Jupiter Ascending (Warner Bros, 2015)
From Warner Bros.
Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis star in “Jupiter Ascending,” an original science fiction action adventure from filmmakers Lana and Andy Wachowski.
Jupiter Jones (Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along—her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
From the streets of Chicago to far flung galaxies whirling through space, “Jupiter Ascending” was written and directed by the Wachowskis. The film was produced by two-time Oscar nominee Grant Hill (“The Tree of Life,” “The Thin Red Line”), together with Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski, continuing a collaboration the three began with “The Matrix” Trilogy. Roberto Malerba and Bruce Berman served as executive producers.
Channing Tatum (“Foxcatcher,” “Magic Mike”) and Mila Kunis (“Oz the Great and Powerful”) lead a starring cast that includes Sean Bean (“The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy), Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), Douglas Booth (“Noah”) and Tuppence Middleton (“The Imitation Game”).
Behind the scenes, “Jupiter Ascending” reunited the Wachowskis with many of their longstanding collaborators, who most recently worked with them on “Cloud Atlas.” They include Oscar-winning director of photography John Toll (“Braveheart,” “Legends of the Fall”); production designer Hugh Bateup; editor Alexander Berner; costume designer Kym Barrett; and makeup and hair designer Jeremy Woodhead. The music was composed by Oscar winner Michael Giacchino (“Up”).
“Jupiter Ascending” showcases the kind of cutting-edge visual effects that have become the benchmarks of the Wachowskis’ films. Dan Glass (“Batman Begins,” “Cloud Atlas”) was the visual effects supervisor, a post he has occupied for the Wachowskis since “The Matrix” Trilogy. Additionally, John Gaeta, the visual effects Oscar winner behind “The Matrix,” contributed to the visual effects design.
“Jupiter Ascending” will be shown in 3D and 2D in select theatres, and in IMAX.®
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, in association with Anarchos Productions, “Jupiter Ascending.” The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
Beyond Earth, beyond our Sun, one of the most powerful dynasties in the universe has ruled for millennia. Now, following the death of its matriarch, her three primary heirs – Balem, Kalique and Titus – are at war, vying for control of the House of Abrasax.
But another heir has emerged whose claim may be even greater than theirs. A young woman, born on Earth, unknowingly carries a genetic legacy that entitles her to a future beyond her imagining and with it the power to alter the fate of her planet.
Pursued and surrounded by enemies, Jupiter Jones is forced to leave her ordinary existence behind and, with the help of an ex-military bounty hunter who becomes her only ally, she confronts her true destiny
Filmmakers Lana and Andy Wachowski once again invite audiences into uncharted territory and fantastic new worlds with “Jupiter Ascending.” Their first original science fiction action adventure since “The Matrix” Trilogy, “Jupiter Ascending” reveals a universe in which the Earth is just one small piece of the vast machinery of galactic commerce—a prize, about to be seized and stripped of its most precious resource: humanity.
“I can’t even remember a time when alien intelligence or the potential inherent in the vastness of space didn’t fascinate us,” says Lana Wachowski. “Who didn’t love Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’? And the movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ had such a profound impact on us. But as storytellers, what got us excited about that potential was answering the question, ‘If someone else is out there, and they know about us, why don’t they want us to know about them?’”
Written, directed and produced by the Wachowskis, “Jupiter Ascending” is conceptually sci-fi but encompasses elements of their other favorite genres. A thriller and an action epic, it is also, at its core, a love story between two people who would never have met if not for one extraordinary event that might only happen once in centuries, if it happens at all: a Recurrence, a human born with a gene pattern that’s an exact duplicate of one that has already existed.
Jupiter Jones is a Recurrence. Her genetic profile has been identified as a match for a woman who, before her mysterious death, controlled one of the most dominant ruling families in the universe. This makes Jupiter, despite her humble upbringing, the beneficiary of unfathomable wealth and the pivotal figure in a monumental power struggle, with the Earth set in its crosshairs.
To the family’s existing heirs, it just makes her a target.
Beginning in present-day Chicago and traversing the cosmos, “Jupiter Ascending” offers a breathtaking panorama, at turns majestic and menacing, as one young woman, plucked from the most ordinary life, comes to terms with a regal identity she never knew, and the risks and responsibilities that come with it—not just for herself but for everyone she loves and every human being on her planet. In the process, she may find not only her true strength and purpose but, possibly, the love of her life.
“It’s so smart and amazing and so much fun,” says Mila Kunis, who stars as the title character, Jupiter Jones, the unwitting genetic heir to a family that, quite literally, rules the world. “There’s a lot of action, and a beautiful love story, and even though it takes places in the most fantastical settings, everything feels so tangible and real. Also, there’s a fair amount of sharp humor, which I love.”
“Lana and Andy Wachowski create from a molecular level to the expanse of the universe,” says Channing Tatum, starring opposite Kunis as Caine Wise, a professional tracker sent to Earth by one of the three Abrasax siblings to capture Jupiter Jones once her gene print and heritage are verified. Caine doesn’t know the reason for his mission, which is immediately complicated by a gang of bounty hunters determined to capture Jupiter themselves, at any cost. “He is trying to figure out why all of this is happening, and has to make a decision whether to protect her or give her up,” Tatum says.
Almost fully human but for a splice of wolf DNA that both enhances his skills and limits his prospects for a normal life, Caine becomes Jupiter’s protector as he comes to understand who she really is and what’s at stake if the people who want her neutralized are successful.
Whether drawing audiences into an aerial firefight between rival alien bounty hunters across Chicago’s night sky, or launching them into the far reaches of space, these are filmmakers who do not hold back. Producer Grant Hill, their producing partner since “The Matrix Reloaded,” knows well, “What excites them is the challenge of it and the immense scale of a film like this, its look and design. The spectacle of it is just magnificent and that was very much the intent: a big, broad spectrum sci-fi movie.
The Wachowskis are known for their innovation and imagination,” Hill further notes, “but it’s not spectacle for its own sake. It always serves the story, and in this case that means traveling through several wholly individual realms, each of which had to be created with its own life forms and technologies, and each with its own ways to transport people through space and wage these momentous battles.”
The filmmakers’ purpose in setting so vast a stage is to frame the revelation to a shaken and incredulous Jupiter that humanity did not originate on Earth, and that her planet is part of a much larger enterprise and social order that dates back more than a billion years. It’s an asset among many, currently owned by the formidable Balem Abrasax, as played by Eddie Redmayne. Though they sprang from the same DNA eons ago, the Abrasax family represents a culture so evolutionarily advanced that they now view the human population on Earth as no more than livestock, a cash crop they can cultivate for their own purposes. And harvest.
As shocking as this is to Jupiter, so is the knowledge that she somehow holds the key to controlling all of it. But in order to accomplish all that lies ahead, Jupiter must sweep aside the doubts and the limitations she has always accepted. She needs to find the courage and the focus to stride forward and claim her birthright despite all the odds against her, and be the person she was clearly meant to be.
“Stories are only as good as their villains,” says Lana. “In this case, we hit upon the idea of a family of villains that were a distorted reflection of Jupiter’s own family. We are all guilty, like the Abrasax and Bolotnikov families, of using or extorting each other. We all have put ourselves before others and have valued status and wealth more than we should. Despite the scale of outer space, it was important that the characters remain human, reflecting the best and worst of us.”
“Jupiter doesn’t have super powers,” says Kunis. “She doesn’t know how to shoot a gun. She’s just an average girl who’s thrown into this environment and has to figure it out.”
“Like a lot of us,” Kunis adds, “Jupiter is one of those people who doesn’t know if she’s worth more or can achieve more, or if there’s even any more to life than what she’s been dealt. She’s been kind of sleepwalking her way through it until someone or something comes along to shake her up. I think many people can relate to that moment in their lives. I certainly can. Sometimes you don’t know which path to take or even what road you’re on until something happens to make you realize there’s more to life than this.”
Says Lana, “We wanted to tell a story of a mad, impossible journey that leads her as far away as anyone could ever go, only to return to her own sense of ‘home,’ and the realization of what is important to her.
“After our decade-long sojourn through ‘The Matrix’ Trilogy,” she continues, “I read The Odyssey over Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. Then we watched ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and I was struck by the similarities of these two stories, especially in their concept of ‘home.’ Home is a center of gravity and one of the ways we understand ourselves. Coming home makes us think about the ways we’ve changed and the ways we’ve stayed the same. That was the light-bulb moment when Andy and I first started thinking about Jupiter Jones as a woman who is unhappy, who feels trapped by the drudgery of her life, and who goes off into space and learns things about herself—like so many people who are unhappy with their lives and who go on journeys in search of what they want or need, only to return with a new perspective and appreciation for where they come from.”
But Jupiter doesn’t make this journey alone. She has Caine. It doesn’t take them long to realize that however strong they are as individuals they are even better working together, and it’s not a small task they are facing. Once they understand the full extent of the Abrasax agenda, it’s not only the fate of the Earth but of countless other planets and lives at stake.
The more Jupiter and Caine are drawn into the circles of power, and the more they learn about the true nature of their existence and the horror of the coming harvest, “Jupiter Ascending” raises some of the questions that have captivated us forever. As Andy Wachowski suggests: “It touches on the idea of who we are and where we fit in the universe; whether we are alone or whether there is life on other planets.”
What if everything you believed about life on Earth was wrong? What if someone else is out there and what part do we truly play in the greater machinery of the cosmos?
Says Tatum, “Lana and Andy created a world that will open your mind to the possibility that we are just a very small grain of sand on an enormous beach.”
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