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'Jupiter Ascending' review: Totally bonkers space-opera

Channing Tatum as Caine in Warner Bros. Pictures'

Channing Tatum as Caine in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Picture's "Jupiter Ascending," an original science fiction epic adventure from Lana and Andy Wachowski. In theaters on February 6, 2015. Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

A cosmic Cinderella who cleans houses in Chicago is restored to her intergalactic throne by a genetically engineered half-wolf in "Jupiter Ascending," a totally bonkers space-opera written and directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski. The creators of the alt-reality "Matrix" trilogy and 2012's multi-epoch "Cloud Atlas" have always let their imaginations run wild, but here they're working on a whole new level. Detached from all logic, blind to 50 years of science-fiction cliches and brimming with only bad ideas, "Jupiter Ascending" is what happens when creative freedom slides into lunacy.

Our heroine is Jupiter Jones (played by a deadpan Mila Kunis), a youngish housecleaner living with her tacky Russian family, half of whom might as well be Yakov Smirnoff. Jupiter tries to sell her eggs to buy a telescope on eBay -- surely one of cinema's most surreal plot points -- but the clinic turns out to be staffed by aliens. To the rescue is Caine Wise, a "lycanton" played by Channing Tatum in wolfish eyebrows and a goatee. Speedskating through the sky on his hover boots, Caine whisks Jupiter to the palace of the Abrasax family, a bunch of otherworldly nobles with British accents and names like Titus (Douglas Booth) and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton).

"Jupiter Ascending" smashes together the narrative particles of everything from "Richard III" to "Soylent Green" with a cinematic style that could be called High Thor. Sean Bean plays a grizzled old space vet named Stinger; an unnamed Asian girl (Doona Bae) wears manga-blue hair and rides a hovercraft; the giant lizard thugs wear distressed leather jackets. A lengthy comedic sequence involving a beaucratic tax agency -- complete with old wooden desks and dusty filing cabinets -- is followed by an incest theme.

The film reaches a feverish peak thanks to Eddie Redmayne, who plays the villain Balem with a hoarse whisper, sensuous eye-rolls and the camp hauteur of Bette Davis (he even waves around a nonexistent cigarette). Eventually, it doesn't seem quite right to call "Jupiter Ascending" a bad movie. It's more like not guilty by reason of insanity.

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