harvest” takes place. Why that happens is kinda interesting but I won’t spoil it for you, in case you choose to see this movie even after this, and many other, reviews.
Then they talk about these soldier casts, and the elite casts, their place in things, and why many people are genetically bred with various types of animals and whatnot. The Wachowski’s wrote all this – not based on an existing book or anything like I though. Jupiter Ascending is beautiful and exciting to look at, with great effects, inventive production design, and a rich mythology and culture. Unfortunately, they’ve crammed too much of all this into just a few minutes over two hours, and they dropped in some really cheesy dialogue and some wince-inducing goofiness to boot.
Strangely, Jupiter Ascending felt like a film that could actually use some fleshing out. I could have seen this as two films, or even a trilogy, if they had gone back in and rewritten some scenes after finding a more consistent tone. Oh, and maybe ask villain Eddie Redmayne not act so affecting with his weird deep whispery voice. I don’t know what was going on there. Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, and Tuppence Middleton, round out the primary cast, and they are all perfectly adequate. Sadly, the script is not.
I can’t justifiably recommend Jupiter Ascending, but I’ll give it a couple kittenhands for the stuff I did like. It sort of felt like the Wachowski’s had a pitch that proposed two or three films, but the studio was like, nah, not happening. Make it work as one film. So they had to jam it all into two hours and it was just too much.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, still recommending you go see Predestination instead if you want to get your sci-fi fix.