Jupiter Ascending

Yes, Cin­ders, you shall rule the planet

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated -

Re­lease Date: 29 June ( down­load OUT NOW!)

2015 | 12 | Blu- ray 3D/ Blu- ray/ DVD/ down­load Di­rec­tors: The Wa­chowskis Cast: Chan­ning Ta­tum, Mila Ku­nis, Sean Bean, Ed­die Red­mayne, Dou­glas Booth, Tup­pence Mid­dle­ton

“Astrology is

bull­shit,” says Jupiter Jones, loo brush in hand, crouch­ing over a toi­let in Jupiter Ascending. That’s as may be, but the film it­self ap­pears to have been born un­der the sign of the tur­key.

It’s a shame, be­cause the in­ten­tions are good. Jupiter Ascending is a cheery at­tempt to pro­duce a good old- fash­ioned sci- fi romp – fast­mov­ing, witty, spec­tac­u­lar, ac­tion­packed. It’s all those things and less.

In the ex­tras, di­rect­ing duo the Wa­chowskis men­tion how one of the big­gest in­flu­ences on their work is The Wiz­ard Of Oz. Never has this been more the case than it is here. Not so much be­cause Chan­ning Ta­tum plays Toto ( well, sort of… bear with us) but be­cause once you lift the veil of awe­some vi­su­als you’re left with dull dis­ap­point­ment. ( To flog this metaphor to death, the film could also do with a brain and a heart... though you could never ac­cuse the Wa­chowskis of lack­ing courage).

Jupiter Ascending is a sci- fi/ fan­tasy smörgås­bord, splic­ing to­gether Cin­derella, Oz and Alice In Won­der­land and giv­ing them a space- based makeover. The Cin­ders/ Dorothy/ Alice here is Jupiter Jones, played with the same perky, spunky, wide- eyed won­der Mila Ku­nis brought to Oz The Great And Pow­er­ful ( co­in­ci­dence? Or a very ex­pen­sive meta- gag?). Jones is the stargaz­ing, toi­let- clean­ing daugh­ter of a Rus­sian im­mi­grant to Amer­ica. No­tably, we only ever see her clean toi­lets in very posh apart­ments, be­cause the last thing the Wa­chowskis want in this film is grim re­al­ity. Hell, even when we first go into space to meet the film’s bad guys on a post- apoc­a­lyp­tic planet, the ashes in the streets glis­ten.

The bad guys are two broth­ers and a sis­ter from the pow­er­ful Abraxas fam­ily, which runs an in­ter­ga­lac­tic busi­ness har­vest­ing plan­ets. They’re also very com­pet­i­tive, and each wants con­trol of Earth, a valu­able planet on the cusp of har­vest­ing. Cur­rently, Balem Abrasax ( Ed­die Red­mayne in stare- and- sim­mer mode) owns it, but his claim could be scup­pered be­cause, would you credit it, their long- dead mother has been reborn on Earth in the form of Jupiter Jones, and the for­ward­think­ing ma­tri­arch be­queathed her­self Earth in her will should she ever reap­pear. So now the race is on be­tween the sib­lings to find Jupiter and ei­ther marry her, kill her or hand her over to the space po­lice, depend­ing on which sib­ling you are.

On Jupiter’s side is Caine Wise ( Chan­ning Ta­tum), a mer­ce­nary who’s been ge­net­i­cally- spliced with a wolf ( see, we told you he was Toto) and Stinger, his old mil­i­tary mate who’s been spliced with a bee ( Sean Bean with a stripy black and yel­low hair­cut). The make- up on these two is quite sub­tle, as they’ve clearly got good agents. Ac­tors fur­ther down the peck­ing or­der look more like crea­tures from The Is­land Of Doc­tor Moreau. ( Bean even seems slightly em­bar­rassed in the Blu- ray ex­tras that he got off rel­a­tively lightly while fel­low thesps suf­fered.)

So it be­comes a mag­i­cal jour­ney into space for Jupiter as she trav­els from Dune world to Harry Pot­ter world, to Brazil world, to Blade Run­ner world ( some of these worlds are ac­tu­ally ships, but you get the idea). Ex­tras from the 1980 Flash Gor­don film pop up ev­ery­where. All credit to the Wa­chowskis – and their de­sign teams – for cre­at­ing so many dif­fer­ent ex­otic cul­tures and lo­ca­tions. The prob­lem is, none of these feel fresh or new; there’s a whiff of generic fa­mil­iar­ity to all of them. It must have seemed like a clever idea to hire Brazil di­rec­tor Terry Gil­liam for a cameo on a bu­reau­cratic world but all it re­ally does is high­light how much of a Brazil rip- off the en­tire se­quence is.

The ac­tion se­quences are ser­vice­able enough but un­in­volv­ing. While the Marvel and The Fast And The Fu­ri­ous fran­chises ef­fort­lessly

Two min­utes in, the ten­sion in the star­ing con­test was reach­ing un­bear­able lev­els.

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