Jupiter Ascending

Director:  The Wachowskis

There’s little that makes sense and less that’s interesting in this mega budget mess from the sci-fi siblings who many moons ago made the magnificent The Matrix.

There’s majestically designed spaceships, gadgetry and costumes but that counts for little due to flat characters, terrible plotting, woeful dialogue, incoherent action scenes and a vacuum of a performance by Mila Kunis in the title role.

Impoverished illegal immigrant Jupiter Jones (Kunis) and her squabbling comedy Russian family clean the houses of the wealthy Chicago elite.

Her cousin Vladie (Kick Gurry) – the scamp – persuades her to sell her eggs to a fertility clinic so he can buy a really big TV and she a telescope. But as she lies on the operating table she’s attacked by space imps.

Fortunately she’s rescued by a gun-toting former space legionnaire. Hunky man-wolf Cain Wise (Channing Tatum) is temping as a bounty hunter for interstellar bad guy Titus (Douglas Booth) – a member of the powerful cosmic dynasty, the House of Abrasax.

Cain and Jupiter find fellow ex-legionnaire Stinger (Sean Bean) beekeeping in a country shack. It’s these bees that identify her as a queen and she takes it in her sullen stride.

Stinger and Cain beat each other up for a bit until Stinger’s daughter is sarcastic at them. Then she’s forgotten about and there’s another kidnap attempt.

It turns out Jupiter is the reincarnation of a queen who bequeathed to herself her most prized possession – the planet Earth.

Meanwhile Titus is competing against his siblings Balem (Eddie Redmayne) and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) to control Jupiter and her inheritance.

This trio of fine Brit actors deliver their lines with as much camp energy as they can muster – possibly out of frustration at the quality of the script.

Earth is the richest supply of raw product for the lucrative market in human genetic material, used to keep everyone in space forever young.

Jupiter Jones is a dull, gullible, joyless soul, blithely accepting of her promotion to queen of the galaxy and owner of Earth.

Alien worlds, space travel and terrifying creatures with murderous intent are all greeted with the same doe-eyed indolence.

Formalities dictate she has to truck on down to the dole office to get her stamp before she is formally recognised in her new position.

Desperate stabs at humour are provided by queues of simpering lawyers and corrupt bureaucrats, all performed with embarrassing grotesque campery which are not funny as presumably intended.

Terry Gilliam appears in cameo and must be appalled at the multi-millions of dollars squandered when he can barely scrape together pennies for his own far superior work.

This is a universe which has nudity and space orgies but no sexual energy. Kunis and Tatum share zero chemistry but she falls for him anyway, without hesitation, conviction or reason.

Tatum enjoyed a fantastic 2014 with wonderful, wildly different performances in 22 Jump Street and Foxcatcher. But here he’s lumbered with dodgy tattoos and scar tissue in a generic action role where he spends most of his time sternly whizzing about on flying space boots.

Cinematographer John Troll chooses to drown cosmic cityscapes in a honey glow which is thematically sound but wearing after a couple of hours. There’s nothing groundbreaking among the visual effects to wow us the way bullet-time did back in the day.

The orchestral score of Michael Giacchino tries manfully to suggest excitement but to no avail.

There’s battles, betrayals, kidnappings and then another battle; each more confusing, longer and repetitive than the last. Then there’s another kidnap attempt but despite how busy it all is, there’s little fun or excitement.

Not since The Phantom Menace have shenanigans in the inter-galactic stock-market seemed so dull.

☆☆

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