By Jove!

Jupiter Ascending: written and directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski; starring Mila Kunis (Jupiter Jones), Channing Tatum (Caine Wise), Sean Bean (Stinger Apini), and Eddie Redmayne (Balem Abrasax) (2015): The Wachowski Brothers serve up a frenetic, boring science-fiction movie that plays out as if Dune had been adapted for Heavy Metal magazine in the 1970’s by someone who had been repeatedly dropped on his head as a child. 

The fight scenes whiz by at such a pace that they’re mostly unfathomable, as are a couple of the ship-to-ship battles. The Wachowskis lift concepts from a long list of better movies, novels, and comic books. They might still be able to produce and direct if they stopped drinking so much espresso, but no one should let them write their own scripts ever again. Ever. Again.

The borrowings often become so odd and mismatched as to become hilarious. A concept lifted from Men in Black bleeds into an entire sequence meant as an homage to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. And in case you miss the fact that this is an homage to Gilliam, here’s Terry Gilliam playing a bureaucrat! Now back to the super-serious space opera, in which it turns out that the Death Star is a factory producing Soylent Green! Hey, is that Hawkman? Are those weapons named after the game Warhammer

The absurdities mount. Does a movie with a character named Jupiter have several scenes set inside the clouds of Jupiter? Did you know that bees are genetically engineered to recognize space royalty? Did you want to know where crop circles come from? Hey, did you know that human life on Earth came from somewhere else? Do you want to see Mila Kunis in a hospital gown and gynecological stirrups while a pitched laser battle goes on all around her? Of course you do! The true reality of life on Earth has been hidden from you: you’re the power source for strange, hidden overlords. Why does that seem so familiar?

Channing Tatum is hilariously miscast as a gruff warrior who seems like the result of the Wachowskis’ fannish desire to see Wolverine ride the Silver Surfer’s flying surfboard. Sean Bean plays the Sean Bean role. Mila Kunis plays Neo, The Chosen One… I mean Jupiter Jones, The Chosen One. Eddie Redmayne plays the evil space nobleman in a way that should probably get his Best Acting Oscar revoked. There are moments of beauty and splendour amongst all the junk, but they’re few and far between. Not recommended.

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