The Wachowski siblings, who directed and wrote this original story which feels more like a comic book adaptation, are best known for their groundbreaking, eye-boggling Matrix trilogy. Years have passed since film nerds first yarped on about “bullet time” and seeing as the Wachowskis’ most recent output, an adaptation of the bestselling novel Cloud Atlas, polarised critics and audiences and didn’t merit a release in New Zealand, one is right to be a little apprehensive about their return to the silver screen.
As feared, Jupiter Ascending is utter nonsense – but nonsense that is beautiful to behold and soundtracked for maximum big screen pleasure, such that you can’t bear it any ill-will.
Jupiter Jones is a young human woman who leads a humdrum life as a cleaner, until one day she finds herself caught up in an interplanetary drama around heirs and inheritances, fighting raptor-like aliens and well-spoken lizards, where the evil planet is peopled by British accents and the hero is played by Channing Tatum. Doe-eyed Mila Kunis glows in every scene, but forgets to look surprised by any of these developments, while Tatum merely behaves like a deranged fawn on gravity-defying rollerskates. It’s a shame, since the boy has range. Far from Jump Street, Tatum startled audiences in the dark and cynical Magic Mike while the recent tour de force of Foxcatcher demonstrated his physical talents could be outclassed by his ability to inhabit the tortured psyche of a has-been Olympic wrestler. While Jupiter Ascending doesn’t demand as much from his acting skills, his role here is that of one-note saviour, the dull and over explanatory script denying him any clever lines or personality.
I’ve said before in this column that Eddie Redmayne (no doubt currently rearranging his mantelpiece for his forthcoming Oscar) is nipping at Benedict Cumberbatch’s heels. In his first evil baddy role, Lord Balem is merely odd, like an unfortunate character in a latterday Star Wars film. The appearance of Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) doesn’t help much.
Nonetheless, the special effects are mostly spectacular and if you switch your brain to autopilot in order to endure the plot, this will be an enjoyable, forgettable two hours spent.