Jupiter Ascending

Visual spectacle with zero chemistry

Jeez, where to start? Looking back, Andy and Lana Wachowski have been dining out for years on their one successful movie. That was The Matrix. The two bloated sequels were crap, as was Speed Racer. And while the source material for Cloud Atlas was worthy, the film bombed at the box office.

You can’t say they’re not ambitious, or that Jupiter isn’t visually spectacular. It’s eye candy of the first magnitude. But this lumbering Dune rip-off fails on every other level. Mila Kunis, a delightful rom-com go-to actress, is way out of her league as the lowly cleaning woman who happens to be the queen of the universe or something, and spends most of her time being kidnapped, rescued, or making goo-goo eyes at a Spock-eared, green-goateed, emotionally inert Channing Tatum. Zero chemistry.

The storyline, which occasionally surfaces between the many, many, many battle scenes, is all but impenetrable. I still don’t know who the bad or good guys were. Or care. What passes for humor is aimed squarely at the multiplex crowd, and the score is overbearing. After this $175-million train wreck, it’s unlikely the Wachowskis will be entrusted with any more big budgets. Maybe they’ll have to resort to storytelling instead. Japanese title: Jupiter. (127 min)