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Jupiter Ascending (3D) (AF)


Stars: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Christina Cole, Nicholas A. Newman, Ramon Tikaram, Ariyon Bakare, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Frog Stone, David Ajala, Doona Bae, Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

The Wachowskis (Lana – the only transgender Hollywood filmmaker - and Andrew) serve up an epic as writer-directors, stuffed-to-the-gills and well beyond with plot, action and stunning special effects, a slice of science fiction with enough story to have served for more than just a few episodes of Flash Gordon in the long-ago days when the comic book hero turned up as a weekly serial.

I’ll say it right away – Jupiter Ascending is one of those movies that calls out to be seen more than once. That way there’s a good chance of following the plot which propels heroine Mila Kunis and her protector-romantic interest, played by Channing Tatum with an unfashionable blond goatee and impressively muscled-up figure, into a series of increasingly weird out-of-this- world adventures to save the Universe from a nasty trio of intergalactic villains led by Eddie Redmayne who prey on humankind.

Stir in intergalactic travel on a huge scale, massive battles in space and Kunis facing more perils than Pauline ever dreamed of and you have a frequently barmy one-of-a-kind and sometimes painfully noisy space show that never bores even though much of the time I (and, I suspected) some of the cast had no real understanding of what was going one.

Which is why it’s worth seeing twice. If, that is, you’re desperate to know what takes place in Russia, modern day Chicago, Saturn and elsewhere n the Universe. But not, despite the title, in or on the actual planet og Jupiter.

Russian-conceived but born stateless on a boat, Kunis is Jupiter Jones, who starts off cleaning other people’s homes – including a toilet to underline her sad plight – but ends up as the endangered catalyst who is set to bring down Redmayne and his fellow regal rotters – helped by genetically engineered (he’s part wolf!) former military hunter Tatum who turns up on earth to tracks her down and help her achieve her regal destiny…

Confused? Me too and I was armed with the vital critics’ crib sheet – the press notes which run to 52 pages.

So simply sit back and enjoy the vivid adrenaline-surging action which features flying boots, huge winged dragons of the seriously nasty kind and scads of unpleasant grey Keepers, who uncomfortably reminded me of Harry Potter’s Dobby the House Elf but with bad tempers and not a nice bone among them.

I enjoyed myself a great deal once I had come to terms (and it didn’t take that long) with the fact that it was the rush, not the storyline, that was entertaining me mightily. Indeed, one line, spoken with gusto by Tatum, sums up the essence of the movie – “We’re not getting off this planet without a fight”.

And the frequent and enjoyably assorted battles, achieved with brilliant special effects and vivid 3D filming, are what give the show its undoubted punch. Kunis and Tatum deserve praise for not being overwhelmed by the mad movie magic that surrounds them, while three cheers are due Eddie Redmayne whose turn as the seriously nasty villain of the piece Balem is pure pleasure and lights up the screen whenever he appears.

And I even learned something new – humans are not indigenous to Earth. I hope to learn a lot more the next time I see Jupiter Ascending which, I seriously hope, will be soon.

And, let's face it, how could one not like a movie which features an actor called 'Frog Stone'?

Alan Frank

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour.
127 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 03 Feb 2015