Monday, February 23, 2015

Jupiter Ascending - unfairly maligned

Jupiter Ascending, the new big-budget sci-fi film by the Wachowski siblings, is currently imploding in a theatre near you. The movie stars Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones, an illegal Russian immigrant working as a maid with her mother and aunt in Chicago when she finds herself the target of an alien hit squad. Coming to her aid is Caine, played by Channing Tatum, a disgraced former soldier who is a hybrid of a human and a wolf-like creature. Jupiter, it turns out, is the genetic reincarnation of the recently-deceased matriarch of a massive interstellar corporation. The discovery of Jupiter's existence threatens to destabilize the delicate balance of power among the children of said matriarch as each seeks to deal with the situation in different ways so as to derive some benefit or simply to eliminate the threat.

The visual effects are dazzling, as befitting the massive budget, and the plot is far better than one usually expects from a popcorn flick. Sadly, some of shock of the big reveal is tempered because of the trailers. One of the scions of Abrasax mentions his intention to "harvest" the earth, betraying some hint of the true evil of this family. Still, when all is revealed, it is pretty chilling.

The acting was a bit uneven. Kunis and Tatum delivered performances worthy of their talents. Eddie Redmayne. who claimed a Best Actor Oscar last night for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, was less inspiring. I don't know whether he was attempting to portray his character, Balem Abrasax, as deranged or merely an evil caricature, but suffice to say, the scenery was thoroughly chewed by the end of the film. Still overall, the film deserves more love than it is getting and seems destined to join John Carter on the junk heap of good sci-fi movies that never found an audience.