Best known for bringing us "The Matrix", the Wachowski's set out to prove that they can do more within the realm of sci-fi with "Jupiter Ascending", an intergalactic tale that is visually stunning, but far too complicated.
Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, an unassuming housekeeper whose life is thrust into danger as she begins to be hunted by an alien race. She carries the same genetic code of a matriarch of a very powerful, galactic, royal family. By all accounts, the Earth belongs to her. The three siblings of the family are at political war with one another over control of the planet. The youngest son, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), sends his minions after Jupiter to regain the planet as he believes it is his right. However, a genetically spliced soldier named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) swoops in (quite literally) to protect Jupiter at all costs.
The Wachowski's struck gold when they directed "The Matrix", a science fiction classic that has become a staple of the genre. Ever since that film, they've had a lot of misses, including "The Matrix" sequels and 2012's "Cloud Atlas". Unfortunately "Jupiter Ascending" is another miss, but they certainly do try.
As with all of their films, the visuals are off the chart. Crisp and beautiful visual effects make this to be an entertaining film for the most part, but the story doesn't quite hold up. On the surface the film looks to be about an intergalactic war that our reluctant hero, Jupiter, is caught in the middle of. But the story is actually about a political struggle over planets. The Wachowski's do make a solid attempt at creating a complex and riveting space opera but the plot becomes far too confusing and none of the characters get fully fleshed out.
Kunis is fine in her role but her character unfortunately becomes the damsel in distress, needing Caine to constantly fly in on his anti gravity boots and rescue her.
Academy Award nominee Eddie Redmayne, chews up the scenery as Balem, our main antagonist. The recently nominated star of "The Theory Of Everything" delivers a truly terrible performance here which is quite fitting as his character is equally as bad.
The real standouts of the film are Channing Tatum and Sean Bean, who play the genetically spliced hunters that protect Jupiter. Caine (Tatum) is spliced with wolf DNA, making his fast and cunning. Stinger (Bean) is spliced with Bee DNA, which....gives him control over Bee's? I'm not quite sure what his genetic advantage was. The two play their parts very well.
"Jupiter Ascending" is an incredibly ambitious film, attempting to combine planetary politics with insane action doesn't quite blend the way one would hope. For the first act of the film, it seems to be going in an interesting direction, the politics taking a back seat, and the adventure taking center stage. But this is quickly shifted and the story begins to descend into a convoluted mess.
The visuals are by far the reason to see this film, if there was one. Beautiful art design mixes perfectly with the fast paced action. The exciting action set pieces are complemented perfectly by Michael Giacchino's sweeping score. The story is really where the film weakens, its far too complex for this supposed franchise's first outing. The romance between Jupiter and Caine feels incredibly forced.
This was a film that had a lot of potential, but only scratched the surface of what it could have been.