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Jupiter Ascending - DVD Review

Jupiter Ascending

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

REMEMBER when the Wachowskis were being hailed as the new kings of sci-fi cinema off the back of the success of their original film in The Matrix trilogy? Well, that seems like a long time ago now.

Jupiter Ascending actually continues their decline… a downward spiral that first began with the disappointing Matrix sequels and which seems to have accelerated ever since.

High on ambition but low on quality, Jupiter Ascending offers a visual feast but little else. If anything, it’s symptomatic of way too many Hollywood blockbusters in the way that it only partially harvests an original idea, while remaining content to go for style over substance and borrowing from countless other movies.

Here, the Wachowskis’ own Matrix is ripe for the picking, as is everything from Disney’s Cinderella to Star Wars and just about every superhero movie. Unfortunately, very little here impresses.

The plot, at least, shows some signs of originality but is so muddled, drawn out and ultimately inconsequential that you may quickly tire of trying to work out what’s going on. You certainly won’t care.

For what it’s worth, the action picks up in a future where humans are found to be the seeds of the powerful royal House of Abrasax, an alien dynasty led by the unscrupulous Balem (Eddie Redmayne), who is counting down the days to being able to claim his inheritance.

However, a fly in the ointment comes in the form of Earth-born cleaner Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), an heir to the throne, who subsequently teams up with inter-planetary warrior Caine Wise (Chaning Tatum) to offer some resistance.

As you’d expect from a Wachowski production, the film is marked by some impressive special effects that extend to high concept alien planets, nifty spaceships and high-octane set pieces that, in this case, involve a lot of whizzing around on flying, roller-skate like boots.

But aside from presenting an arresting visual spectacle, at least early on, this merely masks the many shortcomings of the film as a whole, the most damning of which is its failure to connect emotionally.

If anything, Jupiter Ascending too often feels like its going through the motions and none of the characters make an impression. Kunis and Tatum make for a bland leading couple, Redmayne is content to ham it up without ever really stamping his authority as a villain of note, and most other supporting players appear to fleetingly, even though some of their character arcs suggest they should warrant more screen-time. Indeed, the only person who emerges with any real credit is Sean Bean, whose rogue warrior does at least possess the kind of enigmatic presence the rest of the film is lacking.

But even then, the set pieces lack any real ingenuity and, come the final third, descend into a repetitive cycle where Tatum is called upon to continually rescue Kunis using the same techniques.

Given the money that has clearly been thrown at it, and the talent amassed in front of and behind the camera, Jupiter Ascending has to go down as an overwhelming failure. It would seem the Wachowskis have well and truly had their day.

Certificate: 12
Running time: 2hrs 7mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: June 29, 2015