AWFJ Movie of the Week, Feb. 2-8: JUPITER ASCENDING

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jupiterascendingposter160Opening Jan. 30, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Jupiter Ascending, the latest offering from writer-director siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski. For their hotly anticipated new film, the Matrix filmmakers stay loyal to the genre in which they made their name with a future-set sci-fi drama that is shaping up to be one of the cinematic experiences of the year.

The brilliant Mila Kunis stars as titular hero Jupiter Jones who, despite being born under signs that depicted future greatness, has had nothing but bad luck. When Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered hunter, arrives on Earth to find her, Jupiter realizes she does indeed face a great destiny; one that could have a huge effect on the entire cosmos. Read on…

Kunis has proved to be an actress of huge charm and charisma in films like Black Swan and Ted, and it’s great to see her being given such an intriguing lead to get her teeth into. And if that’s not enticing enough, she and Tatum are joined by the wonderful Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who so impressed in costume drama Belle, and Eddie Redmayne, fresh from his award-winning success as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

If that’s not enough to make this a must see, consider that the Wachowski siblings have always been at the forefront of filmmaking spectacle. After breaking new effects ground with The Matrix trilogy, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas they raise the bar again with the methods they’ve employed here. By utilising a Panocam – a six-camera rig – mounted to a helicopter, they have captured 180 degrees of action, which should make the final film edge of the seat stuff. Jupiter Ascending kicks February off in suitably bombastic style.

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panelists Comments:

Sheila Roberts: My recommendation is Jupiter Ascending written, produced and directed by The Wachowskis. The intergalactic action-adventure marks the siblings’ first 3D film and their first original screenplay in the sci-fi genre since The Matrix trilogy.  The film promises to be epic, ambitious, thought-provoking and visually stunning. It features a strong cast and an impressive creative/technical team that includes many longtime Wachowski collaborators.  From The Matrix series to V for Vendetta, Speed Racer, and Cloud Atlas, these visionary filmmakers have always dared to push the boundaries of the medium. For Jupiter Ascending, they used a Panocam, a rig of 6 cameras mounted on a helicopter, to capture 180 degrees of the action in certain scenes. The Panocam swung around the action independently of the helicopter’s actual flight path and the overlapping footage was combined in post. I think this could be an absolutely fascinating film.

Nell Minow: Jupiter Ascending because it is always fascinating — if not always coherent — to enter a world created by the Wachowskis.

MaryAnn Johanson: My pick is Jupiter Ascending, because I’m hoping it’s going to be a science fiction action movie with a complicated female protagonist.

Film Details:

Title: Jupiter Ascending

Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

Release Date: Feb. 6, 2014

Running Time: 127 minutes

Language: English

Shooting Location(s): Chicago, IL; London, England

Principal Cast: Sean Bean, James D’Arcy, Tim Pigott-Smith, Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Doona Bae, Tuppence Middleton

Screenwriter: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

Production Company: Village Roadshow Pictures, Warner Bros.

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Official Website

Trailer

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, MaryAnn Johanson, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Katherine McLaughlin, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Rebecca Murray, Kristy Puchko, Sheila Roberts, Sara Vizcarrando, and Jeanne Wolf.

Other Movies Opening the Week of Feb. 2-6, 2014:

Seventh Son

Jupiter Ascending

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

The Voices

Love, Rosie

Ballet 422

Listen

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Edited by Sandra Kraisirideja, AWFJ.org Associate Editor

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Nikki Baughan

Nikki Baughan is a London-based freelance film critic and features writer. Formerly editor of both Film Review and movieScope magazines, Nikki is currently contributes to various print and online publications, including Screen International, BFI, The List and Film Divider.