Directors: The Wachowskis
Cast: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth and Sean Bean
Running Time: 127 minutes
Release Date: February 6th
You probably remember seeing trailers for Jupiter Ascending last summer. Sandwiched in between the familiarities of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Kaijus pummelling seven shades out of each other was this unrecognisably odd movie where Channing Tatum looked a little like Mr. Tumnus’ older, steroid inhaling brother. Weeks before release it was pushed back to February, a time of year that is essentially a studio admittance that life would’ve been better if its content deeply offended a volatile, nuclear-powered nation, giving them an excuse to can it. But here it is, and it’s quite a bit of fun.
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a cleaner but also the recurrent of an intergalactic royal whose three petulant children squabble over their inheritances, one of which is the grand prize, earth. After an assassination attempt on her, she meets Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a genetically modified splice, who shares both wolf and human attributes. He tells her she is the heir apparent to the planet earth and sets about helping her reclaim it before its inhabitants can be harvested for a youth serum in an age where time is the most valuable currency.
If that sounds a little bonkers and a lot to swallow, it’s because it is. But that’s kind of the joy. Tentpole blockbusters tend to come with established mythologies, familiar faces and reference points. Jupiter Ascending‘s greatest weapon is not having the foggiest where it’s going. It swings wildly from highly entertaining to incredibly bemusing — anyone for drawn out interplanetary bureaucracy comedy? — and is constantly like a roller coaster falling off the tracks.
It certainly has its flaws but all involved seem up for its cosmic brand of high camp. And none more so than Tatum, who plays it straight as a man can when he’s part albino wolf and air rollerblading around shirtless. Mila Kunis performance is much like her character, she just goes with it and seems to embrace the cosmic nonsense as it formulates around her. Sean Bean, a splice who is part bee, sells dialogue about how bee’s special trait is their loyalty and ability to detect royalty. As the eldest of the infighting Abrasax family, Eddie Redmayne goes to another dimension of scene-chomping, occupied before only by Gary Oldman in Dracula.
It never quite hits its marks but there’s a lot of ambition and enough to keep you interested; from zero-gravity bacchanalia, alien dogfights over Chicago and impressively realised worlds. It just doesn’t quite stick the landing. Its ascension is memorable, but its descent is just as forgettable.