FILM REVIEW: Popular cast just can’t stop this film’s descent

Jupiter Ascending ANL-151002-102455001
Jupiter Ascending ANL-151002-102455001

JUPITER ASCENDING (12A)

SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: MILA KUNIS, CHANNING TATUM, EDDIE REDMAYNE, SEAN BEAN, DOUGLAS BOOTH, TUPPENCE MIDDLETON, NIKKI AMUKA-BIRD, MARIA DOYLE KENNEDY, DAVID AJALA, GUGU MBATHA-RAW & JAMES D’ARCY

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 7 MINS

DIRECTOR: THE WACHOWSKIS

The best way to sum-up the latest sci-fi misfire from the makers of The Matrix is that it ‘isn’t as bad as many had feared’.

It was never a good sign when this expensive blockbuster was pulled from its Summer 2014 slot – in fear of ‘bombing’ against the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy – and the producers obviously hoped a February bow with much less fanfare would have increased its box office cume.

Sadly it hasn’t, despite a popular cast that includes hearth-throb Channing Tatum, Ted and Family Guy’s Mila Kunis, the always amiable Sean Bean, and The Theory of Everything’s Golden Globe – and now BAFTA – winning Eddie Redmayne.

But it’s far from awful, particularly inspired by the Wachowskis’ visually stunning universe – which makes great use of the planet Jupiter, especially in 3D – and a few nice action set-pieces.

The elaborate story isn’t quite as messy as expected, but its confusing and perplexing plot stream will still leave some scratching their heads due to its unnecessary trademark Wachowskis curveball ‘wackiness’.

Ascending tells the tale of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a Chicago-based Russian immigrant with a bog-standard toilet-cleaning job, who just happens to have the same genetic DNA as the universe’s ruling Abrasax family in the outer reaches of the cosmos – which in a nutshell means she’s in line to own ‘Earth’.

But head-sibling Balem, played by Redmayne’s softly-spooken but darkly-brooding villain, wants her out of the picture, and has sent his minions to take her out.

Enter Tatum’s genetically-engineered ex-military hunter Caine – spliced together from human and wolf DNA – to protect her from danger.

And for the most part this just about remains watchable throughout – without ever offering anything new – but the cast (bar the stand-out Redmayne) never look like they’re doing anything more than going through the motions, and this fantasy action-adventure never gets close to igniting.

There’s a few nice ideas thrown into this kind of The Fifth Element-esque world, but the special effects alone can’t save this from being a wasted opportunity that ends up being surprisingly uninspirational fare.

Sadly Jupiter descends more than it ascends.

By Gavin Miller: Rating: 2/5