NEVER GETS OUT OF ORBIT

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First came Bound and then there was The Matrix. The Wachowski Brothers had made a splash in modern Hollywood. But then we had The Matrix: Reloaded and Revolutions, two horribly messy sequels which squandered the brilliance of the first film. Speed Racer was a garish love letter to the original material and Cloud Atlas was bloated and self-important. So now we have Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowksi siblings’  latest effort. It was supposed to come out last year but it was pulled from the schedule and put back to this year. Milan Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, a girl seemingly of Russian descent who discovers that her lineage is far more impressive than she first thought and she is part of an intergalactic royal family. She gets embroiled in a war to stop the tyrant in the family from taking control. Jupiter Ascending is intended as a grand sci fi epic with many of tropes that they entail and it is a frustrating film. Channing Tatum plays Caine Wise, the genetically engineered warrior whose role is to protect Jupiter Jones, and he looks the part. Kunis is decent enough but there isn’t really much here to work with anyway. Eddie Redmayne plays tyrant Balem Abrasax while Sean Bean is fellow warrior Stinger Apini. Redmayne makes for a suitably entertaining pantomime villain and Bean does what he always does. But while there are some visually interesting ideas on screen here, the CGI is muddled, making many of the battles hard to follow, the script is awful and the film suffers from the worst excesses of the Wachowskis’ past efforts. Restraint is not a word that comes to mind when watching it and there is just too much of everything thrown at the wall here. Like Star Wars directed by Liberace or The Fifth Element with the brakes taken off, Jupiter Ascending is a cliched, muddled and annoying mess of a film. It is as if the Wachowskis have forgotten how to rein themselves in and perhaps what could have been an intriguing sci fi movie is just another bloated monstrosity…


NO NEED FOR SPEED
The week has been a complete blur because I’ve been working while trying to do more work on the Annual and get ready for Bristol which is now only a week away. Last Sunday I went to a press screening of the Wachowskis’ new film, Speed Racer. To be honest, of all the summer blockbusters, this is one that I was looking forward to the least. Emile Hirsch plays the eponymous Speed, a boy who hero-worships his racing-car driver brother Rex, only to see his brother die in a racing accident. Cut to years later and Speed is now a racer himself and the film follows the machinations of the evil car company tycoon Royalton in his attempts to ensnare Speed and his family into a web of corporate greed and race-fixing. Speed Racer is probably the most garish film I’ve ever seen at the cinema and its Wacky-Races-on-speed production design is enough to give the casual viewer a thumping headache at the end. Speed Racer was never shown over here so unlike, say Battle of The Planets, there is no nostalgia for the Japanese anime series here, and so it could be seen as a strange curio by the UK cinemagoing audience. Of course, if you’re 8 years old, then this film is probably fantastic but it left me wondering what has happened to John Goodman’s career (here as Speed’s dad) and how far the Wachowskis have fallen since the first Matrix. The races are edited so quickly that it’s almost impossible to discern what’s going on and the plot is so corny and stupid that if the visuals don’t appeal, then there’s really nothing left. Emile Hirsch is okay but since he is playing a cartoon character or a video game character, then it’s not like there’s a lot for him to do. In fact Speed Racer looks and feels like a game with the script a late afterthought. Save your money and go and see Iron Man instead, which is a smart, enjoyable genre movie that doesn’t make you nauseous when you leave the cinema…