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Jupiter Ascending Review


They've tackled action packed sci-fi with The Matrix, brought Saturday morning cartons to the big screen with the energetic Speed Racer, and teamed with Tom Tywker to explore sprawling existential questions with Cloud Atlas. Now, The Wachowskis let their combined imagination run wild in the realm of space opera with Jupiter Ascending, a gorgeous visual treat, brought down by the siblings much documented trouble with storytelling.

In a galaxy where alien royal families, running the universe like a massive corporation, own entire planets, Russian immigrant Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) finds she shares the same genetic signature with recently deceased matriarch of the House of Abrasax, giving her ownership of the crucially important Earth, after an encounter with the part human, part wolf warrior Caine (Channing Tatum), sent to reveal her royal destiny to her. Discovering there is much more to the universe than anyone ever thought, Jupiter is thrust into the middle of a war of inheritance between the three heirs of the Abrasax Dynasty.

When it comes to visuals and world building, Jupiter Ascending earns The Wachowskis an A. They have built a living, breathing world here, one where the genetic splicing of human and animals is common place and opulent star ships sail across the cosmos. Some of the more out there concepts, such as the origins of a miracle youth serum, may seem eye rollingly bad at first glance, but you can sense that The Wachowskis have extreme confidence in their ideas, and that pulls you through. Unsurprisingly, the visuals are absolutely jaw dropping, from vast, bustling alien metropolises to chaotic space battles that really push The Wachowskis expertise when it comes to CGI. Jupiter Ascending is packed to the gills with rousing set pieces, a mid air battle across the Chicago skyline being an early highlight. But all the CGI explosions and beautiful vistas in the galaxy can't save the movie from leaden plotting and an unnecessarily complicated narrative that threaten to bring proceedings to a screeching halt at any moment.

With all the imagination put into the world of Jupiter Ascending, it's a shame the story it is wrapped around is so generic, revolving around the not at all secret plans Belam (Eddie Redmayne), Titus (Douglas Booth), and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) have for Jupiter. Plot turns can be seen from a mile off, and the story just lurches from one scene to another, with some sloppy editing not helping matters any. It does start off well enough, with all the chess pieces being put in place effectively in the first act, but when it is time for the story to kick into high gear and leave our planet, the cracks start to show almost immediately. The cast do well enough to make the script work, with Kunis likable in the cliched role of a normal, wide eyed human coming to grips with an vast alien world just beyond her planet. A central romance between Jupiter and Caine never gets off the ground, mainly due to Tatum mistaking stoic for bland, never really giving the character any more depth than gruff loner. Sean Bean as Caine's former comrade may as well not have been there, turning up only when the story needs to move on from a corner it has written itself into. Redmayne does liven up any scene he's in as the soft spoken, deliciously evil Belam, deciding the pantomime villain approach is the way to go. It may seem like an odd choice for a movie trying to take itself seriously, but, for me, it worked.

Let down massively by its narrative, proving yet again that the film making siblings really need to work on story, Jupiter Ascending is still a somewhat entertaining visual treat. Just one that won't stay with you for long.

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The Movie Bit: Jupiter Ascending Review
Jupiter Ascending Review
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