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Review: Jupiter Ascending

Ros Hull

Jupiter Jones was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine Wise, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along.” imdb

Wow. Just Wow.

I had so much fun watching this film. It really transported me to another world for a couple of hours. It’s colourful, it’s character filled, it’s in space and the pace is the speed of light. It is not part of a series so it didn’t take any commitment. And I’ll say it again – it’s fun.

Richard Wilkins loved to first action sequence, which is just mindblowing, but said the story was confusing and he was completely lost by halfway through. So I was a little cautious and did not have high expectations as it began – but as the final credits rolled and I returned to our world I wondering when the confusion was going to start?

Ok, I know that the Wachowskis’ movies (Matrix trilogy, Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas) are not everyone’s taste. In fact I think they may be quite mad to take on the projects that they do. I also know they are derivative, harvesting the look and feel of their movies from whatever source suits them – here it is Studio Gigli’s steampunk, Flash Gordon (the one with the Queen soundtrack) and the Dune saga.

However, unlike Alice, I do wish to be amongst mad people when they can create worlds like these filmmakers do. When they know what they want to do with a shot and simply invent the device needed to do it. This is the team that gave the world the much copied ‘bullet time’ in The Matrix and this time have created Panocam. These same mad people have learnt to respect their audience too. The Architect explaining the matrix is one of the worst scenes on celluloid – but in this film they just get on with the action.

And oh, what action. That first sequence (in Chicago) is breathtaking but there were more to come, each one choreographed seamlessly, each one with impossible stunts and some without even a token human involved.

But, yes, if you haven’t read or watched much sci-fi or fantasy you may get a little lost.

If you are comfortable with other worlds and other realities this will be so enjoyable because the directors and writers don’t stop to explain dynasties that own planets or how a lifesaving space suit generates itself, they just get on with the story. It isn’t impenetrable though because everything has to be at least introduced for Jupiter’s benefit but she is a quick study. For example:

Jupiter Jones: Are those flying boots?

Caine Wise: They harness the force of gravity, redirecting it into differential equation slips so you can surf.

Jupiter Jones: Yeah, I heard “gravity” and “surf”.

Caine Wise: Up is hard, Down is easy.

Jupiter Jones: Thank you, wow! 

The cast is such a treat. Mila Kunis (love her) is very good, Eddie Redmayne is deliciously megalomaniacal and Sean Bean is a treat – dour but still a treat. Douglas Booth is there for the millennials but I could not look past Channing Tatum (yum). I agree with Jupiter, the pointy ears and canine-y brows and beard worked for me. Plus he is relentless and relentlessly heroic, barely standing still for the whole film.

And for anyone who remembers Looking For Alibrandi – look out for Kick Gurry as Jupiter’s cousin.

The production design is wa-ay over the top. But in a good way. Just ask yourself – if you were 14,000 years old would you travel in a pared down, practical spaceship – or would yours have a Gothic cathedral or perhaps a Victorian conservatory? Loved it. Light reflecting floors? Loved it. Dragon guards in bikie leather? Loved it. A.I. crew with their mechanics showing? Loved that too. The costumes owe equal amounts to the Borgias and Ming the Merciless, with a side order of Battlestar Galactica (the new one of course) but all are undeniably fabulous.

The ending is a better one than I thought it would be, although it may not be the ending everyone wants.

All in all – a very enjoyable night at the flicks.

Ros Hull

Ros saw Star Wars and immediately wanted to fly the Millenium Falcon. Unable to do that she became a Jill-of-all-trades as her army husband whirled her around the world – and back to Canberra 10 years ago. She has worked in public programs and museum education ever since. She gained an MA in writing whilst getting two daughters through high school - both are now at university and undeniably fabulous (according to her). She can worry as an Olympic sport so she sees lots of movies instead. More about the Author

  • Michelle B

    Saw this last night, really enjoyed it. Thanks for the review, I might have missed this otherwise, and I think it was worth watching on the big screen for all the visual effects 🙂

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