By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Could Jupiter Ascending be any more hyper?

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With a plot that’s literally all over the map of the universe and redundant action sequences that go on forever at maximum volume and breakneck speed, this is a thriller that dares you to stay with it.


(2½ stars out of 4)

(2½ stars out of 4)

It may not exactly be ascending, but it isn’t descending either.  And, like it or not, it’s tough not to admire its moxie.

Jupiter Ascending comes from the Wachowskis, Andy and Lana, who, when they were The Wachowski Brothers, treated moviegoers to (or punished moviegoers with — take your pick) the Matrix trilogy, followed by Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas.

The writer-producer-directors’ latest is a sci-fi-on-steroids fantasy, a romantic thriller set in a future in which life on Earth has been seeded by alien royal families.  Their intention: to harvest evolved living creatures once they ascend to a level of perfection that allows them to live forever.

But when the matriarch of the most powerful alien dynasty dies, her conniving children -– played by Eddie Redmayne, Tuppence Middleton, and Douglas Booth -– fight over their inheritance.

For openers, they all want a little planet called Earth.

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Channing Tatum plays Caine Wise, a genetically engineered alien interplanetary bounty hunter who wears flying boots and has been sent to Earth to rescue a human toilet-scrubbing janitor with a seeming bad-luck streak named Jupiter Jones (played by Mila Kunis), a Russian immigrant in contemporary Chicago who is about to learn that she’s actually one of the royal heirs to an intergalactic empire and that, consequently, Redmayne’s Balem has put a bounty on her head.

Like us, she’s never really sure what’s going on and, yep, she is -– in Matrix parlance -– the “chosen one.”

Breathlessly paced, Jupiter Ascending is over the top about half of the time, with an impenetrable narrative that features fuzzy allegiances and bizarre convolutions and intriguing theories about our existence that pop up more or less arbitrarily.

At the same time, the film is not only unfailingly energetic but visually enthralling much of the time, with interesting ideas we don’t completely comprehend surfacing wherever and whenever the makers are so inclined.

Which is another way of saying that it’s difficult to discount this level of ambitiousness, even if it’s laced with the Wachowskis’ usual self-indulgence and what seems to be very little concern for whether or not things “make sense.”  There is something to be said for an artistic willingness to appear ridiculous.

So we’ll rescue 2½ stars out of 4 for this wackadoodle space opera from the Wachowski siblings.  Jupiter Ascending is stimulating and consternating and exhausting, in about equal measure.


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