I. Simon’s review published on Letterboxd:
Indifference on my first viewing in 2015 and mildly positive on my second in 2019, but after getting Wachowski-pilled this year and deciding to give it a third viewing, this is finally starting to click for me.
For how convoluted it can get narratively, I cannot stress enough how much I love the sheer scope of this, so much that the aesthetics do a lot of heavy lifting for me with this one. CLOUD ATLAS DoP John Toll and production designer Hugh Bateup both do stellar work here, and it makes me even more excited for their work on The Matrix Resurrections, especially after the two magnificent trailers we’ve gotten so far. Will admit that some of the action is a bit too choppily edited (which is very unusual for the Wachowski Sisters, especially when factoring in that THE MATRIX RELOADED in particular has what I regard to be the single greatest action set-piece in any studio film), but the beats themselves at least have a sense of kineticism and never once feel like poorly-assembled coverage. Seen lots of criticism directed towards Mila Kunis’s performance over the years (and I’ll admit I was probably guilty of criticizing her myself), but I’d argue that much like in OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, she uses her inherent innocence to her advantage here. A genuinely charming performance if you ask me. And bless the Wachowski Sisters for being the only ones to ever get an enjoyable performance out of Eddie Redmayne.
I don’t deny this is rough around the edges and even bloated to a fault, but it’s so fucking baffling and weird to me how this gets regarded as a “soulless disaster” when there’s genuine craft and so much passion on display that is absent in many tentpoles now. At the very least, Jupiter Ascending actually looks and sounds cinematic and has ideas. Ambitious to a fault, sure, but it’s often better to have too many ideas than zero ideas at all. A flawed film, but one that is filled to the brim with sincerity and visual imagination. I hope the Wachowski Sisters continue to take huge swings like this.