The Wachowskis’ are back, with a sweeping space drama that makes up for in visuals and ambition, what it lacks in good story telling, characters and pacing, inevitably the film will get compared to the directors career highlight – The Matrix but it’s a bit pointless. While I do love The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded, Jupiter Ascending is something entirely different, a distinctly space faring drama centred on Jupiter Jones, a normal person who is actually a descendant of a royal family and heir to Earth.
It’s not all doom and gloom though as she’s protected by genetically modified warrior (part canine, part man) Caine played by Channing Tatum, working for an organisation that opposes the evil galactic industry that goes on.
To sum up the story, space dwelling bad guys that want to rejuvenate their lifespans indefinitely want to get her out of the picture and take power over the earth, harvesting its’ inhabitants to add to said lifespans, the antagonists in the film are hardly menacing or intimidating. Though harvesting a planets creatures and resources and sucking it dry is a bit evil, I suppose, the big bad in the film is Balem Abrasax played by Eddie Redmayne, an odd looking, soft talking but sort of chilling evil emperor, a villain you’d be a bit more creeped out of than scared of in all honesty.
Also while the story did make sense and wasn’t necessarily convoluted, it just wasn’t really interesting, Jupiter is sort of along for the ride and never really does that much, though the action sequences are quite cool, albeit a bit short. The mythology and history behind the premise film was more interesting to me than the actual film itself, how this industry of expanding lifespans came about, past wars fought over planets maybe and what not, in my mind I can imagine storylines more interesting that could have been presented.
And while there are twists and turns and a moment where things do look to be going wrong, it’s all a bit predictable and you can see exactly where the film is going but that being said, things the film does well – scope, it’s an earth – space straddling film and it’s cool to see the space stations, space ships and space flying scenes. (Allow me to geek out here a bit) I also quite liked the design of the weapons used in the film by villain and hero alike, as well as the space craft and the rather cool energy hover boards and energy shields used in the film especially by Caine, reminded me of the Omni-tools from Mass Effect.
And back to what Jupiter Ascending didn’t do well, pacing, the film felt too short to me to be honest, it felt like a generic blockbuster and something completely un-Wachowski, they’re more than used to long, meandering stories and making interesting narratives with them but you just don’t get that with this film. That and characters, while there are maybe 2 or 3 that are memorable or interesting enough, excluding Jupiter herself, there just wasn’t much character development in the film in general, while basic CGI villains and a host of bland side characters didn’t help much either.
Jupiter Ascending is a great looking film and big in scope, it’s ambition is sadly let down by poor execution, dull characters and a yearning for a good, interesting story that’s just not quite there.
. Dull, poorly told narrative
. Lack of menacing, intimidating villains
. Good cast but poor array of characters