JUPITER ASCENDING: Starring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne. Directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski. Rated M (Violence and science fiction themes). 127 minutes.
By Joseph McAleer
HEAVENLY bodies – human and alien – collide in spectacular fashion in “Jupiter Ascending”, a 3D science-fiction romp through the cosmos.
Written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski, creators of The Matrix trilogy, the film is an action-packed, mythology-laden mash-up of several classic fantasy films, most notably “The Wizard of Oz”.
Instead of Dorothy Gale, we have Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who leaves her drab Chicago home for a grand galactic adventure, guided by a handsome alien, Caine (Channing Tatum), a human-wolf hybrid with pointy ears.
Jupiter finds herself not in Oz but on distant worlds controlled by the royal House of Abrasax.
Following the death of the matriarch, three children vie for control of the entire universe.
The ruthless elder son Balem (Eddie Redmayne) conspires against his sister Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) and playboy brother Titus (Douglas Booth).
In this profoundly non-biblical account, Earth was seeded by the Abrasax eons ago.
It now serves as a source of raw material for a magical elixir which keeps the aliens eternally young.
In other words, humans are being harvested for food, a la “Soylent Green”.
“Life is an act of consumption,” cackles Balem.
So where does our heroine fit in?
Jupiter, although born of human parents, is somehow the heir to the entire shebang, thanks to some reincarnation mumbo-jumbo.
We discover this early on when Caine’s buddy, an astute beekeeper aptly named Stinger (Sean Bean), sees thousands of bees swarm around the young woman.
“Bees are genetically disposed to recognise royalty,” Stinger notes. “Bees never lie.”
So Jupiter is swept away by Caine and becomes a pawn in the Abrasax power struggle.
This damsel in distress has two goals: save Earth, and return home to her family in Kansas – er – Chicago.
If this all sounds confusing, and more than a little silly, it is, and much of the film is unintentionally hilarious.
The Wachowskis may have strong opinions about industrial might, the abuse of power, and the plight of the individual, but these all get lost in the ether.
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.