Film Review by Kam Williams
Humble Housekeeper Turns Earth Heir Apparent in Futuristic Sci-Fi
In 1999, Andy and Lana Wachowski wowed the world with a spectacular mind-bender called The Matrix. But that was ages ago, another millennium, in fact, and their diehard fans have been patiently awaiting the launch of another groundbreaking, sci-fi franchise over the intervening years.
Those prayers might have finally been answered by Jupiter Ascending, a futuristic adventure featuring Mila Kunis in the title role of Jupiter Jones. The film is likely to serve as the first installment in a special f/x-driven series revolving around an apocalyptic showdown over the fate of humanity.
The picture’s point of departure is the city of Chicago, which is where we meet Jupiter, a humble housekeeper born without a country, a home, or a father. She hates her life, between cleaning other people’s toilets and a never-ending string of tough luck, despite an astrological chart marked by Jupiter rising at 23 degrees ascendant which supposedly means she’s a woman of great destiny.
Truth be told, she’s not merely a maid, but has royal blood running through her veins, even if it is of the alien variety. As it turns out, Jupiter’s actually entitled to inherit Earth, and is informed of that good fortune by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a hunky emissary from a distant galaxy.
The epic unfolds like a classic origins tale by introducing a plethora of characters and filling in their back stories. For instance, we learn about a trio of aliens from the same planet as Caine, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Titus (Douglas Booth) and Kalique Abrasax (Tuppence Middleton), each of whom is vying for control of the family food business in the wake of the death of their mother.
That gruesome business involves the seeding of countless planets with life forms for the purpose of consumption. And they are just about ready to harvest humanity, since the Earth is now overflowing with people.
The only thing standing in the way is Jupiter, whose royal genetic signature has established her to be an Abrasax as well as the rightful heir to Earth. For that reason, there’s a price on her head. And her and humanity’s hope for survival rests on the broad shoulders of her proverbial half-albino/half-wolf knight in shining armor, Caine.
Once this creepy Soylent Green (1973) subplot is revealed, the pace of Jupiter Ascending ramps up substantially. For, at that juncture, the film sweeps up Jupiter for a visually-captivating journey which careens around the universe at breakneck speed, while barely pausing to take a breath until finally depositing a very relieved heroine back home where she’s happy to find herself surrounded by familiar faces.
An over-stimulating, intergalactic odyssey evocative of The Wizard of Oz.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, sci-fi action, partial nudity and some suggestive content
Running time: 127 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures