Film Review – Jupiter Ascending (2015)


If nothing else, you’ve got to admire the Wachowskis’ sense of imagination. A visually striking film, Jupiter Ascending is certainly nothing if not creative. Bold, buoyant and downright bonkers, Jupiter Ascending has the duo reaching for the stars and beyond. The problem is they’ve aimed high and missed their target in fairly spectacular fashion. The finished product is so extravagantly bad, you can almost imagine them throwing panicked glances at each other across the edit suite as they begin to comprehend the enormity of their folly.

Down at heel Russian illegal immigrant Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is eking out a living cleaning toilets in Chicago when she is attacked by alien bounty hunters and rescued by half-man half-wolf GM warrior, Caine Wise (Channing Tatum). As luck would have it, she’s the genetic reincarnation of the head of an intergalactic royal family and owns, yes owns, planet Earth.

Trouble is, her space-faring progeny have designs on the Earth, a planet which was “seeded” with human life millennia ago with the purpose of growing a crop of harvestable people used to create a youth-prolonging serum. Pouting, shouting Lord Balem (Eddie Redmayne) has the planet in his sites and, in the name of ruthless commerce, attempts to eliminate Jupiter in order to obtain the planet.

On the plus side, the expansive world that the Wachowski’s have dreamt up is certainly an eye-opener. A neo-gothic, steampunk mish-mash of a place inhabited by winged dinosaurs and elephant-faced aliens with costumes by Karl Lagerfeld via the Super Mario Bros movie, it looks like the waking nightmare of psychotic, nine-year-old pyromaniac. Sadly the voluminous trippiness of it all can’t disguise the fact that it is utter nonsense.

A rambling, nonsensical jumble of half-explained plotlines, non-existent motivations and barely-considered political themes, watching Jupiter Ascending is like grinding your brains into a fine, colourful powder and shooting it out of a giant brass cannon. It’s like being on LSD at a bad comic book convention.

The performances are, almost to a man, so uniformly woeful that it seems a waste of time to single out anyone for particular punishment. Mila Kunis, supposedly having made contact with an alien species and inherited ownership of the Earth, looks thoroughly miserable throughout and totally devoid of any sense of wonder. Tuppence Middleton and Douglas Booth, both English actors, sound like they’re genuine aliens attempting to imitate the accent. While Eddie Redmayne’s lip-curling villain is so preposterously excessive your instinct is to belt out your own nervous laughter just to cover the sound of his droning. Thank heavens then for the relative subtlety of Sean Bean who, along with Channing Tatum, just about escapes this with his dignity intact.

It looks nice and there are trace elements of some pretty exhilarating creativity, but Jupiter Ascending is caterwauling, maniacal fiasco.

Chris Banks

Genre: Sci-fi, Action Distributor:Warner Bros Pictures Release Date: 6th February 2015(UK) Rating: 12A Director: Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski Cast: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, Doona Bae