The blurb says: “Jupiter Jones was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine Wise, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.”
The verdict: The Wachowskis have managed to weave together a plot made from recycled bits of much loved classic tales (Star Wars, Brazil, Dune), possibly lesser loved, but still hugely famous films (Soylent Green, The Princess Diaries) and elements of fevered cheese dreams. Toilet-cleaning-space-princess, the titular Jupiter, Mila Kunis finds herself being kidnapped by aliens while she is trying to sell her eggs to buy a telescope, only to be rescued by Mr-Tumnus-if he-were-in-Starlight-Express, Channing Tatum. The two then meet Sean Bean’s space bee, undergo lengthy admin processes and spend a lot of time falling through the air and being startled by fire. Meanwhile the Abrasax family are being evil space-Capitalists and wafting around in fabulous costumes and generally consuming the universe, including all having a desire to kill our heroine. It is BONKERS, disjointed, and makes little sense, but I thought it was fabulous.
Mila Kunis is hugely likeable, despite her character’s emotional arc having no basis in reality (‘I’m a space princess? Oh. OK’), holding the whole thing together by the skin of her teeth. Channing Tatum does a sterling job of being the mean and moody bad boy hero, despite the utterly ridiculous styling and the worst form of sci-fi transport ever (space roller blades). He even suffers through several scenes where he is shirtless for no reason with a quiet determination.
Then there is Eddie Redmayne. Oscar nominated Eddie Redmayne, who puts in surely the most ludicrous performance for a villain on screen. By turns camp and whispering, THEN SHOUTING FOR NO REASON, with quivering lips and swirling cape, you have to wonder what possible direction he was given to produce this mess. One can but assume Brian Blessed’s Flash Gordon Hawkman, coupled with Ming the Merciless were key reference points.
Elements of the film are great. The design of the space ships and the environments are fantastic, and show some genuinely innovative thoughts. Kunis manages to bring a sparkle to the clunky dialogue, making lines which could have been cringe-inducing genuinely funny. It seems to wear it’s influences on it’s sleeve, with one of Jupiter’s outfits (spoiler avoided) being a dead ringer for that of Dale Arden in Flash Gordon.
In fact Jupiter Ascending is the spiritual love child of Flash Gordon, and will doubtless find a place in the cult B-movie sci-fi world, and will surely be a Sunday afternoon TV movie favourite of the future.
It will certainly be a future guilty pleasure for me.
4 out of 10 for film-making and any semblance of sense
8 out of 10 for fun