Wachowski’s latest film a glitter-covered lead pipe to the senses

I’ve been assaulted.

Feb. 6 of this year, the sibling-directors of The Matrix fame, The Wachowski’s, released their newest film, Jupiter Ascending.

But whereas the first Matrix film that the duo directed was a razor-sharp instrument with cutting edge technology, a simple yet effective storyline with complex and fulfilling characters, Jupiter Ascending attacks the screen with the tact and precision of performing Lasik with a ball pen hammer.

The Wachowski’s have taken a page from director Michael Bay’s How to Direct with Explosions and propelled it to whole new level. I was battered senselessly with tumbling, swinging camera work and noise and fanfare to spare. The explosions were larger-than-life but left me feeling unfulfilled, gross and full of regret — not unlike eating a tub of gummy bears in one sitting.

The film stars Mila Kunis as Jupiter, the titled protagonist, along with Channing Tatum, Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne, who last year played Stephen Hawking in the Oscar Nominated The Theory of EverythingI guess it takes some sort of acting prowess to not laugh at Tatum’s half-man-half-wolf pointy ears and intensely pursed lips

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

To explain Jupiter’s plot, I would have to personally sit down with you and use lots of filler words such as “like” and “um” between sporadic, nonsensical explanations of what I had just experienced. In short, the film’s plot boils down to Cinderella in Space—minus the charm and grace of the actual Cinderella and indulged in a world that perhaps made sense in the Wachowski’s head.

Reportedly, the original script written by Andy and Lana Wachowski, was over 300 pages.

At a run-time of just over two hours, the film managed to crunch a ton of detail into a relatively short time. This was very apparent in the tempo of the film. It revs up quickly with zero warm up, then suddenly hits the breaks with a scene of detail and dialogue that attempts to give the audience the entire back story it needs to survive the rest of the flick.

The film immerses you— holds your head under until you stop kicking — into a world of sci-fi aliens, improbable spaceships and celestial sovereigns who rule the galaxy and inherit planets as snooty bourgeois inherit plots of land. But unlike other space operas out there, Jupiter takes no time to try to establish the universe and instead throws names and titles out like so many young-adult novel-to-movie franchises.

The set design and wardrobe was part Star Wars prequel trilogy, part Lady Gaga music video and the rest a mishmash of gothic-looking machines, reminiscent of Machine City from The Matrix franchise.

Just one of many times Mila Kunis takes a plunge in Jupiter Ascending

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. EntertainmentA less-than-impressive Mila Kunis sachets around vast fields of green screen as computer-generated Tatum kicks butt with anti-gravity boots. In a film where space royalty sign land deeds for planets, and giant lizard men are used as bounty hunters, the hardest thing to buy into was the relationship between Kunis and Tatum. Kunis’ advances on the half-human-half-wolf Caine Wise (Tatum) was borderline creepy. All the while, one-dimensional characters make ham-handed attempts at comedy that fall flat.

Was there a silver lining to the film? Er… the wonderful moment the credits rolled? Redmayne was brilliantly creepy, yet underused? SPOILER ALERT, Sean Beans makes it to the end?

Really, there is no escape pod from this busted mother ship of a film. It is messy and complicated, yet predictable and boring. The characters slingshot through the film at breakneck speed with every moment of peril written with the same sense of urgency of getting your laundry put away after the dryer has finished.

1 out of 4 Stars (One, only because Bean makes it to the end!)

gbarraza@cjournal.ca