There aren’t many films from the past 15 years that bowled me over the way The Matrix did.
Unfortunately, the Wachowskis — Andy and Lana — haven’t come close since then. The Matrix sequels proved that not every successful movie deserves to be a trilogy. Speed Racer was an outright disaster and, while I liked Cloud Atlas, that’s a distinctly minority opinion.
But Jupiter Ascending gives cause for hope for these ambitious and imaginative filmmakers. While far from the classic that The Matrix was, it’s a propulsive, adventurous sci-fi fantasy thriller that has scale and mass. If there are laughable moments, there are also scenes that will have you gripping your armrests in tension.
The Wachoskis have blended elements of several iconic tales, everything from Star Wars to The Terminator to The Matrix itself. The plot essentially has to do with a group of wealthy extraterrestrials from another galaxy, the Abrasax family (named, apparently, after a dyslexic’s reading of a Santana album title). Three siblings survive the recently murdered matriarch — and they’re squabbling over who gets what.
The key issue is ownership of Earth which, it seems, was “seeded” with humans by this family eons ago. The owner of Earth gets to harvest its inhabitants: i.e., cook them down to their essence, which is consumed by the Abrasax spawn in order to live for millennia. Plural.