- RatedPG13 /GenreAction, Science Fiction
If only science fiction were real.
Why? Because this reviewer wants to go in a machine you see in too many sci-fi movies to make himself 15 years old again.
That is the only way one can completely enjoy ‘Jupiter Ascending’, an action space-adventure that packs a galaxy’s worth of cosmic political intrigue, interstellar love story, weird aliens hybrid soldiers, even weirder space royalty, lots of explosions, a really gorgeous female protagonist and more mind-boggling space stuff.
It does not seem to take itself seriously, and a grown-up who has seen too many overly serious science fiction movies would just have to suit up for the crazy ride.
Think of it as ‘Star Wars’, Luc Besson’s ‘The Fifth Element’ and Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’ all rolled into one cosmic breakfast burrito – you get everything in one single bite. It’s delicious but absolutely absurd.
WACHOWSKIS BACK IN SCI-FI FORM
Did we mention that ‘Jupiter Ascending’ is the work of the Wachowski siblings? You know, the pair that gave us the awesome ‘Matrix’ movies and then uninspiring fare such as ‘Speed Racer’ and ‘Cloud Atlas’?
In ‘Jupiter Ascending’, Lana and Andy Wachowski dispense with the heavy philosophical prattle that made ‘Cloud Atlas’ so mind-numbing and instead, hand us a sci-fi potboiler with their signature aesthetic.
Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones, an undocumented immigrant born on a cargo ship. Her Russian mother Aleksa (Maria Doyle Kennedy) has fled to America after mobsters killed her British astronomer husband Maximilian (James D’Arcy).
Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones. Queens tend to look like geishas in space (cue Natalie Portman's Queen Amidala) | Photo: Golden Village Pictures
Working with her mother and aunt as a housekeeper, Jupiter laments her life. But it turns out she is not just your run-of-the-mill human. She is of alien royalty stock – something to do with a genetic “recurrence”.
Also in the plot is a long-dead space queen who had left ownership of much of the universe to her three scheming Abraxas heirs: Balem (Eddie Redmayne playing it for the camera), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth).
They all want to get their hands on the matriach’s property, especially a blue planet called Earth, one that is so overpopulated that it is ripe for the picking, so that they may make space-juice to keep themselves youthful.
Did we mention that Channing Tatum's character has wings? Is he a wolf-human hybrid? Or space-elf? | Photo: Golden Village Pictures
Yup. In this movie, humans are just ingredients for alien anti-aging skincare lotion.
Balem wants Jupiter dead so that he can claim Earth, but his plans are thwarted by Caine (Channing Tatum), a space-hunter with gravity boots that allows him to skate his way around. Of course, Jupiter and Caine are soon chased by space alien soldiers.
What the Wachowskis excel at are in creating gorgeous worlds that are epic in scale, from the hellish maelstrom of the planet to the dazzling interiors of the Abraxas’ ships to the gritty human harvester industrial complex.
The expansive interplanetary vistas and vast scope help to justify the labyrinthine plot twists. Admittedly, there are some gaping plot holes the sizes of moons, but with the action so thick, the pace so furious and the visuals so dazzling, you just wouldn’t care.
The cast is anchored by Kunis and Tatum who are solid in their roles.
As Jupiter, she is a bewildering mix of damsel-in-distress and space-age anti-hero. She delivers as the fearless, funny and likeable Jupiter who grudgingly accepts the highest station in the universe. The only problem with her is that she needs to be saved all the time.
Eddie Redmayne (left) hams it up for the camera as the petulant space warlord Balem Abraxas | Photo: Golden Village Pictures
Tatum’s human-wolf-alien hybrid is the typical go-to hero. His is a slyly pleasing performance, displaying the usual leading-man gravitas to finally save the day.
On the other hand, cast adrift into space is the talented Redmayne, last seen playing Stephen Hawking in 'The Theory of Everything'. As the devious Balem, he looks particularly listless and unintelligible, his voice reduced to a whisper.
‘Jupiter Ascending’ is an exciting theme-park ride that keep you strapped in with its jaw-dropping space scenes, heart-stopping action and some laughs.
Let’s just hope the Wachowkis keep this momentum up.
‘Jupiter Ascending’ opens 5 February 2015