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Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis star in the Wachowskis’ sci-fi/fantasy mashup JUPITER ASCENDING

JUPITER ASCENDING (Lana and Andy Wachowski, 2015)
Opens Friday, February 6

Lana and Andy Wachowski have followed up their 2012 adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas with the sci-fi mashup Jupiter Ascending, which was initially supposed to be released last summer but instead is hitting theaters on February 6, as Earth is passing between the sun and Jupiter. The stars and planets might not quite be in alignment for the film, which is taking quite a beating from most critics, but it turns out that Jupiter Ascending is actually rather fun, even if it’s not quite as stupid as you want it to be. (Hey, any movie that delves into the “royal bowels” is fine with us.) Essentially, the Wachowskis (the Matrix trilogy, Bound) have taken just about every sci-fi/fantasy film and franchise you can think of — Star Trek, Star Wars, Men in Black, Terminator, Highlander, Lord of the Rings, the X-Men, Superman, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Blade Runner, E.T., The Wizard of Oz, Logan’s Run, Gravity, Wings of Desire, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (and yes, that is Terry Gilliam himself in an homage to Brazil) — put them in a blender, and mixed them together to come up with a space opera about a toilet-scrubbing Cinderella, born Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who is discovered to be the genetic queen of a powerful world that harvests planets. She finds a protector in the splice hunter Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), who seeks additional help from the grizzled Stinger Apini (Sean Bean), as Jupiter’s “children” — the evil and twisted Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne), the handsome playboy Titus (Douglas Booth), and the beautiful and elegant Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) — all want to regain possession of Earth away from the “reccurence.”


JUPITER ASCENDING boasts big-time set design, often in lieu of story

Set in Chicago and the multiverse, Jupiter Ascending likes everything big, preferring special effects and production design to plot credibility as the Wachowskis attempt to tell a King Lear-like story about family and power. There are too many chase scenes that go on too long, and there are only so many dazzling sets you can see before becoming frustrated. Tatum and Kunis actually make for an engaging pair, even if so much of their relationship makes no sense. But there’s a sly grin lurking below it all, from Michael Giacchino’s bombastic score, which references horror films, to John Toll’s overblown cinematography. Oh, did we forget to mention it’s all in 3-D as well? Sure, there’s not a whole lot of originality in this popcorn muncher, but there’s still plenty of silly fun to be enjoyed. The Wachowskis had us at “royal bowels.”

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