Jupiter Ascending
dir-scr Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
prd Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Grant Hill
with Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton, Edward Hogg, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Kick Gurry, Tim Pigott-Smith, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ariyon Bakare, Doona Bae, James D'Arcy, Terry Gilliam
release US/UK 6.Feb.15
15/US Warner 2h07
Jupiter Ascending
Gravity schmavity: Tatum and Kunis

bean redmayne booth
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Jupiter Ascending The premise may feel preposterous, both loopy and derivative, but this whiz-bang sci-fi romp is also an entertaining thrill ride. Eye-popping visuals and an up-for-it cast make sure there's never a dull moment, and a snarky sense of humour keeps us from taking any of it too seriously.

Jupiter (Kunis) is cleaning houses in Chicago with her mother (Kennedy) when she finds herself in the middle of an intergalactic kerfuffle. Rescued by dogged bounty hunter Caine (Tatum), she meets his friend Stinger (Bean) and learns that she's the recurrence of a formidable matriarch whose three children (Redmayne, Booth and Middleton) are tussling over control of the family empire. They're also nervous about Jupiter's existence, which throws their inheritance into question. Next thing she knows Jupiter is zipping back and forth across the universe trying to make sense of it all.

She shouldn't bother, because sense isn't high on the Wachowskis' agenda. At least is seems that they know what's going on, and brief bursts of exposition offer just enough information to keep us interested. There's also plenty of subtext since the universe is being run as a gigantic mega-corporation with little concern for life at the lower echelons. So even if the tentative romance between Jupiter and Caine never quite blossoms, at least it offers some good laughs.

Anchored by a strong, steely turn from Kunis, the earthling cast plays it relatively straight: funny, edgy, oblivious. While the galactic interlopers feel like a camp melange from every sci-fi movie ever made, including outlandish creatures, efficient sidekicks, winged beasts and snivelling advisors. There's even a nutty Brazil-like bureaucratic interlude, complete with the ultimate Terry Gilliam nod. Wacky creatures abound, as do fabulous gadgets. The main things we (and Jupiter) want are a pair of Caine's gravity-defying boots.

As it goes along, the Wachowskis deliberately obscure key plot points, which leaves everything feeling rather ridiculous. But the effects and stunts are so inventive that we don't mind much. Action set-pieces are seriously stunning, and the design work cleverly mixes old-world grandeur with zippy-floaty tech. So even if we never quite get a grip on the plot, it's thoroughly enjoyable to just sit back and hang on through each manic chase sequence, outrageous costume change and contrived moment of movie exhilaration.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 3.Feb.15

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© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall