Despite their career-making success with The Matrix in 1999, the Wachowski siblings have since lost popularity with their box office flops The Matrix: Revolutions, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas. Though highly-anticipated, their latest sci-fi offering, Jupiter Ascending, could be another film to add to that list. Though the graphics and space/future city architecture is impressively imagined, the characters and the storyline are laughable and cringe-worthy.
Russian-American Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) thinks she is just a regular girl, working as a cleaner scrubbing rich people’s houses. Little does she know, she is the Queen of the Bees, and the reincarnated heiress to planet earth. When aliens come to assassinate her under orders by Balem (Eddie Redmayne) she is rescued by a wolf-human military hunter Caine (Channing Tatum) and taken to her new home planet where she can claim her title.
Suspending belief (because you must when it comes to sci-fi), there is a lot to like in Jupiter Ascending. It has all the beautiful landscapes and visionary creationism that we saw in Guardians of the Galaxy and the quality graphics of Interstellar. Where it doesn’t match either of those two hits is in the charisma of its characters or it’s soundtrack (Guardians wins there) or the emotional punch (Interstellar had its moments, at least). Oscar-nominated Eddie Redmayne tries his best at restrained intensity, but it’s the badly-written lines he has to deliver that make his scenes sniggerable instead of sincere.
The romance too, seems like a bit of an afterthought instead of a plausible love affair, with one of Mila Kunis’s lines amounting to “If you’re a wolf you could just bite me, right? Do you want to bite me?”* Even Twilight did better than this.
But with such a tremendous amount of work and money going into the making of a film like this, it’s unfair to boil it down into just a good or bad film. There are a lot of original ideas packed into the film that we’d never see if the Wachowskis weren’t around, and heaven help us, we’d probably be stuck with yet another superhero sequel on our hands. If you like sci-fi, there’ll no doubt be something in Jupiter Ascending to tickle your fancy. Don’t be put off by all the critics damning it – see it for yourself.
Jupiter Ascending is due for UK release on Feb 6.
*a rephrasing of the exact quote.