Jupiter Ascending: Matrix descending

Jupiter Ascending  

Call it the curse of The Matrix. Having made a film as dazzlingly original (and as enormously successful) as The Matrix so early in their career, the Wachowski siblings seem fated to be caught up in a time warp that only lets them reprise a ghostly glimmer of their fading cinematic genius. Jupiter Ascending, their latest, is, for all its Star Wars-like swagger, in spirit and at its core, a faint and discordant echo of The Matrix trilogy’s central plotline.

A lowly earthling is awakened to the reality of an alternative universe where the human race is being harvested to sustain a ‘higher’ life-form. And as the Chosen One, she must battle evil forces and prevail — for humanity’s sake.

It’s a formula that’s worked so well before, and perhaps could have yet again. Except that Jupiter Ascending has none of the sizzle that enlivened The Matrix.

In this film, the Wachowskis add so many more tiresome layers to that elemental storyline that they find themselves compelled to ‘explain’ the narrative for extended periods of the film.

And whereas Keanu Reeves as Neo was earnest as the lost boy finding his way through (and making sense of) the Matrix maze, Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones, the toilet-scrubbing Cinderella-esque character, ambles through with the vacuousness of a somnambulist, mouthing god-awfully inane and cringe-worthy lines. (There is a fleeting allusion to her “royal bowels”, I kid you not!)

With its core hollowed out thus, the film relies disproportionately on pyrotechnics to keep up the tempo and to try and dazzle. Some of the incendiary intergalactic battles fought out over the Chicago skyline are thrilling, for sure, but even they pale beyond the point, even in 3D. And the tedium of the overlong climactic sequence is amplified by the fact that for much of the time, you can’t quite make out what’s going on beneath that blur of bullets and laser bolts.

Even the giant flying alien lizard — arguably the most wasteful spending on CGI excess — doesn’t quite get the adrenaline pumping.

Channing Tatum sizzles briefly as the Spock-eared Caine Wise, who reveals to Jupiter the secret of her space heritage, and zooms in to her rescue time and time again.

The forced injection of a romantic interest between the two, however, falls utterly flat, in the palpable absence of anything resembling chemistry. And Eddie Redmayne as the evil Balem Abrasax, plotting to cut Jupiter out of her earthly inheritance, demonstrates that in the same year that he essayed an Oscar-nomination-worthy performance (in The Theory of Everything), he can also play a ridiculous, unimpressive space villain.In the end, Jupiter Ascending is a colossal crash-bang of a movie. The high notes that the Wachowskis hit with The Matrix now look like a cosmic flare that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 8:37:59 PM |

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