The origins of Jupiter Ascending did not inspire hope in the hearts of viewers, with the original trailers of Channing Tatum in guy-liner of dubious quality, and the release date pushed back from the summer to February to give them more time to amp up the visual effects.
Still, it came from the collective minds of the Wachowskis, directors of The Matrix, and it may be a chance to see Tatum give another of his surprisingly stellar performances.
The extra production time certainly benefitted the film in that it is visually stunning; the colourful and intricate inter-galactic battles and spaceships really are all beautifully crafted. Not so well crafted, however, as the costumes of Mila Kunis, which seem to hold the whole film together. While everyone else remains in their humble attire, Kunis disappears in every scene to change into yet another spangled sci-fi suit so we can admire just how versatile her look is. Every now and then she falls off a building to be rescued by a pointy-eared Tatum in moon boots, but aside from that the plot seems to fade into the background in favour of the costume department and the bizarre budding romance between Tatum and Kunis. The chat-up lines they exchange include “my bowels are anything but royal” and “I like dogs”.
It’s difficult to remember the storyline, but the general gist is that the human Jupiter (Kunis) discovers she is in fact the reincarnation of an alien queen of the universe and is subsequently pursued by said queen’s three children, played by Tuppence Middleton, Douglas Booth and Eddie Redmayne. The latter two siblings are equally hilarious, Booth as a lothario in skinny jeans who is at one point shown floating in an orgy bubble of alien-fairy creatures, while Redmayne as the villain appears every so often to whisper his evil instructions and bug out his eyes whenever he needs to be particularly emphatic.
Tatum is Cain Wise, a genetically engineered wolf-human hybrid employed by one of the siblings to escort Kunis to them, but when he realises the danger these aliens pose to her, he becomes her guard and saviour, and they make a darn cute pair.
There is also a backstory of how planets’ populations are harvested by these alien overlords to create liquid that gives eternal youth, but that doesn’t seem so important in the overall convoluted mass of the film.
The visuals deserve praise, however I struggle to think of much else that does.
We may allow Jupiter Ascending to fade into the background, retaining space for the Wachowskis to maybe one day produce a film of the same quality as The Matrix, and reclaim our respect.