Jupiter Ascending: Film Review

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My expectations were seriously low from the beginning as the trailer didn’t excite me and recent reviews haven’t exactly been glowing. I agree with the majority that this is absolutely mental and weird but if you let yourself drop the cynicism, you will find yourself seriously enjoying it.

Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones, a cleaner who wishes there was more to her humdrum life. One day she is rescued from an alien attack by the half-man half-wolf ‘splice’ named Caine (Channing Tatum). It turns out she is the reincarnation of the leader of the mighty Abrasax family and her presence could ruin her children’s plans for the universe. Her main heir and eldest child Balem (Eddie Redmayne) wants Jupiter killed so he can harvest the Earth, while the others Titus (Douglas Booth) and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) have their own agendas.

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I have to applaud the Wachowski siblings for creating this original, nuts sci-fi on such an epic scale. That rarely happens in Hollywood anymore. There are times though when this simply verges on too weird and you have to laugh – and it unclear if this was intentional or not. I regularly chuckled at Caine’s anti-gravity boots, which make him look like he’s rollerblading everywhere, Eddie’s evil villain speeches and random outbursts of yelling and the odd characters they invented. There is sharp humour peppered into the script but they are nowhere near as funny as Eddie’s hammy performance, which is so at odds with his current awards season praise.

Redmayne plays the archetype villain and is almost a caricature. His tortured look, appearance and odd, whispered speech (he barely moves his lips!) makes it hard to take him seriously until the climax, when it works very well. But again, perhaps we aren’t supposed to take it seriously? Maybe the Wachowskis wanted us to have some old school fun without thinking too much?

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The epic CGI landscapes were breathtaking and the imagination for the planets, characters and inventions were impressive. I didn’t love the CGI action sequences too much. They were simply too fast and it was impossible to compute what was happening that quickly, so I zoned out. Supersonic action in IMAX 3D makes the eyes ache.

The corny script and the ‘love story’ are what really let the film down (besides Eddie). There are some real howlers in here. The dialogue felt clichéd and forced and Mila got lumped with a lot of the cringey lines. This poor characterisation prevented me from sympathising or caring about anyone. Tatum looked bored, while Mila is just a damsel in distress that needs Caine to rescue her all the time.

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This leads me to ‘the love story’ between Jupiter and Caine, which is (according to the synopsis) the true heart of the movie but for me, it didn’t work at all. Their romance was not natural or believable and it came out of nowhere. I didn’t want them to be together and I just hated all the lines Mila was given in an attempt to make their romance work. It felt tacked-on, as if the Wachowskis made a last ditch effort to give the sci-fi some heart.

Yes, I found many, many faults with it but I still can’t deny how much fun I had. The bonkers stuff makes you think ‘what the fuck?!’ in a positive way rather than putting you off. You have to embrace the crazy and run with it. You will come out pleasantly surprised by how much you enjoyed it.

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