Friday, 6 February 2015

Review: Jupiter Ascending

World of Blackout Film Review

Jupiter Ascending (3D) Poster

Jupiter Ascending (3D)
Cert: 12A / 127 mins / Dir. Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski / Trailer
WoB Rating: 2/7

Oh, it's all very well saying that Jupiter Ascending is "from the creators of The Matrix trilogy". So, if you remember, was two thirds of The Matrix trilogy*1.

So February knocks on the door of 2015's party bearing the gift of a galaxy-spanning sci-fi film written and directed by the Wachowskis, and it's a pretty piss-poor fairytale where The Princess is also The Adventurer, and still needs rescuing every twenty minutes. Mila Kunis looks bored, Channin Tatum looks confused, Eddie Redmayne looks embarrassed and Sean Bean looks thoroughly unrepentant at turning up and playing himself. Again.

It's not that the film is forgivable 'dumb-and-fun', but more that it's two hours of incoherent and unwanted exposition joined together by things exploding. Jupiter Ascending is trying so hard to establish an ongoing, pan-galactic mythos that it's forgotten it needs to be a good movie first.

The ethos of style-over-substance is undoubtable (unsurprising, even), but that style is patchworked together more from the very worst sci-fi/fantasy movies you've seen, and less from the best. It's like some horrible, horrible Comic Relief crossover between The Matrix, John Carter and Cinderella. The Wachowskis also have the fucking audacity to riff on Terminator and Back To The Future, too.

No matter how impressive the visuals get (they're very Shiny™ and far too busy, but well implemented), you can't shake the feeling that you're being told a story by someone who only watched their first sci-fi film the day before, and felt obliged to have a crack at it themselves. Because you know you're in trouble when Channing Tatum's been awarded the mantle of delivering bursts of exposition every half an hour (ably assisted by Sean Bean of course, who's always on hand to make a bad thing worse. "What? Oh, don't worry about the accent Sean. Hmm? No, we're not going to ADR it, but the rest of the film makes so little sense that your Yorkshire-Space-Warrior won't even be on the audience's list. They'll be far too busy raising their eyebrows at people with bits of tin-foil stuck on their faces, that we're saying are The Aliens, trust me.")

Even the out-of-the-blue script reference to 27b/6 lands with the grace and subtelty of a Wilhelm Scream in an empty room (there is no Wilhelm Scream, btw).

I suspect that the film's coda, mirroring its opening act, is indicative of the central theme about acceptance of the cyclical futility of endeavour. Although I also think this because Jupiter Ascending brings us the very worst performance from Eddie Redmayne (channeling his best Lord Voldemort) a mere month after his best, like a sort of Alpha and Omega of cinematic acting.

A sci-fi actioner so indelibly stupid that it makes Highlander 2 look like Looper, re-inventing The Matrix never seemed so desperate...

The worst part? A group of marauding alien assassins in single-pilot attack vehicles chased a man in hover-boots through the sky, blowing up a Chicago skyscraper in the process, and I was bored. Bored.

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
Is it bollocks.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Rent it if you must, but you'll begrudge spending the money.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Not for the actors, not for the directors, not for the composer. I'm sure there was a tea-boy on the crew who probably peaked here, though.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Not even close.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard (although with the in-auditorium volume set to BASTARD-LOUD, I could well have missed one).

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Jupiter Ascending has an appearance from Terry Gilliam, who of course wrote and directed Time Bandits featuring everyone's favourite Astromech droid, Kenny Baker.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…
The film's visuals and Michael Giacchino's score save it from bottom marks, but only by a CGI'd hair's breadth.

*1 That was a cheap joke, for which I apologise. I am one of around twelve people in the world who actually enjoys all three Matrix films. Still thought it was a joke worth saying, though ;)

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.


  1. Oh, but there were other Star Wars references -- practically the entire wardrobe came out of the Prequel Trilogy costume department! With any lacks made up by raiding the Chronicles of Riddick storage unit.

  2. It’s clear the Wachowskis are really passionate about their work. It just sucks in general whenever a film bombs. But unlike a film like ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’, ‘Jersey Boys’, or ‘Warrior’, there’s not much about this 2015 equivalent of ‘Attack of the Clones’ that I can defend.