Queen of the Universe

Jupiter Ascending

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Director: Andy & Lana Wachovski

Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sean Bean, Tuppence Middleton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, James D’Arcy, Tim Pigott-Smith

Creators of the marvellous Matrix trilogy and the super confusing reincarnation fantasy Cloud Atlas, The Wachowski’s have returned to their Sci-Fi roots in the deeply ambitious yet slightly far-fetched cinematic offering Jupiter Ascending.

Despite the fabulous visuals and assembling a cast of all the latest hot young stars for Jupiter Ascending including Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher) and Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables), the narrative is so crammed with infinite details paying homage to David Lynch’s film Dune as well as Robocop, Star Wars and Signs that it suffers from the weight of its own ambition.

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Jupiter Ascending focuses on a Russian immigrant to America aptly named Jupiter who is first introduced as a charlady cleaning toilets in Chicago and the next minute is being rescued from insidious almost invisible aliens by a hunky skyjacker named Caine Wise, gorgeously played by Channing Tatum who spends most of the film with his shirt off. Wise’s DNA has been spliced with that of a Wolf so he is a Lycantant.

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Jupiter played by the pouty but gorgeous Mila Kunis who soon learns that her DNA is a re-occurrence of a powerful Queen who once headed up a rather enigmatic and powerful space dynasty, known as the Abrasax who destroy planets and suck the lifeblood out of their inhabitants. Charming stuff, not to mention, it is revealed as the story unfolds that humans are only reaching the eve of the genetic revolution.

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The Queen of the Universe who died recently has three rather malevolent offspring the rather camp and wicked Balem, a fabulous turn by Redmayne, his sister Kalique played by Tuppence Middleton who is searching for immortality and the younger brother Titus wonderfully played by Douglas Booth who in a weird Oedipal way wants to marry the reincarnation of his mother, Jupiter Jones so that he can claim his share of the intergalactic inheritance. The wedding sequence between Titus and Jupiter is a production designer’s wet dream, gorgeous, lavish and filled with spectacle.

Naturally chemistry develops between the exotic Lycsantant, Wise and Jupiter Jones who is thrust from her mundane existence of servitude and elevated to the status of a celestial queen who has to wrangle with three devious offspring that are all out to distinguish her existence in various ways. This is like a Space Opera on acid, the visuals are fabulous, the storyline completely illogical, yet Jupiter Ascending is still riveting to watch but is not in the same league of such brilliant Sci-Fi films as Snowpiercer, Star Wars and the Ridley Scott’s classic Blade Runner.

Jupiter Ascending despite the fantastic special effects suffers the fatal premise that if you are going to introduce viewers to such a gorgeous and extra-terrestrial universe, then the heroine should not be cleaning toilets in downtown Chicago. At least in Star Wars, Princess Leia never had to deal with such lowly tasks and her plight remained infinitely more profound under the threat of Darth Vader’s Deathstar.

As a friend who saw the film with me commented so aptly, Jupiter Ascending should have been broken down into three films with more back story written into the narrative so that at least the plight of this Queen of the Universe could take on a more historic turn especially in her dealings with each of the nefarious Abrasax clan.

That said, Jupiter Ascending is fabulous to watch, but could have been edited better and more coherently written so that at least Jupiter’s circular odyssey to space and back would be plausible especially as the film started off so promisingly in Russia with her father gazing at the planet Jupiter from the banks of the Neva river in St Petersburg.

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Watch out for Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) with big ears as Famulus and an underutilized Sean Bean as Stinger Apini last seen in the Game of Thrones series in brief cameos and Maria Doyle Kennedy (The Tudors) as Jupiter’s mother Aleksa. Jupiter Ascending is recommended viewing only for serious sci-fi fans and those that truly want to escape earth in a steam-punk drug fueled fashion…

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