2015 / Director. The Wachowskis.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
What's with all the hate? The reason it took me a few weeks to see JUPITER ASCENDING is because I gave credence to the negativity and general criticisms that have hammered it. Perhaps the bad word-of-mouth helped keep my expectations low and maybe I was determine to make sense of it when so many people had reported it to be incomprehensible. I am fascinated by The Wachowski's as filmmakers. They have autonomy over their films and it's all owed to THE MATRIX. It's incredible that one film can lead to such freedoms within the Hollywood system. Since THE MATRIX they have continued to suffer an unreasonable amount of hate. While their subsequent work hasn't been completely inspiring, all of it has been bold and audacious nonetheless. I was a huge fan of SPEED RACER and wrote highly of CLOUD ATLAS (despite not making much sense of it). And so their latest film is JUPITER ASCENDING, which is a spectacular, high-concept, science fiction, fantasy adventure. It tells the story of a girl named Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who discovers that her life on Earth has a greater purpose beyond the bounds of the solar system. An otherworldly warrior character (Channing Tatum) sweeps into rescue her when a group of aliens attempt to kill her. Suddenly she is whisked away to another planet where the true nature of Earth and the universe, as well as her own destiny, is revealed. The Wachowski's describe the film as a space opera and that's an important detail. The film insists that the audience suspend their disbelief and surrender themselves to the fantasy. To lose yourself to this strange and wonderful world is to be swept up in an epic adventure that plays out like a blending of STAR WARS, ENDER'S GAME and FARSCAPE. In true space opera fashion the story is highly melodramatic, romantic and full of conflict... It feels classic. The film is mostly cast well with Kunis and Tatum holding their own amongst a special FX driven world that otherwise dominates the screen. I did take exception to Eddie Redmayne playing the central antagonist, but that's a personal criticism. I think he is highly overrated and his performance in JUPITER ASCENDING is irritating and contrived. Fortunately his screen time is minimal and I was able to fully immerse myself in the film's wonder. Kick Curry is also an odd addition to the cast and it's obviously due to his history with the Wachowskis. He fails epically at an American accent. But again, he's a small player in a bigger story. Considering that the entire film is shot against green screen with fully digital composites and landscapes, I can also overlook the few instances of atrocious chromakey. They stick out like a sore thumb, however the bulk of the film is well conceived and wonderfully executed. I had a tonne of fun with this one and recommend it to anyone willing to give themselves over to the fantasy.