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Jupiter Ascending: Inter-stellar idiocy

by Mark Burger

In their attempt to create another sci-fi/fantasy mythology – and a profitable film franchise – Matrix masterminds Andy and Lana Wachowski have instead created a mess, one that reportedly cost in the neighborhood of $175 million. Not only can money not buy happiness, in this case it can’t even buy cohesion.

Mila Kunis plays the heroine of our story, Jupiter Jones by name (no kidding), who is actually the reincarnation of an alien monarch. She is whisked away – to a galaxy far, far away – by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum in beefcake mode), a warrior and “lycan” who is part-wolf. Tatum is basically playing an ersatz version of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine character, though his rocket boots are pretty nifty.

Eddie Redmayne, Tuppence Middleton and Douglas Booth play the preening, sneering offspring of the alien monarch, each speaking in a clipped British accent and each desiring Jupiter for their individual, but undoubtedly nefarious, gains. Is the future of the galaxy at stake? Well, sort of “¦ The special effects are the best thing about the film.

Most everything else, however, is severely lacking – including the performances. For all of his scowling and muscular heroics, Tatum seems a bit sheepish here. So too does Sean Bean, as Caine’s comrade-in-arms, whose loyalty becomes tenuous as dictated by the script. Middleton and Booth look faintly bemused, as well they should, while a wheezing Redmayne tries to add a little life but providing a lot of ham.

Whatever meager momentum Jupiter Ascending attempts to achieve is brought to a screeching halt whenever characters begin spouting exposition, of which there is far too much. What’s more – or less – depending on your point of views, is that it doesn’t matter. Interest is simply not generated.

The Wachowski name (and pedigree) may attract some cult followers, but after the critical and financial failure of the sibling duo’s Speed Racer (2008), the disappointing box-office and critically-divided reception of Cloud Atlas (2012) and now this debacle – all of which boasted budgets in excess of $100 million – it may be safe to say that the (big) bucks stop here.

There is, however, one very prescient and relevant line of dialogue: “Time is the single most precious commodity in the entire universe.”

Of which Jupiter Ascending wastes 127 minutes of that commodity “¦ not including trailers and commercials, of course. !

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