“Bees are genetically engineered to recognise royalty.”
Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne star in the Wachowskis’ return to the sci-fi world, following their work on the Matrix series and 2012’s Cloud Atlas. Yet, I doubt they’ve ever made anything as ridiculous as Jupiter Ascending. If “time is the most precious commodity in the universe”, I’ve wasted my time in worse ways. Jupiter Ascending plays out as what happens when the inaudible Redmayne meets the unstoppable horror of Mila Kunis. Redmayne’s Balem is the lead inheritor of the Abrasax Empire, and the only one who can prevent his evil deeds, is Jupiter Jones (Kunis).
When one can hear Balem through his mumbling snarl, he is the best part of the film. His character is preposterously camp and virtually noiseless, but he is really enjoyable to watch, and though his action only made the rest of the cinema giggle, I thought his passion and desperation was portrayed as well as it could have. Mila Kunis, on the other hand, was not as good. Frankly, she was awful. There is little to praise the Ted-star for other than seeming truly attracted to Channing Tatum, and by the reaction of most of the females present, that isn’t very difficult. She is stale, stiff and wooden. There is little emotion in her performance, she never seems too disorientated by her situation and when her life is in ‘danger’, I wasn’t buying it. At one point Channing states that it is often hard for those from underdeveloped planets to hear that they aren’t the only intelligent life in the universe. However, Kunis seems to have forgotten her shock at her half-man half-dog companion by the next scene. Maybe she isn’t given enough to do, or simply she doesn’t act very well, but her performance was lacking.
The film begins slowly with a lot of back-story, threatening to turn into Channing Tatum as a Man-Dog –The Movie. His presence is charismatic enough, but in keeping himself relevant in big budget cinema, he does not show nearly the same acting depth as he did in Foxcatcher. Also, there’s no denying Tatum looks absolutely ridiculous. Yet, the film picks up. Its action and story builds in excitement and becomes a very enjoyable spectacle. Despite the ridiculous amounts of derivation, the action comes in enough quality and quantity to entertain and satisfy. The messy, messy space scenes are fast and frantic, whilst fight scenes are crafted with quality and shot with Matrix-esque attention.
On top of Kunis’ acting, Jupiter Ascending’s enjoyable action is let down by a few weaker elements. Some graphics feel similar to that you’d see on American cable channels, such as the “Beam me up, Scotty” teleporters they used and the rubbish ‘Watchers’. The side talent was also pretty pants, as the Abrasax’s minions either look wrongfully imported from another science-fiction, or simply like people in gimp suits attached with lasers. There is a lot to like in Jupiter Ascending, but there’s also a lot that’s impossible to like. The acting is varied, the action is good, whilst the little details disappoint. Jupiter Ascending is not quite ‘Poopiter Descending’, but neither can it ascend very high. Still, Sean Bean.