Jupiter Ascending – so bad it’s good?
I’d like to think that I’m an unbiased reviewer – aside from my predilection towards Comics, SciFi and Fantasy of course – and as such can look at a movie with an un-jaundiced eye. Someone that can enjoy it for the good and look (mostly) beyond the bad to get to the underlying story and meat of the idea. Now I’m as human as the next person and I have my own preconceived idea’s and notions as well as expectations when I walk into a theater and in this instance perhaps they overwhelmed my natural neutrality as I while I know I’ve been burned a couple of times by the Wachowskis, I had high hopes for another surprise shocker like their film The Matrix.
Unfortunately this movie is not The Matrix – although there are similarities with regards to harvesting humans, nor is it any of the other great classics like Dune (although the costumes are somewhat reminiscint) or Star Wars (although the battles in space evoke some fond memories), but rather it is a mish-mash of everything all thrown together. The cinematics – as in everything they do – are excellent, with some fabulous sequences, but there isn’t really anything special that makes it stand out from any of the other SciFi movies out there and as already mentioned it seems to steal as much as it can from all of them in an effort to appeal to the widest possible audience.
In a nutshell and without giving away too much (well the trailers have already done most of this too be honest), Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones as the reincarnation of an eons old Queen. It seems humanity didn’t actually develop on Earth as initially thought but were seeded on the planet 100,000 years ago as “food stock” of sorts. The rest of the “developed” galaxy can utilize humans from Earth as energy/fuel to enable them to maintain their youth and the Queen as mentioned earlier was in charge of the family that “owned” Earth.
With Mila’s birth however she has an opportunity to change these laws and perhaps free Earth from this harvest so she needs to be rescued/found/destroyed (depends on the point of view of the person) from Earth by one of her “children.” These children are each thousands of years old themselves and have control over a multitude of other planets which they harvest similarly to what they are planning on doing on Earth and the three of them each compete to cajole/trick/destroy Jupiter into giving up her claim on the throne. Confused enough yet? It gets better … we’ve got the reincarnation of the Space Queen in Mila Kunis, but did I mention the half-wolf hybrid angel alien with gravity roller skates played by Channing Tatum that she falls in love with? How could I have missed that!!
In addition to Mila Kunis you have Jarvis (from Agent Carter) playing her father … well not really but it’s the same actor and while he’s only in it for about five minutes at the beginning its enough to really throw you for a loop. He dies as mentioned and as much as I like Jarvis, I didn’t really care leaving Mila and her mother to scrub toilets in New York city after they’d made the boat trip over.
Mila however is a dreamer and decides that she needs to have a telescope just like dear old dad, so decides to sell her eggs at an unlicensed clinic, but it is here that the aliens first attack and it is only thanks to Channing Tatum that she is able to escape. Eventually making her way to space – after being told she’s royalty by bees (… as they do. You see that happening all the time in England as they are flying around after Charles and William … they tend to avoid Harry, but no one seems to know why!) – she’s able to authenticate herself before being kidnapped by one of her children.
Escaping him (again with Channing’s help) she then becomes the captive of her other son played by Eddie Redmayne (who might be the redeeming feature of this movie to be honest … he knows this is a bad movie but he plays it to the hilt and is completely over the top) … here again Tatum comes to the rescue and many shenanigans ensue.
One of my biggest gripes with Jupiter Ascending? It tried to do it all. It’s almost like they thought they had the formula where the downtrodden victim needs to make the wisecrack at just the right moment and the audience will sympathize with him/her and make the movie a success. This isn’t really necessary … its shouldn’t feel forced as when it does it doesn’t come across as anything other than painful. Did I laugh? Well yes, but I don’t think I laughed where they wanted me to unfortunately. The sad fact is that with all the hype and news about the princesses’ from Disney no longer needing a man – see Frozen if you don’t know what I mean – you’d think they’d take that into account when they wrote/directed this, but instead of a kick-ass, take no prisoners Mila Kunis (vis-a-vis Emily Blunt from Edge of Tomorrow) we’re stuck with a (constant) damsel in distress.
Now I know that the Wachowskis have spent a sizable amount of money on this movie and in all honesty there are elements that make parts of it enjoyable, so they might actually end up recovering most of this, but in reality the only way that this is going to be significantly profitable for them is if it actually becomes a cult classic similar to the Night of the Living Dead movies, or even Blade Runner. Blade Runner bombed at the box office also so there is hope, however what Blade Runner had that Jupiter Ascending doesn’t have is a story! Does it have beauty and graphics? Well yes, it definitely has this, but you need more than stunning costumes and CGI. Bullet Time from the Matrix changed film forever … this movie doesn’t have that and Jupiter Ascending – in my opinion – isn’t bad enough to be good, it’s just disappointing as I wanted and hoped for so much more than it is.