They say we are all born with a limited number of thoughts, and the career of the Wachowski siblings is proof.
Considered deep thinkers for the way philosophy met bullet-time photography in the Matrix series, the Wachowskis have done without thought whatsoever in Jupiter Ascending. Crammed with wow-ride sequences you’ve seen before—the climactic battle on the exploding gantry, for instance—the movie comes to rest a lot on the sultry eyelids of Mila Kunis, who is called “Jupiter Jones.” There is some interest in interstellar dogfights and cosmic palaces, furnished in some of the most hysterical taste since the disco-era Flash Gordon, but I found more stimulation in Kunis’ sleepy gaze. Is the left lid fetchingly lazy by a millimeter or two?
Her constant rescuer is the Charming Tater, named “Caine Wise.” This is apparently not a ref to Kung Fu, despite what I’d guessed—it’s supposed to be “Wise Canine.” In a swipe from sci-fi writer Cordwainer Smith, Caine turns out to have some wolf genes in him, indicated by loyalty and Spock ears. Whatever spirit animal dwells in Channing Tatum, wolf isn’t it—neighing might be more on the money, if indeed the DNA wasn’t taken from an Idaho russet.
Tatum can’t seem to generate much warmth for Kunis; he’s supposed to be internally wishing hard that cross-species romance wasn’t against his prime directive. Why he worries, it’s hard to guess; nature’s law has been fractured all over this galaxy. There are spliced critters and androids galore—talking dragon-men, rat-faced bounty hunters and Samuel Barnett’s robot lawyer, who survives the moments of bad sub–Star Trek comedy.
The sky-skating scenes around the skies of Chicago, during a major bombardment from the air—that’s Flash Gordon–ish fun. The rest of the film is embalmed in one space bunker after another as the über-evil Eddie Redmayne does the Richard Harris–style whisper to a scream.
Jupiter Ascending isn’t a bore, but it is a heavy sedative, cudgeling your brains with the awe-hammer. When did “visionary” become synonymous for “dumb”?
‘Jupiter Ascending’ is playing in wide release.