The Wachowski siblings will always be known as the masterminds behind The Matrix series, and with Jupiter Ascending they deliver another ambitious and elaborate science fiction adventure. An intergalactic family saga that takes us that from Chicago to galaxies far, far away, it's quite a peculiar film in that one minute it's exhilarating, the next, ridiculous.
First, credit where credit is due. Incredibly detailed and imaginative art direction, swooping and twirling camera moves and impressive effects make for an extraordinary visual experience.
Where the Wachowskis have gone off the rails is with the lashings of melodrama they've given this battle between three royal siblings trying to outmanoeuvre each other to gain control of Earth. The script is wordy, filled with weighty observations on humanity's disrespect for the planet or silly rifts, such as bees being genetically designed to recognise royalty, but this papers over a narrative that's underwhelming for such imaginative settings.
At the centre of this story is Russian immigrant Jupiter Jones (Kunis), a cleaner who lives with her extended family in Chicago. Turns out, Jones isn't just your average cleaner. Thanks to her genetic profile she's regarded as the reincarnation of the Abrasax family matriarch, a powerful family who run a profitable business "harvesting humans" for an elixir that keeps them young.
Her newly acquired children are a problem, particularly her rather evil and profit-driven eldest son Balem Abrasax (Redmayne), who "owns" Earth and is not impressed at the prospect of the fate of its billions of humans reverting to Jones when she claims her title.
That's if her kids don't kill her first.
Luckily for this Cinderella, a prince arrives in the form of genetically engineered ex-military hunter Caine Wise, played by Channing Tatum. Unfortunately for Mila Kunis, Tatum - in the Luke Skywalker role, and with Sean Bean as his Han Solo - steals the show.
It's not entirely Kunis' fault - the Wachowskis have given us a heroine who fails to impress with her intellect, resourcefulness, or physical ability to "kick butt". She relies on Caine to save her time and time again, and when there's a chance to reflect on being galactic royalty or farming humans, she spends the time trying to seduce Caine.
This makes Jupiter Ascending feel like a daytime soap in space, and the longer it goes on the worse it gets, which is a shame, because no one conjures up mindblowing architectural galactic worlds like the Wachowskis.
Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne
Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Running Time: 127 mins
Rating: M (Violence)
Verdict: Visually stunning but lacklustre narrative lets this sci-fi down.