When one thinks of writer/directors Lana and Andy Wachowski I can't help but remember sci-fi epics like The Matrix Trilogy and Cloud Atlas, feats of cinema that most definitely left an impression, so when I went to see Jupiter Ascending my expectations were understandably high. Saving my greater opinions for later, you might find is a piece abundant with influences, including Terry Gilliam's Brazil and space opera.
We begin with Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), an illegal Russian immigrant cleaning some elite Chicago toilets all in the pursuit of something better. Life is hard and brass telescopes are pricey so she opts to sell her eggs, which in turn gains the attention of the intergalactic Abrasax dynasty, consisting of siblings Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) and Titus (Douglas Booth) and their band of colourful minions. Then enters Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered soldier who arrives in time to pull Jupiter out of the firing line and reveal that Earth, the universe and Jupiter herself are not what they seem.
As stated my expectations were high, but they gradually lowered as the show went on. Despite the brilliant visuals, ideas and the undertones of Anastasia Romanov being found alive after Rasputin's treachery (most certain that was an influence), Jupiter Ascending is defeated in part by some questionable pacing and three miss-cast leads.
Story is everything for me, and this one started out solid but things started moving too quickly for my liking, robbing the plot of the chance to grow more naturally, so to speak. One is also left in an undesired state of confusion, especially when trying to understand character agendas and their motivations. Obviously this is a big shake of the head.
Additionally, the casting of Tatum, Kunis and Redmayne just didn't work. Whilst I'll admit that Tatum and Kunis had good chemistry, I just didn't think they were the right choices for Caine and Jupiter (several times I asked myself who could've played these roles better), and Redmayne wasn't intimidating anyone as Balem. When I'm getting to know a villain I either want to be afraid or call them a bad-arse and that simply didn't happen. It's this kind of downfall that leaves me feeling more interested in supporting characters (Sean Bean, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Doona Bae just to name a few). These I considered positives, but should that be the case for the creators?
Whilst it will appeal to some, Jupiter Ascending isn't a great film, plot wise. The Wachowskis have stated they like alternating between light and dark storytelling, with this being their light turn, but I think they just need more work in that sector. Dark is territory in which they thrive.
With that said, a positive I'll end on is that the siblings have once again delivered in the VFX department. Every visual is a work of art, from the other worldly architecture to a swarm of loyal bees and especially the ship of party boy Titus which I've heard was a labour of love so hat's off. I didn't for one moment think the directors were hiding behind their pretty pictures.
So, if it's a shoot up in space you're looking for then Jupiter Ascending is a flick I'm happy to recommend. It wasn't a waste of time and the positives are there. I give it 3 out of 5.