I made a promise to myself after seeing Cloud Atlas that I would go to the theater for any Wachowski film ever released. I am, after all, a huge The Matrix fan and I even think highly of their Speed Racer iteration. Cloud Atlas put them over the top, though. I felt it a masterful interpretation of the novel, and they balanced character with spectacle very well.
Of course, I couldn’t keep my promise to myself when Jupiter Ascending released. If you know me that will come as no surprise. I finally watched it on DVD last night, and, well … I may have to rethink my stance on the Wachowskis.
No one can argue the beauty of Jupiter Ascending. I dare any of you to find fault with its special effects, costumes, or general cinematography. Unfortunately, there is little else to appreciate about the film. Despite having solid actors and even a destined Oscar winner in Eddie Redmayne and a bona fide movie star in Channing Tatum, the acting faltered. Of course, it’s difficult to entirely blame the actors, for their dialogue proved atrocious. Sadly, the general plot also failed to make any sort of sense at all.
I love the idea of having Mila Kunis star as the title character. I love the whole idea of building a franchise around a woman. Unfortunately, Jupiter Jones spent most of her movie either asking questions to help clarify plot points for the audience or being rescued by Caine Wise. Kunis’ character, though powerful according to the plot, never evolved beyond the typical damsel in distress. Tatum played Caine Wise, a hybrid human/wolf/bird/thing. I don’t know—I never quite caught on to that whole deal. I don’t ask much from Channing. He’s a great action star and can be a very good actor if dealing with the right material (Foxcatcher). I just couldn’t care about Caine—maybe it was the English accent that would come and go throughout the movie. Even poor Eddie Redmaye couldn’t find his mojo with this one. For some reason, Eddie didn’t speak above a raspy whisper during the movie. This became very distracting as well.
I credit the Wachowskis for going big. This is a big movie. And they didn’t shy away from making things look very, very good. At one point Caine is jet boot roller-skating through the Chicago skyline, and it looks seamlessly real. No more Agent Smith hurly burly fight fiascos. Furthermore, the space ships were breathtakingly original and the dog fights were exhilarating.
But then the movie became too big. We weren’t given the opportunity to bond with any of the characters because so, so much happened all the time, most of it nonsensical. They attempted a love story, but honestly, Mila and Channing had no chemistry and I cringed at those scenes. Before too long, the Wachowskis clearly lost track of their own story and that, along with stiff, unnatural dialogue, killed the film.
It pains me to say this, but you should pass on Jupiter Ascending. I’m not giving up on the Wachowskis, though. They’ve had far more hits with me than misses, and I’m sure they’re next endeavor will strike a chord.