In terms of directing style, the Wachowski duo share almost nothing similar with the “Heat” director Michael Mann but this time around, both of them finally have one thing in common – they’ve lost their magic and failed at their latest attempts to direct a blockbuster movie. First, we have Michael Mann who brought us “Blackhat“, a visionary piece about the “black hat” hackers. When we say “visionary”, we mean the film does emphasise on how the world was interconnected through the network. The movie was Mann’s most extensive and most ambitious project to date but unfortunately, the forced romantic plot and dull action scenes have made this movie unbearable to watch.
The same goes to “Jupiter Ascending”, the latest space opera movie that was directed by the Wachowski duo based on the original screenplay co-written by themselves.
Though unnecessary, the film takes off on a good note with a beautiful yet saddening introduction of Jupiter Jones (played by Mila Kunis), a Russian immigrant who was born under a night sky with signs predicting that she is destined for greater things in life. Jones dreams of that moment to arrive but clearly, it doesn’t happen to her (yet). Instead of sitting around and waiting for that moment to arrive, she works with her widowed mother and aunt as housekeepers. It’s a job that she is reluctant to do but she wakes up every morning motivated by the fact she can earn more money to buy a real telescope and gaze at the stars like her late father.
Somewhere far away in the universe, a powerful alien dynasty called the House of Abrasax have been monitoring planet Earth. Balem (played by Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (played by Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (played by Douglas Booth), the children of the Abrasax’s late queen try to track down a new heir that has the DNA to inherit the thrones. As it turns out, Jones is the genetic Recurrence of their late mother and thus, making her the new heir of the Earth. All three of them wants to own the Earth for their own purposes but they must first eliminate Jones, which is why they decide to send their respective troops of splices or grey aliens to track her down.
When Balem’s minions try to kill Jones in a childbirth clinic, a pointed-eared guardian whisks into the room on his gravity-defying shoes to rescue her. Jones passes out and then wakes up to find herself in a room alone with the same guardian, who calls himself Caine Wise (played by Channing Tatum). He explains to her that he is a genetically engineered interplanetary warrior, which is also a “lycant” crossbred with wolf DNA for military. He tries to explain her queenly status but to no avail. She believes she is a “nobody” until Wise brings him to meet his ex-comrade, Stinger (played by Sean Bean).
Upon her arrival, a giant swarm of bees start to follow her around and here we are wondering, what would Stinger say about this. We’d expect him to say something more intelligent but instead, he says, “Bees are genetically designed to recognise royalty.” To further prove his point, he says, “Bees don’t lie.”
So, if you think Mann’s “Blackhat” has awful dialogues, “Jupiter Ascending” is worse.
Let me quote another phrase from the movie:
Wise: Your majesty, I have more in common with a dog than I have with you.
Jones: I love dogs, I’ve always loved dogs.
Yup, that totally happened. That moment was supposed to be a romantic scene but it was so cringe-worthy that it drew a few chuckles from the audience. Personally, I think the Wachowskis are trying to bring some humour elements through these cheesy dialogues but I was more confused than entertained. There were a few moments that I thought I was supposed to laugh because it’s funny. I only laughed because the dialogues were ridiculously cringe-worthy. Their romantic involvement is already expected but it just didn’t work out in this movie.
Although Stinger, Kalique and Titus were just the supporting characters of the film, they were the ones who literally explained the entire scenario to the confused Jupiter. It turns out that Earth is one of the planets that has been seeded by the families of alien royalty for them to produce a type of youth serum that allows them to live forever. Just as the Earth has entered the “Genetic Age” , Eddie Redmayne’s whispery villain Lord Balem is ready to harvest the planet before Jones takes away his thrones.
Speaking of Lord Balem, we are still in disbelief that he is the same actor who sang for “Les Miserables” and portrayed Steven Hawking in the award-winning film “The Theory of Everything“. He’s a great actor, sure, but maybe not for this role. He was supposed to be intimidating and evil, but all we ever see is this annoying little spoiled brat with whispery voice. I guess the character he is trying to portray is a silent villain who is ready to explode at the most unexpected time. He did it unsuccessfully though.
“Agent Carter” star James D’Arcy has a rather ambiguous role because he is more than just being a fun cameo. I won’t spoil the film for you but I would rather pay to see more of him. Unfortunately, his role only serves as part of the background story for a certain character in the film. His brief cameo does not pose any powerful impact on the audience’s perception of the narrative.
Overall, it was the dramatic soundtrack and the special effects that helped to create the best part of the film. The Wachowskis have once again hired Michael Giacchino to revive the musical magic from their 2008 film “Speed Racer”. So if you need a reason to watch “Jupiter Ascending”, watch it for the incredibly stunning costumes, its slightly flawed special effects, and dramatic soundtrack. The storyline and the dialogues need more room for improvement.
Catch a glimpse of the movie in the trailer below:
“Jupiter Ascending” is slated for release on 5th February 2015 in Malaysia.