In a bright and colorful future, a young destitute caretaker gets targeted by a ruthless son of a powerful family that live on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.
“The Matrix” is in my top five favorite movies of all-time. I remember going to see it in April of 1999 and I also remember being blown away by the special effects that infiltrated the movie sporadically and did so in such a way that by the time the film was over, it left you salivating for more. The effect known as ‘bullet time,’ allowed a shot to progress in slow-motion while the camera appeared to move through the scene at normal speed and was one of the most parodied and copied effects for years to come but when you witnessed it for the first time in 1999, it was literally groundbreaking.
Naturally, after the film grossed over $460 million worldwide, talk inevitably turned to a sequel at which point the Wachowskis, the directors of the film, said they were already working on two more movies. In 2003, they released Parts 2 (“The Matrix Reloaded”) and 3 (“The Matrix Revolutions”) months apart and while they did well at the box office, they were not as successful as the original and a lot of that was down to the fact that both movies suffered from an overabundance of deep philosophical expository dialog and too many references to mythology, religion and an overabundance of unresolved subplots.
Their follow-ups, “Speed Racer” and “Cloud Atlas,” both bombed at the box office and initially, “[Jupiter Ascending](movie:267863)” was scheduled to be released in the summer of 2014 but when it was announced that it was being pushed back to February of this year, people immediately began to fear the worst, that Warner Bros. knew they had another stinker on their hands and were pushing it off to a time when typically, there wouldn’t be strong competition. Well everyone, rest easy because “Jupiter Ascending” is a return to the Wachowski’s of 1999 and it is thoroughly enjoyable.
It is what a sci-fi movie is meant to be, a good story, spectacular special effects, interesting and likable characters and an overall great time at the movies. Gone is the explanatory conversation that bogged down the last two Matrix movies and while there are some scenes that are filled with scientific jargon that I’m sure makes absolutely no sense in real life, throughout the course of the movie, you understand it, from a movie-going perspective and just sit back and go with it. Channing Tatum makes for a great action hero and Mila Kunis, as the expected damsel in distress, rises to the occasion when needed and more than rivals Tatum in the action department.
Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, the daughter of Aleksa (Maria Doyle Kennedy), a Russian immigrant who lives in Chicago and cleans houses along with her mother and Aunt Nino (Frog Stone). One day, Jupiter is talking with a friend in her house and when she steps out of the room momentarily, she hears a commotion and when she peeks back into the room, there are small aliens who are scanning her friend. As she takes a photo of them with her phone, it unexpectedly rings and they charge her and she passes out. She wakes up later and sees the photo but has no recollection as to how it ended up on her phone.
After making it home, her crazy cousin Vladie (Kick Gurry), talks her into becoming an egg donor for which she will receive $5,000. Needing the money, she reluctantly agrees and while at the hospital, the doctors and nurses in the operating room, try to kill her and that’s when Caine (Channing Tatum) bursts into the room wearing hover boots, giving him the ability to fly around the room and dodge bullets and lasers. He saves her several more times and then proceeds to tell her that her genetic signature makes her royalty and heir to one of the most powerful alien dynasties in the universe, the House of Abrasax.
Three siblings of the dynasty, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) and Titus (Douglas Booth), are at war with each other over who owns Earth but with Jupiter being the reincarnation of their mother, they must kill her first or she will take rightful ownership of the family, including our home planet so they dispatch a legion of mercenaries to end her life. It quickly becomes clear that the purpose for our living, is because this alien family can harvest the planet to produce a type of youth serum that allows them to live forever. Caine and his old friend Stinger (Sean Bean) decide to help Jupiter fight the House of Abrasax.
At its heart, “Jupiter Ascending,” along with its astonishing special effects and exceptional action sequences, is a love story and a damn fine good one. Jupiter has always fallen for the wrong guy but in Caine, she has found a man who won’t just love her until the end of time and take care of her, but of the entire planet too. How many guys do you know like that? “Jupiter Ascending” is a welcome return to what made me fall in love with the Wachowskis in the first place and I hope that their future projects will be just as good as this, if not even better. Highly recommended.
In theaters February 6th
For more info about James visit his website at www.irishfilmcritic.com