A house cleaner is actually space royalty and Channing Tatumn is an interplanetary warrior-wolf man with moon boots. The Wachowskis (Cloud Atlas, The Matrix) bring back the crazy with Jupiter Ascending, a film that I had a heck of a lot of fun with, sometimes at the film’s expensive. Review after the jump.
In as much as you can sum up this film, here is what it is about. Jupiter (Mila Kunis) works with her family cleaning the houses of the rich, seeming to have to clean all of the toilets. Her boring life gets a little interesting when she witnesses some aliens attacking her friend. Soon after, the little grey aliens come after her, but she is saved by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum with a lot of black eyeliner on). Tatum has been hired to fetch her by Titus (Douglas Booth), one of three siblings wrestling for control of the House of Abrasax, the most powerful of all the space dynasties. Why the need to fetch a toilet cleaner? Turns out she is the genetic reincarnation of the departed matriarch of the House of Abrasax, whose will stipulated that Earth be passed to her reincarnation if one should ever be born. There’s also the crazy Balem (Eddie Redmayne), who has a vested economic interest in making sure Jupiter never claims her birthright.
This synopsis only scrapes the edges of what the Wachowskis lay out in this film. There are bees that detect royalty, magic rebuilding of cities, creepy cyborgs, great fortresses that can be bought down with little effort, egg harvesting, an ode to Brazil (the film, not the country), wolf warriors that want their wings back, space baths, the most screen time Sean Bean has ever stayed alive for and a little double dipping in The Matrix. There are side-stories that add nothing to the central story, points that take several minutes to make and are never referenced again in the film, terrible dialogue (that dog line won’t be forgotten soon) and characters that have no purpose. There is all of this and more in this glorious mess of a film and you know, I had a lot of fun with it all.
Boring is not a word you can associate with this film. Messy, crazy, incoherent and overreaching? Maybe. But boring it is not. I was completely swept up in this space operatic, partly because I often had no idea what was happening, so I couldn’t predict where it was going. Isn’t that kind of wonderful? Not being able to see where a film is going rather than ticking off a checklist of plot points in your head. Sure there are aspects taken from other films, but science fiction films are often like that, and I don’t think that it is necessarily a bad thing. It’s what you do with those nuggets of inspiration and how they are integrated into the material that matters. I like that the Wachowskis make such weird and interesting cinema and that they somehow get the money to do so. The low box office numbers in the US are slightly concerning for those of us who want more from them, but I think these oddball thinkers will find a way to keep doing their thing.
Much has been said about Eddie Redmayne’s performance in this film and most of it has been negative. “He shouldn’t get the Oscar anymore” people have said, as if any of the Oscar voters would ever sit through Jupiter Ascending. Well, it is my contention that he is actually one of the best things about this film and is perhaps the only actor (except for one person who has an excellent cameo) who really gets the film. He is the only one who really understands the weirdness and the film’s outlandish, garish vibe and he expresses that through his performance. To quote Tropic Thunder, he went “full retard” and this performance won’t be forgotten, even if you can’t remember what the point of the film was.
Jupiter Ascending is crazy, fun space fluff, like an opera with an intergalactic superhero story and a bag of magic mushrooms.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Writer(s): Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Starring: Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean
Runtime: 127 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: February 19 2015