Where to start with Luc Besson’s hallucinatory, adolescent, sci-fi soap opera? First, the good: The special effects and alien designs are mind-blowing, the kind of cornucopia of inventiveness that inevitably lead to comparisons to similar sci-fi epics like “Avatar” and “Star Wars,” not to mention Besson’s own “The Fifth Element” (which, retroactively, seems to have “borrowed” extensively from “Valerian and Laureline,” the French graphic novel this movie is based on). There’s so much visual splendor that it’s just about impossible to take all of it in after just one viewing, with first-rate special effects and creature designs filling every shot. Now, the bad: The screenplay and the acting are distractingly amateurish, with jarring, teen-show banter by execrable leads Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne sticking out like a sore thumb and preventing the audience from becoming fully immersed in the movie itself. In addition, a variety of distracting cameos (from Ethan Hawke to Rihanna to Herbie Hancock, etc) add to the film’s structural woes, resulting in a visually astonishing, barely coherent and poorly acted mess that makes “Jupiter Ascending” seem restrained and cohesive in comparison. Still though, what an incredible spectacle.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)