Film review It’s usually not a good sign when a film’s release gets repeatedly delayed, as happened with the Wachowski siblings newest sci-fi extravaganza Jupiter Ascending. Knowing this, I tempered my expectations. But even my preparation to view what I expected to be a cheesy, largely nonsensical movie in the vein of the third Matrix instalment couldn’t prepare me for such a poor film.
I was (un)lucky enough to attend a screening at BFI Imax, to ensure that I could fully appreciate the horror that was unfolding on screen. A train wreck is the only expression that comes to mind to describe this bizarre space opera – I kept remembering that line from Jurassic Park that Richard Attenborough spouts as things go further and further downhill – “Spared no expense”.
The money that’s clearly been splashed on this film is well-spent in that it's a beautifully shot vision of space and the 3D element isn’t overdone. That’s the best that can be said, because the plot, characters and script are literally laughable – as in, people in the cinema were laughing incredulously at how bad it is.
The stand-out bad acting award goes – incredibly – to Eddie Redmayne as the villain Balem Abrasax. He plays it like a bad caricature of Gary Oldman’s villain in The Fifth Element, with all the hammy theatrics and none of Oldman’s sense of irony and playfulness.
He spends most of the film doing a weird slow whisper-voice to show how evil he is, occasionally bursting into high-pitched screaming when his minions aren’t responding to “Get them!” fast enough. It’s hard to believe that Redmayne is up for a well-deserved Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. And it’s unfortunate that the nominations for the Golden Raspberry Awards have already been made – otherwise it could have been one of those fun years when the same actor wins both an Oscar and a Razzie.
The rest of the cast aren’t much better. It seemed like Channing Tatum was being paid by the word, going by how little he was actually allowed to say. The poor guy seemed to be contractually obliged to stand around and glower while other people literally explained his lone wolf character Caine Wise to the heroine Jupiter (Mila Kunis).
Apparently, this description was enough to set her heart beating, though, as she fell for the guy after the exchange of about ten words, eliciting more incredulous laughter from the audience.
Other than the horribly played romance, Kunis probably got the best deal since her character is supposed to be pretty sceptical about everything. Although it did rather seem like Mila Kunis was sceptical of the actual film and plot, rather than Jupiter being sceptical of her circumstances.
I’m not going to bother going into the details of the paper-thin plot because it really doesn’t matter. You’ll only want to see this film to appreciate for yourself just how bad it is, or possibly because you’d like to see Kunis in a variety of flattering outfits.
Otherwise – spare yourself the pain. ®
Director/Writer Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Cast Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, Mila Kunis, Tuppence Middleton, Eddie Redmayne, Channing Tatum
Release date 6 February (UK/US)
More info Movie website