An oft-repeated complaint of modern films is that films have lost the originality instead relying solely on C.G.I. to tell countless derivative sequels, or reboots, with the best performers recycled repetitively. But what if there was a film that went all-in on the same C.G.I. but for an entirely new property designed exclusively for the cinema? In 2015, audiences got a taste of just that, in the tale of Jupiter Ascending.
Destined for great things but stuck in a cleaner’s job, Jupiter Jones still has her late father’s fascination with the stars. One momentous day she is abducted and revealed to be the heir of an interstellar empire, one that pillages innocents to restock their youth and wealth. Jupiter will get involved in a power struggle involving old dynasties, and the utilisation of natural resources. Now Jupiter must not only fight for her place in the universe but the fate of humanity and the planet earth itself.
I was under the impression going in that this film was already based on an existing property but was pleasantly surprised to see that Jupiter Ascending is an original idea, designed exclusively for the big screen. The story is rich and vivid, relying on nearby yet exotic worlds, rich in unique geometries and lavish textures, relying on their imaginations allows the duo to fully tailor a novel experience. The Wachowskis references to their influences is charming. I particularly liked the call out to the bureaucracy of Brazil (complete with a cameo by Terry Gilliam). Highlighting once again that this is a passion project for The Wachowskis.
Jupiter Ascending is visually striking, allowing the C.G.I. and inventive world-building to complement the high-octane action. This commitment is felt in the ambitious character design, combined with the casting. Mila Kunis makes a compelling lead, capturing a relatable protagonist adapting to her extraordinary predicament. She is joined by the likes of Sean Bean and Channing Tatum as these half-human half-creature super-soldiers, former comrades in arms, but they have some bad blood between them. Making for delightfully pantomimic villains, the award-winning Eddie Redmayne is delightfully showy performance. Though the film’s strengths are not just filmic, Michael Giacchino returns with a score is also fitting for an action-adventure of this scale.
As it stands, Jupiter Ascending is a bold and refreshingly original entry in a long line of modern cinematic blockbusters. While a fully-fledged experience, it feels like an action-packed introduction to a fascinating universe of characters and concepts just asking for future instalments and spin-offs. Visually impressive, and full of fun and action, Jupiter Jones has earned her name in the stars after all.
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