Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis offered leads in Wachowskis Sci-Fi ‘Jupiter Ascending’

It makes sense that the Wachowskis are looking forward to their next film now, because they’re in the final stages of working on “Cloud Atlas,” the movie they made with Tom Tykwer.

I’m dying to see “Cloud Atlas,” if only because the book seems so wildly impossible to turn into a film.  I love that.  I love when artists take on a challenge that big, especially when the conventional thinking would be to do something safe and commercially friendly.  After all, the two “Matrix” sequels tarnished the reputation of the series to such a degree that it went from becoming the most promising franchise of the 2000s to being a punchline.  And while I love “Speed Racer,” it is treated as a punching bag at this point.  Even with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry and Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon aboard, this is anything but a safe bet.

So “Cloud Atlas” represents the Wachowskis making a decision that flies right in the face of the sort of thinking that typically runs this town.  I’d love to know what Warner Bros. thinks of the film.  My guess is that they’re at least a little bit happy with it, because it appears they are moving forward on “Jupiter Ascending,” which sounds like the commercial dessert that will make it easier for Warner to deal with whatever fate awaits “Cloud Atlas.”  Although the plot is being kept quiet, it is a science-fiction film, and considering the last time the Wachowskis did original sci-fi, it was the first “Matrix,” that is exciting news.

It looks like they’ve offered the leads in the film to Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis.  A year ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the Channing Tatum casting, but I think he’s turned a corner as a performer.  Part of that is the material he’s been given, and part of that is due to him becoming more and more comfortable with himself on-camera.  Kunis has always been interesting, and like the rest of the cast of “That ’70s Show,” she’s been able to make smart choices after that show went off the air because of how financially secure they all were at the end of the run.  She’s mixed it up with films like “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Black Swan,” and she also seems to be aging into her talents in interesting ways.  I’m curious to see her work in the Seth McFarlane comedy “Ted” and Sam Raimi’s “Oz” film.

If Tatum and Kunis do end up taking the roles, that sounds good to me.  I think the Wachowskis have an interesting eye for casting, and these two are both poised for a larger stardom.  If this is even half as exciting as the first “Matrix,” this could be a big win for all involved.

“Cloud Atlas” is set for release later this year.

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