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'Jupiter Ascending' Displays Wachowksi Siblings' Success, Weakness

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

"The Matrix" was brought to you in 1999 by a sibling filmmaking duo, the Wachowskis. Their late the sci-fi flick has a blockbuster cast, and film critic Kenneth Turan has a review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: The secret of the Wachowskis' success, as well as their lamentable weaknesses, are both on display in "Jupiter Ascending." They've discovered a kind of cinematic fountain of youth that keeps them eternally 14 years old, an age the Hollywood studio system finds endlessly seductive. The core idea of "Jupiter Ascending" is sound, if a little preposterous. Mila Kunis plays an impoverished Chicago house cleaner named Jupiter Jones, a specialist at scrubbing toilets - in 3-D no less - who finds out from an emissary, played by Sean Bean, that she's the intergalactic heir to unimaginable wealth and power.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JUPITER ASCENDING")

MILA KUNIS: (As Jupiter Jones) Why is this happening to me?

SEAN BEAN: (As Stinger Apini) You are royalty, Your Majesty.

KUNIS: (As Jupiter Jones) You are in for a surprise when you find out what I do for a living.

BEAN: (As Stinger Apini) Well, it's not what you do. It's what you are.

TURAN: Meanwhile, on another planet far, far away, the members of the Abrasax clan function as the owners of the universe. They're making plans to divide up their holdings, which include planet Earth, with only Jupiter Jones in their way. They want her found, and they want her dead. Enter former intergalactic soldier Caine Wise, played by Channing Tatum. Part wolf but mostly human, he is charged with protecting her, which gets emotionally complicated.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JUPITER ASCENDING")

CHANNING TATUM: (As Caine Wise) You are royalty now. I'm a splice. You don't understand what that means, but I have more in common with a dog than I have with you.

KUNIS: (As Jupiter Jones) I love dogs. I've always loved dogs.

TURAN: The Wachowskis have a great visual sense and are fine creators of soaring universes. But their language couldn't be more pedestrian, filled with cliches delivered without a trace of irony. As the plot unravels and the dialogue disintegrates, even Jupiter Jones has to ask, how much weirder can this get? The only honest answer is you have no idea.

GREENE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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