‘Could this get any weirder?’ Mila Kunis asks at one point in Jupiter Ascending. With bees that recognise royalty, hover shoes that allow the wearer to skate and surf in thin air, and Channing Tatum wearing pointy prosthetic ears; the answer is definitely no Mila, it probably bloody couldn’t.
Jupiter Jones (Kunis) is an ordinary girl from Chicago, born under a night sky with the stars aligned to spell out her destiny for future greatness. Her reality is cleaning toilets; day in, day out like a modern day Cinderella. Out of the stars, flies her very own Prince Charming... or perhaps that should be Prince Channing, with Tatum playing a hunter who has been sent to Earth to find his princess. He’s a genetically engineered ex-military hybrid; part man, part dog with gravity defying boots and a keen sense of smell. His mission is to discover Jupiter who, unbeknownst to her, is actually an intergalactic royal heir and in line to inherit a fortune that could decide the future of every human on Earth.
The Wachowski siblings have never really dealt in small ideas. Their debut Bound feels light years away from this epic space saga which eclipses even The Matrix and Cloud Atlas for the scope of its ambition. However, Jupiter Ascending is not the masterpiece that either The Matrix was, or that Cloud Atlas may one day be hailed as. It is brimming with action, special effects and imagination, but is sadly lacking when it comes to character and real emotion. This is like The Fifth Element on steroids; if you liked Luc Besson’s vision of the galaxy, strap in for more bonkers creatures and OTT villains than you can shake a misplaced Lightsaber at.
Jupiter Ascending has Hogwarts extras, Koopa Troopas from The Super Mario Bros movie, henchman dressed like gimps and plenty more crazy aliens for its down to earth heroine to contend with. It also has Eddie Redmayne on turbo charged uber-villain duties. As one of a trio of royal siblings that are squabbling over what to do about the threat that Jupiter poses to them, he chews the huge and extravagantly designed scenery to pieces. With his creepy features and strained voice, it is a shame when he resorts to moments of SHOUTING to make sure he tips over into pantomime.
Jupiter Ascending is a film filled with chasing and rescuing, but the action scenes go by in a bit of a blur of special effects and repetitiveness. Kunis gets a few chances to show her charm but spends most of the film going from outrageous costume to costume and either clinging to Tatum or chasing Channing (who forgets to put his shirt on for a large section of the film) for a quick kiss. If Jupiter Ascending isn’t numbing with its action, it’s getting bogged down with the likes of Sean Bean delivering pages of exposition. If you just want to know what's in Tatum's genes, you might want to wait for Magic Mike XXL.
Still, if you like big special effects driven space odysseys more like The Fifth Element than Interstellar, then Jupiter Ascending might just be the star you’ve been searching for.
Watch the trailer:
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