Jupiter Ascending is the Wachowskis’ best film since 1999’s The Matrix. It may be over-stuffed with ideas and have enough plot to fill a trilogy but you can’t fault the spectacle that the siblings have put onscreen.
The story is a simple one, the plot…not so much. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a young woman destined for greater things. She’s the reincarnation of the former ruler of the House of Abrasax. Meanwhile her children (or someone’s children) Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth) all want her for different reasons. Be that to kill her, befriend her or marry her. Along for the ride is Channing Tatum’s Caine Wise, a part-man, part-wolf intergalactic soldier charged with finding Jupiter…or protecting her. Also in the mix is Sean Bean, doing what Sean Bean does best. The whole thing is absolute bonkers – but it’s all good fun.
The Wachowskis take elements from every space opera and cult sci-fi drama you’ve ever known and splice them together like one of their genetically modified characters. Star Wars, Dune, Brazil, The Wizard of Oz, The Fifth Element, Aliens and even the Wachowskis’ own The Matrix are merged together. There’s even a hint of the infamous Canon clunker The Masters Of The Universe to keep serious B-movie connoisseurs enthralled. However the film suffers from the total opposite of what sidelined The Matrix trilogy after just one instalment – there’s just too much plot. I’d love to see Jupiter Ascending arched-out over three movies, but it’s all crammed into a two hour running time and there’s a lot (and I mean a lot) of backstory and exposition thrust upon you along with the sumptuous visuals. This is mind-bending stuff – and not always for the right reasons.
The actors all hit their marks and Tatum and Kunis make for a likeable enough pair of leads, although Eddie Redmayne sounds like he was given a century’s worth of bad news and then kicked in the chest before cameras started rolling. The real glory of Jupiter Ascending goes to the tech bods. Cinematographer John Toll makes the wonderful set design looks fantastic, while Alexander Berner edits the bejeezus out of the whole thing. Michael Giacchino scores Jupiter Ascending like he’s the second coming of John Williams and that’s not a bad thing when you’re involved in this type of space romp.
Expertly made and crammed with everything but the kitchen sink (although I’m sure that’s in there too), Jupiter Ascending is the most satisfying film that the Wachowskis’ have made in almost two decades. I want more… maybe not so much, but I want more.
You need to see Jupiter Ascending on blu-ray – it looks amazing. Extras-wise, you get seven mini-documentaries which cover everything you’d ever want to know about the making of the movie. They’re a little short, but informative.