Here we are again, on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the movies I own and have recently watched again. Here we go with one of the biggest bombs of last year, Jupiter Ascending. This was in my notes at July 1, 2015.
Ah, Jupiter Ascending. The sign that the Wachowskis have gone full-blown M. Night Shamylan. Once promising directors in the genre, now their name attached means a rapidly declining quality. But, I am kind of surprised. Now that it's on home media, it's almost being heralded as a new camp classic. And I always give the Wachowskis a look-see. I mean, The Matrix is still regarded as one of the best sci-fi films ever, and, I know I'm in the minority on this one, but I think that Speed Racer is fucking brilliant.
I've been doing this for almost four years, and I haven't done Speed Racer yet. I need to get on that.
I did go to see this in the theatres when it came out back in the spring, and I came away with the same feeling I got from Disney's mega-bomb John Carter...they did too much focus on world-building, while kind of skipping over telling an interesting story in that world. That's kind of been the Wachowskis' problem ever since The Matrix Reloaded. You have this amazing, fantastical universe...but the characters would rather sit around and pontificate. It's the Kevin Smith of sci-fi...just replace lengthy discussions of Star Wars with debates about philosophy.
But the Wachowskis still have a great visual flair. Don't get me wrong, the world they built looks gorgeous...if a bit on the generic sci-fi spaceships side. And there's some pretty good action sequences, if all of them seem to involve rescuing Jupiter from falling. More like Jupiter Descending, am I right?
Anyone? Anyone? OK...moving on.
So, Jupiter Jones is the daughter of Russian immigrants, and a lowly cleaning lady in Chicago. Until Caine, the half-wolf alien bounty hunter saves her from some other aliens one night. Turns out, in a grand galactic coincidence, Jupiter has the exact same DNA as the former queen of the galaxy. And, under the rules of ascension in this movie, that makes her a legitimate heir to the throne. Naturally, the queen's three kids want this threat to their rule eliminated.
And hence, one of the biggest problems with the film...the pure repetition. Jupiter is captured by one of the kids, only to be rescued by Caine. Repeat two more times, and there's your movie. It's just Jupiter being captured and rescued again and again and again.
But a couple of clever ideas do pop forth. As one critic said, this is perhaps the first film ever with a section dedicated to the bureaucracy of claiming a title, as Jupiter has to navigate a labyrinth of government offices to get her claim legitimized. The day I saw it in the theatre, I finally picked up Brazil on Blu-Ray, and the Wachowskis have admitted, they conceived the entire scene as an homage to Brazil. Hell, even Brazil's director and Monty Python member Terry Gilliam pops up for a cameo. It's kind of funny.
But...yeah. Enough has been written about Mila Kunis's and Channing Tatum's flat performances, and Eddie Redmayne's whisper/shouty voice. So I wont' dwell on it.
It's boring philosophy debates coupled with space stuff we've mostly seen before. It's...meh.