Jupiter Ascending contains one extremely rare cinematic event; Sean Bean surviving to the end! Spoiler perhaps?
In truth, nothing could be said in this review that would prepare you for the preposterous sci-fi porn that The Wachowski’s have unleashed on an unprepared world. Supercharged dog soldiers (we’ll get to that) and toilet-cleaning royalty populate this shamelessly over-the-top space opera that wants desperately to be The Matrix meets Alice in Wonderland but ends up being something else entirely. Think more Titan A.E. spliced with a little John Carter.
While cleaning houses with her family, Jupiter Jones (Kunis) learns that she is the recurrence (think exact physical reincarnation without the cerebral connection) of intergalactic nobility. As she is the only one who can prevent the Earth becoming part of some huge cosmic industry her life is in mortal danger and she must rely on help from former legionnaire extraordinaire Caine Wise (Tatum), a man who shares DNA with a wolf, to save the population.
Despite the multitude of issues with Jupiter Ascending, including the cosmetically inspired central plot, there is one thing it certainly does not lack and that is ambition. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has proven without doubt that audiences are prepared to accept fantastical concepts and bizarre characters if they are made to empathise with them, to feel something when they win or lose. With Jupiter Ascending, the overriding feeling you have while watching is that everything is just unfathomably stupid. The characters are so shallow that only a ridiculous amount of overacting (we’re looking at you Eddie Redmayne) or stereotypical brooding (Tatum) can generate even a flicker of interest. As for the dialogue the now infamous “I like dogs” scene will haunt movie highlights shows for years to come and must give poor Mila Kunis nightmares.
The sad thing is that, despite or even because of the stupidity, Jupiter Ascending is actually pretty good fun. Stunning, although at times confusing, visuals give vibrant life to the off-world settings, the spaceships are beautifully designed with indulgent grandeur and there is some interesting originality to be found in the film’s ‘splicing’ theories; although Sean Bean’s Stinger doesn’t seem to benefit too much from his connection with bees. Go with it and this is a film that can be enjoyed for its failings and there can be no argument concerning the bravery of its filmmakers.
Given the spectacular nature of the film this Blu-ray disappointingly only comes with several standard featurettes that offer only a very routine peek behind the curtains of the filmmaking process. Many years ago when a ‘making of’ program would appear on television for Star Wars and the like, it would be filled with industry secrets and insider information. Today, with the abundance of material now available, the extras on a DVD need to offer something new and, apart from several interesting interview pieces with the Wachowski’s, nothing here offers any real insight.
Jupiter Ascending is without doubt the auteur directors most Wizard of Oz influenced film to date with themes of home and belonging to the fore but perhaps these more obvious references are to the film’s detriment. This isn’t a boring film, the ridiculousness of the performances will engage you if nothing else, but it isn’t as good as it could and should have been.
JUPITER ASCENDING / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ANDY WACHOWSKI, LANA WACHOWSKI / STARRING: CHANNING TATUM, MILA KUNIS, EDDIE REDMAYNE, SEAN BEAN / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 29TH