Ho. Lee. Sh*t. I had heard that the latest cinema outing by the Wachowski siblings was a disaster, but I was hoping for at least something like the lesser Terry Gilliam movies. Those where everything rambles and the script threatens to come apart at the seams, but somehow it’s still charming and entertaining, despite being flawed. Jupiter Ascending is not that. Jupiter Ascending is an overwhelming amount of sometimes great, sometimes so-so special effects in service of a horrendous script, with hilariously flat dialogue. And even when the script throws up a line that isn’t intrinsically cringe-worthy, there is about a 50% chance that the delivery by the actors will be headscratchingly off.
The entire cast is not at their best in this, but then they aren’t given much to work with. While most of them just flatline, recent Oscar-winner (!) Eddie Redmayne stands out in a performance bound to live on in infamy. Generally he mumbles in an odd voice – the whole cast is unusually soft-spoken – but occasionally he takes quick, surprising detours into high-pitched hysterics.
The plot involves house-cleaner Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) finding out that she is actually the ‘recurrence’ – genetic duplicate – of outer space royalty. Because of this, it turns out that she has – in fact – inherited the Earth. She certainly seems meek enough for that, what with all the cleaning of toilets. However, her duplicate genes also make her a target for assassination and manipulation by an intergalactic dysfunctional family. It’s the kind of family in which no one bats an eye at a son for trying to marry someone who is basically his mother. But then Mila Kunis plays the kind of woman who doesn’t mind that Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), the guy she is falling for, is some kind of human-wolf crossbreed, because ‘she really likes dogs’. Romantically, natch. The ways of the heart are strange indeed in this universe.
As the plot rambles on from one crisis to the next and Jupiter keeps falling off things so that Caine can keep catching her in mid-air with his fancy flying boots, you can’t help but keep checking the time. Are we done yet? The film never succeeds at drawing you in and making you care. It seems completely tone-deaf about what makes characters relatable. As Jupiter and Caine apparently fall in love in front of our very eyes, all we actually see is a lof of scenes of them running around and then a few scattered scenes of them in a room, where Jupiter whittles down Caine’s hesitation by bluntly stating that she fancies him. (You know, because dogs.)
Though the movie features a lot of interesting, intricate intergalactic design, it is wasted on a universe that hasn’t been thought out very well. Citywide destruction can apparently be covered up on a scale that would put the Men in Black to shame. Never mind countless unseen, hard to explain deaths and footage going viral on the internet within minutes. You’ll also see an entire planetbound spacebase going up in flames, because a single small spaceship damaged vital defensive shields by flying into them Kamikaze-style. For no clear reason, the spaceship survives and the spacebase goes boom. Also, in this universe bees can sense outer space royalty and will instantly show reverence. Because queendar.
There may be only one reason to bear witness to the spectacular wreck that is Jupiter Ascending, and that is to see Sean Bean play a rare role in which he *spoiler alert* does NOT die. But you do get the feeling that him and all the other actors were slowly dying inside all throughout filming, wondering why they had been so quick to sign on. Just as well that the Wachowski’s have been fast to somewhat redeem themselves with television series Sense8. It gives them something to focus on while they and everyone else tries to forget that Jupiter Ascending ever happened. Because sheesh.