Jupiter Ascending

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Release: Friday, February 6, 2015

[Theater]

Written by:  The Wachowskis

Directed by: The Wachowskis

As Jupiter ascended, my patience and enthusiasm did precisely the opposite, and at warp speed, too.

After production delays stalled the Wachowski siblings’ follow-up to their impressive Cloud Atlas, I still held out hope that even with extensive CGI surgery the general experience would remain unaffected. I guess I was right. The story we’re presented — a girl, born under a starry night sky, doesn’t believe she’s worth much but as it turns out she is actually on a collision course with an unearthly huge responsibility: saving her/our planet from being harvested by a campy celestial tyrant — remains as a decent second-draft that needed more updates than the visual component of the film did. All of this is to suggest I overlooked the fact that maybe, just maybe, the Wachowskis had been sitting on their weakest story to date.

Sure, you can go ahead and snicker at a polished Channing Tatum whose Caine Wise humbles his Magic Mike on the virtue of insane hair-do’s alone. His goofy appearance makes the film ripe for parody, as do the talking reptilian villains, Eddie Redmayne’s awful performance and Mila Kunis’ lack of credibility as a planetary savior. Part of what makes a Wachowski creation entertaining as well as endearing is this tendency for their situations and characters to stay on just the right side of bizarre. Odd customs and cultures, strange dialects, occasionally clunky dialogue and over-the-top action sequences trickle their way into each one of their productions. It’s as much fun to go along with the ride as it is to nitpick over their ongoing infatuation with Asians and creative nomenclature. Jupiter Ascending, however, oversteps a line.

Jupiter Jones loses her parents much too soon, and so she’s raised in a strange and somewhat oppressive Russian household that has her waking up at quarter to five each morning to scrub toilets and bemoaning how much she “hates her life.” I think I would too with a name that may or may not imply I am a gigantic blob of gas. It’s a good thing she’ll soon be targeted by a powerful intergalactic family that has just lost its matriarch and needs a new heir. The surviving Abrasax siblings — Balem (Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) and Titus (Douglas Booth) — are squabbling over who should seize control of their estate, a sector of the universe that includes Earth. Tatum’s genetically-modified human/wolf appears in Chicago to rescue Jupiter from a random attack by some of Balem’s minions (the Keepers) once the freckled maniac learns of her existence and her true identity. The girl of course has no idea what is going on.

Funny enough, neither do we.

Her naivety swells to the point where it becomes the driving force behind the narrative. This is a little misleading because at the heart of this space opera is the need for Jupiter to find her true calling in life, and to her that means finding the one person she really loves. That’s something that overrides her desire to own the Earth. If you’re not distracted by the incredibly cool renderings of space and its myriad civilizations — toss in an intergalactic police force referred to as the Aegis for further confusion — then you might have the unfortunate luck of coming to the realization that this is all the Wachowskis have to offer here. Jupiter Ascending is a standard love story mired in overly complex mythos, poor acting and silly storytelling.

Damn it if the ideology of these Abrasax weirdos doesn’t tease something greater though. There’s this almost poetic fascination with the largest celestial body in our solar system and how a superior form of intelligence may someday be the downfall of our civilization. Jupiter, the planet, is really a thing of beauty and the film can’t emphasize this enough. The visuals are jaw-dropping, even if they’re mostly dedicated to action sequences that go on a few minutes too long. But even on Earth, as Jupiter is shrouded in a cloud of bees that refuse to sting Her Majesty, the cinematography is beautifully refined.

I’d be okay with the story taking a backseat to impressive scenery had the Wachowskis not already established themselves as filmmakers who pride themselves on being able to present the complete package: stunning visuals accompanying intelligent, if not revolutionary storytelling. Everyone in awe of Jupiter and her ascent can only feel completely betrayed by this declension.

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1-5Recommendation: I’m not really sure that I do. I think I feel more comfortable recommending you save a few bucks and going to check out something else.

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 125 mins.

Quoted: “I will harvest that planet tomorrow before I let her take it from me. . .”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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39 thoughts on “Jupiter Ascending

  1. Nobody likes this! Actually, I’ve read one positive review of it, and that’s because I actively searched for it. Really wanted this to be good. I’ll go watch The Matrix instead. Sorry for the comment spam by the way!

  2. Nice review! Terrible movie save the special effects. Those Wachowski Broth…er I mean Brother and Sister have not provided any substantial in this film.

    • Lol I know right, it’s confusing since Larry went Lana on us. . . Great to hear from you again Dustin! My apologies on not being on by Sunday Dumbday in quite some time. Must change that! 😀

  3. Pingback: TBT: The Matrix (1999) | digitalshortbread

    • The visuals are most definitely worth seeing on a big screen but sadly the story and acting and literally everything else is just such shit that I don’t think I’d feel very good about recommending this to you. Haha you’re most welcome. Anything I can do to help people live a more healthy lifestyle. 🙂

  4. I feel like I should see this just to have some thoughts on it, but man, review after review has kept me away. I don’t think I can dredge up even a shred of desire to pay for a ticket, and it is sad because I love sci-fi. But as it sounds this seems to say little about anything.

    I saw Seventh Son last week instead of this. That was terrible as well, and yet I shudder to think that I may like that more than this. Great thoughts Tom!

  5. Hey Tom! I was worried you’re gonna love this one, ahah. Well we’re in agreement then man, I gave it a 1.5/5 and I think I was being generous! I should’ve listened to my instinct when I saw the trailer but hey at least I didn’t have to pay to see it 🙂

    • Ouch, 1.5/5? Wow. Yeah I didn’t like it much either, there were quite a few things I enjoyed (like the visuals!) and Channing Tatum. . . also getting to see Sean Bean again!! but these things were outnumbered by the elements I found annoying or just not so good. Such a profound disappointment for me, I was looking forward to this for ages. . . 😦

      • I never care for Channing though he’s good in Foxcatcher and the 21 Jump Street flicks, but here he’s just off. As for Sean Bean, I do love him but man it’s painful seeing him here. If you check out my review, I included a tweet that perfectly describes how I feel about his involvement 😉

  6. I too was way too excited for this flick and was really upset it got pushed from last year to February. And now that it’s in theaters- I have absolutely no urge to see it- such a shame. Thanks for the reminder, Tom!

    • The exact same applies here bro. I lost some faith in the project when it got pushed but then just thought that maybe some extra time in CGI surgery might actually give it a boost. I had no idea this was the story they had, as I didn’t really do much reading about this one. Tried to stay somewhat in the dark.

      I’ll give the Wachowski’s another shot though, I like them too much to let this be the be-all, end-all. Too bad you won’t be checking it out in theaters, but honestly that’s a good call. Give it a rent sometime and see what you think

    • I’ll put it this way: I regret having spent the money on Jupiter Ascending. Thought this movie really really lived down to the Wachowski’s worst tendencies: stilted/awkward dialogue, poor blending of story with grandiose design, and an overly complex narrative. People complain about Cloud Atlas being too much, but I found that actually somewhat easier to follow than this one!

    • Man there’s a lot of Wachowski haters out there, aren’t there? Lol. This did suck, but I’m eager to see what they do next.

    • Great news to hear man! I wish I could have enjoyed it more myself. I was drooling over the CGI, but dumbfounded by the lack of sophistication with other elements. The two things together just didn’t match up for me here unfortunately.

  7. I’m tellin’ ya man, I’m probably going to see this Friday but I’m not looking forward to it. First I have come to terms with the fact that I just don’t care for the Wachowskis. They are creative for sure but they indulge themselves to epic proportions. This thing looked like microwaved crap from the trailers and the reviews seem to be confirming it. So of course I’m going to pay for a ticket. I’m an idiot.

    • There’s a lot I like about them but I see where people can be turned away from their high-brow concepts. They do tend to overindulge in epic stories. But I also tend to indulge in epically ridiculous write-ups here so I guess they appeal to me naturally! Hahah.

      That said, Jupiter Ascending was not one of their successes. In fact I’d be comfortable with dubbing this their worst (and hopefully will remain that way for good).

      I bid you luck in your voyage to jupiter this week. Hopefully you don’t suffer quite like I did, given that you aren’t bringing in with you some lofty expectations.

  8. The trailer already had me convinced that this would be bad. It has a good cast but the best cast in the world would still suck with bad material. Great write up though!

    • Thanks Natasha. I was one who was actually quite impressed with the trailer and all that, I really had high expectations going into this. And honestly I could’ve swallowed this pill easier if it wasn’t just so. . .awkward. Mila Kunis’ character was kind of frustrating, Redmayne was bad and the story was back-seat to admittedly gorgeous visuals. *Sigh.*

      Oh well, maybe their next project will be a bounce-back for them. 🙂

    • I had a lot invested in this one coming in but when I heard about the project getting delayed my enthusiasm had to be curbed a little. Watching this, I was amazed at how terrible everything was. Esp Redmayne. Although he was intentionally hamming it up, I’m sure. He just was hilariously into the realm of the cheesy.

      Never saw Norbit, but I guess I know to continue avoiding it. 🙂

  9. Hello Tom. I couldn’t wait to come to your page because I assumed that you would have watched this too. Tonight, I made the decision to go see this…alone…after a long day of work. I didn’t call my girlfriend. I didn’t call a friend. I went to see this because I don’t want to work when I currently work anymore. I want to work for my university’s newspaper and being consistent with my new release reviews will land me a job as the editor. You didn’t need to know any of the little things that went into my decision to watch this..

    …but folks who watch Jupiter Ascending needed to know the little things. We are presented an awesome world, but never given a reason to care. The Wachowski’s have masted the art of being both creative and cliche at the same damn time. So much potential blended with so much shit.

    Which I have to write two reviews on…fuck.

    You’re spot on brother!

    • Hah!! I appreciate the sharing of all the details here. Good backstory, and yeah you’re absolutely right about them failing to give us a reason to care. It was hard enough taking everyone seriously with all that garb they had on, but then the dialogue was probably the clunkiest I’ve ever heard the Wachowski’s write. I don’t know what happened here. What a disaster.

      As you can tell, I’m somewhat irritated by that fact. Lol

        • Dude speaking of which — one of those two instances (maybe there were more, I can’t remember) where Redmayne’s Balem just simply yelled out of nowhere actually startled me awake after I apparently was drifting off in my chair. Lol. I never do that in movies.

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