It is fair to say that the Wachowskis have been unable to recapture the same cinematic buzz established in The Matrix. Even after following up the cult hit with two sequels, not to mention adaptations for V for Vendetta, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas, they have failed to hit the right notes. Their newest film, starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, is the latest attempt to wow audiences with their unique visual style.
Jupiter Ascending is about a young woman called Jupiter (Kunis), a cleaner who finds herself targeted by aliens. Rescued by hunter Caine (Tatum), she discovers that she is the heiress to Earth and an unwitting target of Balem (Eddie Redmayne), a member of alien royalty who wishes to have Earth for himself. As Balem puts a bounty on her head, it is up to Caine to protect Jupiter.
First of all, the story is ridiculous. The idea of a young woman, who coincidentally has the same genetic signature of alien royalty that makes her, quite literally, the keeper of Earth, is quite far-fetched. It is evident that the Wachowskis try and ground this by putting in certain aspects, such as traditional sibling rivalry and Jupiter’s bickering family, but it just ends up feeling like an intergalactic soap opera.
The dull acting from its cast doesn’t help. Tatum remains straight-faced throughout the film and Kunis is surprisingly nonchalant, despite her character’s importance and never-ending turmoil. On the supporting side, Sean Bean plays the typical gruff ex-soldier whereas Douglas Booth and Eddie Redmayne don’t do very much besides turn on the smarm and look pretty. To be fair, Redmayne does try and bring in the theatrics that unfortunately just come across as camp.
The only saving grace for Jupiter Ascending is the visuals. A film that is indulgent on the CGI, it is stunning and the action sequences, especially an 8-minute chase scene that took six months to film, are well-coordinated. It is a shame that the visuals are unsupported by the other elements of the piece.
With its great visuals but poor plot, Jupiter Ascending is likely to be the lesser space saga film of 2015.
Jupiter Ascending is out in UK cinemas on Friday 6th February.
Directors: Andy Wachowski (as The Wachowskis) , Lana Wachowski (as The Wachowskis)
Writers: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Stars: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne
Runtime: 127 mins