Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Jupiter Ascending

Like the vast majority of you reading this, I'm a huge, huge fan of The Matrix. I didn't see it in the cinema at release, but after catching it on DVD soon after it quickly became one of my favourite movies of all time. The action, the atmosphere, the fighting, the music and, of course, Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith, made for one of the greatest movies of all time. That's a pretty rare thing indeed, but though I've seen The Matrix around 20 times so far, every time it's on TV or my eye catches that old cardboard DVD case I have to watch it. The Matrix spawned two sequels, an anime anthology and various videogames, and though none of them were ever as good as the original masterpiece, I always felt the great creative force of The Wachowskis behind them. The Wachowskis went on to make other movies too, with my favourite being 2012's Cloud Atlas, a movie that told multiple stories over the course of a few thousand years. So with a great appreciation for The Wachowskis already with me since I first saw The Matrix, I went into Jupiter Ascending seeking greatness. I didn't find greatness- not by a long shot- but I still had a great time.

Directed by The Wachowskis and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Jupiter Ascending, a movie that's so over-the-top it's great. The plot to Jupiter Ascending is something you'll either love or hate, as it's not only really, really out there, but it often gets incredible confusing. Put simply, Earth isn't the only planet populated by intelligent beings. In fact, humans were effectively seeded on Earth, as were other beings on many other planets, for the sole purpose of eventually being harvested by powerful aliens. These aliens allow a world mature and its population to grow until they can harvest it in order to make a kind of youth serum for themselves, and with the leader of House of Abrasax now dead and her children now fighting over her legacy, the next planet on the chopping block is, yes, Earth! DUN DUN DUUUNN! That's where our heroine Jupiter comes in, the Earth girl who doesn't know that she's the rightful heir to the entire galaxy. That is until she's contacted by Caine Wise, a half-human/half-dog hybrid, and after their initial meeting Jupiter slowly begins to unravel the truth behind her veiled past, and her very royal future.

First the good. Like every movie by The Wachowskis so far, at the very, very least Jupiter Ascending is incredible to look at and is full of cool ideas. Right from the outset Jupiter Ascending has a superb, detailed and unique look about it, and it's also completely filled with great concepts. Whether it's Channing Tatum on his hover boots zipping around and kicking ass, the excellent huge lizard dudes that wear jackets and talk, the incredible alien cityscapes, the impeccable score by Michael Giacchino, the lovely flying chase sequence through the city, the invisible small creepy alien guys that attack Sean Bean's farm house, the fact that Sean Bean is HALF F*CKING BEE, the staggeringly lavish costume designs especially in terms of those in House of Abrasax, and finally, those robot dudes in which you can practically see inside their heads, it just all makes for great fun. It throws so much visual brilliance at the screen that it's hard to not be impressed. Even when it gets something wrong, chances are the following scene, character or fight scene just makes you want to forgive it. When I watch an action sci-fi I want to see stuff like this, and though Jupiter Ascending is by no means perfect in any way, with all the action, explosions and cool sci-fi shit in manages to pump out within its 2 hour running time, it's everything I want in a sci-fi blockbuster.

That said, Jupiter Ascending has problems- a lot of problems. For the most part the script is pretty weak, with some of the scenes that are intended to be romantic ending up cheesy and incredibly cringey. Script problems also screw with the pacing too, as characters are constantly jumping from scene to scene, planet to planet, planet to spaceship, spaceship to planet, all in a way that'll just make your head spin. When it comes to a truly great film, it's a problem when the visuals outshine the acting and performances, and in Jupiter Ascending this is most certainly the case. There's scenes of Channing Tatum trying to sexy that end up being hilarious, endless scenes of the Abrasax kids aimlessly chatting over who owns Earth, and far too many scenes of Mila Kunis being saved by Channing Tatum. Simply put, the script is pretty shit, and it came as a real shocker to me because The Wachowskis are far more capable of something better than this.

Overall Jupiter Ascending is a mishmash of both the awesome and the terrible, a frankenstein's monster of half-baked ideas and brilliant ones. However, despite the script really letting the movie down, I got what I wanted from it- great visuals, cool sci-fi gadgets, badass action and aliens galore. It ain't perfect, but hey, I loved it! If a coherent story can take a back-seat to that kind of stuff for you, Jupiter Ascending just might the perfect movie to enjoy while staying in on a Saturday night with a takeaway.

Jupiter Ascending is a brilliant mess and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

Jupiter Ascending at CeX

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