December means the last big cinematic offerings of the year (for example, this week’s new release The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), and with them come trailers for the blockbuster helpings that will arrive in the summer thereafter.
We’ve already gotten the first theatrical preview for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – with trailers for 2014 tentpoles Godzilla and Edge of Tomorrow to follow later this week – and now, we can add the first official footage from Jupiter Ascending to the list.
Jupiter Ascending is a new original sci-fi production from Andy and Lana Wachowski – the siblings who broke out by re-appropriating neo-Noir tropes with their 1996 crime/drama Bound. Of course, nowadays the duo are better known for having provided a Philosophy of Religion 101 seminar (by way of a sci-fi/action template) with The Matrix trilogy, then re-envisioning the Speed Racer Japanese cartoon as an equally off-the-walls live-action movie; most recently, they blended storytelling forms associated with different periods in history, with their and Tom Tyker’s divisive literature film adaptation Cloud Atlas.
The Wachowskis’ new film (based on their screenplay) tells the story of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a Ukranian immigrant who spends her days scrubbing toilets in the U.S. One day, she learns that fate has much bigger plans for her, when a genetically-enhanced former military hunter (Channing Tatum) shows up and informs Jupiter that her existence threatens to forever change the balance of power in her world: a time and place where so-called higher-evolved beings - whose genetic makeup contains the best elements of animal DNA – consider themselves superior to the ordinary humans on Earth.
2014 is going to be a year when the sci-fi genre is split up between films which take a more logistically-grounded and factual (read: ‘hard scientific’) approach – like director Wally Pfister’s supercomputer drama Transcendence and Christopher Nolan’s space travel adventure Interstellar – and fare that walks closer to the fine line between sci-fi and fantasy, judging by the early look we’ve gotten at Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy.
Jupiter Ascending looks to be very much the latter type of sci-fi entertainment, with the likes of Tatum looking quite unusual (decked out with a change of hair color and accent) in a film which – judging by the initial footage – gives off a “Star Wars and/or The Last Starfighter-style sci-fi hero’s journey re-envisioned by the Wachowskis” vibe (with some fairy tale influence thrown in for good measure).
Indeed, Wachowski films have a tendency to reflect the influences of the cultural zeitgeist in which they are made (see: the similarities between The Matrix and Dark City released a year earlier), but they’re also envelope-pushers in terms of spectacle and genre trends. If nothing else, Jupiter Ascending seems as though it could be a worthy notch to add to their belt, as an exciting and eye-catching space opera that’s also a proper illustration of sci-fi genre trends in the early 21st century – and yet, still able to keep moviegoers looking ahead to tomorrow.
The Jupiter Ascending supporting cast includes Sean Bean (Game of Thrones), Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables), Douglas Booth (Noah) and Tuppence Middleton (Trance), in addition to Cloud Atlas alums Doona Bae and James D’Arcy (who both played multiple roles in the Wachowskis and Tykwer’s book adaptation).
Jupiter Ascending opens in 2D, 3D and IMAX theaters on July 18th, 2014.