People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different. In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all. Read on!
The Wachowskis are hugely imaginative and extremely skilled, interesting filmmakers who’ve made some of the great science-fiction films of the last twenty years. This is a big, space opera type of film with warring houses and laser guns and what looks to be futuristic rollerblades. I love futuristic rollerblades.
There was more than a few moments in Jupiter Ascending where I thought, “Maybe this is The Wachowskis big follow-up to the ideas presented in Cloud Atlas, and they’re consciously trying to incorporate every generic idea from every big-budget science fiction film into one super colossal sci-fi almagamation.” And then pointy-eared Channing Tatum rollerbladed through the clouds of Jupiter and the horrifying thought came to roost: this is a very, very bad film. I might be saying that because I’m such an ardent fan of The Wachowskis and just about everything they do. These are two filmmakers who, time and time again, push the boundaries of what a big budget film should look like and, almost time and time again, succeed on both a creative and financial level. Jupiter Ascending fails creatively and, most assuredly, is going to tank hard at the box office. The Wachowskis have formulated a big, strange, Dune-like world, where ultra-rich, immortal, super-elites rule the Universe. Jupiter Jones (Milas Kunis in quite possibly the worst role of her entire career) is an illegal alien (get it?) who scrubs toilets for her uncle’s cleaning company and, surprisingly, is a new heir to side wing of alien royalty. Caine (a dog-eared, half-wolf, gene fighter played by hunk of muscle Channing Tatum) comes to Earth to retrieve her for her newly found siblings (children?) but things go, well, they go romantic. I could, if I wanted to relive the nine years I spent in the theater, continue to dig deeper and deeper into the massive, complex story and world The Wachowskis have created here, but it will only leave us all confused and into a dark state of mental regression. To their credit, the world the creators of this film imagined is big – and absolutely stunning – and has the potential, a thousand times over, to be fascinating, but somehow, it just isn’t. It’s like a buffet in Vegas – everything looks and seems so goddamn good you just want to pile your plate with pot roast and lobster and sushi and bisque, but when you bring it all back to the table, you just want to sip your Coke a few times and go to sleep. Somehow, with all the money and creative freedom at their disposal, The Wachowskis made a pretty sub-par 80s sci-fi action film with too much plot and some of the worst character development of their solid careers. I wanted to like this film, hell I wanted to love this film, as much as anyone, and as Channing Tatum roller-bladed across the roiling clouds of Jupiter and Milas Kunis said something sassy and fell through broken glass one more time, I realized, that no matter how many times Eddie Redmayne screamed like a dying bird, that it was never, ever, going to happen.
I’m happy because of the range and world building of this film. I’m unhappy because everything else in it is a convoluted, boring mess. Find some middle ground Wachowskis.