Ever since they dominated the box office with The Matrix the Wachowski’s have had a hit and miss career. They consistently deliver new and unique visual experiences, but haven’t always managed to connect with the audience. Their last film Cloud Atlas was brilliant in some eyes and a mess with others, but with Jupiter Ascending they are looking to create a whole new world but does it deliver the Wachowski’s of old or will it be an invasion that no one cares about?
Jupiter Ascending follows a young woman who was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, she dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning toilets and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does she begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all. Once again the Wachowski’s have created a visually stunning world to look at with a wide expanse of possibilities for both this story and so many more. Sadly what they have here is a good fun popcorn movie with a brilliant piece of sci-fi hidden underneath it. The visuals are amazing to look at and they put a lot of thought into creating these worlds and characters, but never fully realize anything with them beyond that. The first half of the film is a bit of a mess with the audience kind of learning about what is happening at the same time as Mila Kunis’ character, which would be fine, but they thrust you in as though you are joining in on a story you should already know. Thankfully in the second half of the film they have got you caught up just enough to now get into it all, but there is still always something feeling like its missing.
The cast all do a fine job although none of them really have too much to strive for. Kunis does fine with the character and spends the majority of the film trying to figure out what is going on as a more of an origin story for her. Tatum steps into the role great with a visual look of Timberwolf from Legion of Superheroes and comes as no surprise that he nails all of the action perfectly. He doesn’t have a lot of chemistry with anyone else in the film, but that may be by design as his character doesn’t express many emotions. They aren’t always clear with his full abilities which would have helped to make some of his sequences more clear. The real show stealer is Eddie Redmayne who is almost Shatner-esque with his over the top delivery. One moment he is whispering and calm and then randomly just screams. It is one of those deliberate performances that you will either enjoy the bizarre insanity of it all or hate it all the way. As mentioned earlier the visuals are amazing. They have it mixed into the normal world and shift it through to some impressively created new worlds and universes. There is a ton of impressive action sequences that are perfectly executed ranging from space ship air battles, laser shoot outs and hand to hand combat. They use some cool new ideas to make some standard sequences a lot more entertaining. There are a wide variety of alien species here that are pretty cool, including some dragon like creatures that are just awesome.
Somewhere in the world there is more to this film than what ended up on the screen. There are aspects to the story, scene changes and decisions made that are just way off leaving you baffled at times. The 3 siblings that are in the struggle for the main point to the film never really make it all clear to what their intentions are. Eventually Redmayne becomes a bit clearer, but the rest manage to leave a grey area that hurts their whole point. Be on the lookout for a cool little sequence featuring Terry Gilliam, that while doesn’t feel like it belongs in this movie at all, is still fun to watch. The Wachowski’s have crafted a great world with some fun possibilities for future ventures into this world, but remains to be seen if they will ever come to life. In addition to the film, this release includes numerous special features to take you further inside this amazing new world.
Join the uprising when Jupiter Ascending hits Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD on June 2nd.