Monday, May 11, 2015

Catching Up: Jupiter Ascending

If you tell me that a film is directed by the Wachowskis, I'm going to watch it. It doesn't matter if it's a Matrix sequel or a live-action cartoon or an ill-advised attempt to adapt a sprawling cross-genre novel, I'll be buying a ticket.  The reason for this is simple: while the sibling directors may not always achieve their lofty goals, they're always trying to do something genuinely interesting. When they pick up a project, they run it as far as they can and throw as much of themselves at the genre as they're able.  In the case of Jupiter Ascending that meant a massive budget, a scale too epic to be properly contained, and such a hodge-podge of allusions and worlds that the film can't be described on paper without sounding wholly absurd: it's a Cinderella story in which a miserable maid named Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) discovers she's genetically an intergalactic princess.  Add to that flying space lizard henchmen, a flamboyant trio of villainous space royals (headed by Eddie Redmayne), and Channing Tatum as a gravity defying, hover-skating, half-canine/half-man guardian named Caine and, well, it's easy to wonder how this managed to get a green light in the first place.

We can't dance around it: Jupiter Ascending is indeed as ridiculous as it sounds.  There's so much that teeters between self-aware camp and pure illogic that many will find it difficult to latch on to any part of the narrative.  This isn't a film where we can count on our involvement with the characters to guide us through the chaos of these worlds, and when it's hard to care, audiences disappear. Though the film opens theoretically interesting conversations on ideas like genetics, wealth, and unconventional heroes, they're under heavy layers of flat action sequences and romances without chemistry.  It's too much mythology a little too quickly, but if you're open to the idea of a king-sized space opera, Jupiter succeeds at being entertaining.  It's fun. It's silly. It's self-aware.  It's often lovely to look at.  If I'd bothered writing this closer to my screening of it, I'm sure I could have pulled out some of the smarter threads and switches the Wachowski's are known for. 

As it stands, I can only admit that when I went to see Jupiter Ascending the stress I was under could have made me love anything that was remotely distracting, but with that as a caveat, I rather liked Jupiter Ascending.  At the very least, it's a new camp classic.     

1 comment:

  1. More stars than Kingsman.. I find it hard to believe. Then again, I loved Kingsman to death.


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