Jupiter Ascending (Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski, 2015)
Nothing could have prepared me for what The Wachowskis (Andy and Lana) had in store for us this time around. After spellbinding audiences with The Matrix back in 1999, letting them down with the sequels, and then reclaiming some respect with Cloud Atlas (depending on who you talk to – I enjoyed it, but mainly because of the make-up), they have hit rock bottom with Jupiter Ascending. Five minutes in and I contemplated getting my money back (something I’ve never done) because it was clear from the get-go that this was going to be a monstrosity. If I hadn’t just seen Fifty Shades of Grey a few days earlier, this would have been the worst movie I’ve seen in years.
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) hates her life. Her astrophysicist father is killed before she is born, and she spends her young adult days cleaning toilets with her mother in Chicago as part of the family business. To earn some extra cash to buy a telescope she has her eye on, Jupiter decides to sell her eggs under an alias. Shit gets crazy when some aliens turn up, and she is whisked away by a genetically-engineered Channing Tatum only to discover that she is in fact the queen of Earth. She then spends the rest of the film battling against an alien dynasty who want to buy immortality so that they can continue being insufferable bastards until the end of time. Or something like that, because this film was so badly written and boring that I barely followed what was happening.
There are hints at some interesting ideas, but the plot manages to be both convoluted and completely lacking in depth. The screenplay was reportedly 600 pages which might give you some idea of what went wrong (as far as I’m aware that’s about five times longer than usual). From the start the dialogue is clunky, laboured, and downright laughable. And there is a ridiculous joke involving a sanitary pad because periods = LOLs! (I’ll admit that even I sniggered at that.) You could commend the Wachowskis for writing a female lead, except for the fact that she keeps needing to be saved by a man. It’s one step forward, two steps back.
It’s hard to believe the A-list actors involved read this script before signing up to do it. Mila Kunis is at least able to make bad writing sound natural, whereas Channing Tatum doesn’t quite overcome the mediocrity of the screenplay. To think he went from Foxcatcher to this absolute joke of a film is perplexing. Eddie Redmayne is almost unbearable in the antagonist role where he tries to channel Voldemort, and the quality of his performance couldn’t be further from his OSCAR WINNING brilliance in The Theory of Everything. I can only assume the Academy hadn’t watched this when they voted (thank god). But maybe most of the blame can be placed on the writers. At least he wasn’t as painful as Douglas Booth who pretty much sucks in everything he’s in. WHY DOES HE KEEP GETTING CAST? His face is so annoying!
The production design is easily the strongest aspect of the film, and there are some stunning costumes here and there. The visual effects are decent (and assumedly would’ve been much better in 3D) but the action scenes are terribly boring and way too long (one of them was eight minutes – have mercy!)
Ultimately, even if the action sequences had been better, the success of a film rests heavily on its screenplay and this one is a stinker. The Wachowskis have over-reached yet again as a result of having too many ideas for the one film. It’s time they calm the hell down before they self-destruct.