Take elements of story structure from The Matrix, add in the camera work of Speed Racer and the scope of Cloud Atlas and then multiply that all by 100 and you have the latest from the Wachowskis, the epic Jupiter Ascending.
Mila Kunis is the rarest of breeds with the role of Jupiter Jones. She is a leading lady protagonist in a massive science fiction adventure. Channing Tatum’s Caine Wise is a dash of knight in shining armor, but more of an alien/human hybrid out to prove something.
Their two fates will collide in the city of Chicago where Kunis is living with her Russian immigrant relatives working as a cleaning lady. As you can tell from the Jupiter Ascending trailer, Kunis is a princess, and although she does not know it, she affects the fate of everyone not only on Earth, but in the entire universe.
In a plot too complicated to explain further here, Balem (Eddie Redmayne) wants control of Earth and the newly discovered princess on that planet makes that difficult. Caine will swoop in to rescue her as Balem’s assassins are trying their best to kill her. Before long, they’re off to Balem and Caine’s planet (you guessed it, Jupiter) and all our characters will dive into one epic science fiction tale with plenty of pizzazz, zip and stunning eye-popping visuals from the filmmaking siblings who are ever pushing the envelope in that department.
As we said earlier, there are story elements right out of The Matrix. That “you are the one, but you don’t know it, and by the way there’s this entire world that you never knew existed, and yeah, you’re key to that world’s entire future.” It is amplified though. The stakes are much higher and the characters on this Wachowskis' playing field are much more diverse.
It doesn’t necessarily mean it all adds up, makes a whole lot of sense or isn’t convoluted in the slightest. Jupiter Ascending is massive and anything this big is bound to have issues. How anyone on earth doesn’t know about this outer universe battle is a bit sketchy. How a certain character reacts to learning of said world is also a bit unbelievable.
But this is not the movie to dissect for plot points that work together like a physics equation. This is pure popcorn fun and between the action, and the science fiction-ness of it all, the Wachowskis have again blown our minds and done something triumphant. It is an eye-popping stunner and unlike anything they’ve done before from a visual standpoint.
When it comes to the performers in Jupiter Ascending, Kunis and Tatum are great together and each pulls off lines that might have been a challenge to utter so out of context in such a CG environ. Our issue is with Redmayne. He is too over the top and yet simultaneously understated. It’s a frankly bizarre turn from the current Oscar nominee for his out-of-this-world turn in The Theory of Everything.
This Jupiter Ascending review could tear it apart for the multitude of issues this massive epic tale has. We instead choose to look on the bright side. The Wachowskis need to be encouraged by what they have accomplished with their latest.
Considering how many years it has been since their first feature, looking back they haven’t made too many movies. Given that they’ve released two in three years, and each went for potentially unreachable Hail Marys, we have to salute them and let the cinematic siblings know we’ll be first in line for their next piece of escapism art.
Want to see the filmmaking siblings' best work? Watch The Matrix online.