As a science fiction geek, there’s several different tropes of the genre that I enjoy. I tend to love most of it. I scour the news for those page 12 stories that’ll change everything one day. Today there was a scientist talking about finding the key to immortality and my brain thinks… well fuck, that’ll cause a resource problem. I mean, if the 1% can live forever, then their fortunes can be hoarded forever – and we’ll all just continually be fucked forever.
There’s a new Wachowski film, JUPITER ASCENDING. The screening at SUNDANCE was fairly disastrous from all accounts, word on the film was pretty toxic, then Monday night, I saw a review from our ol pal Moriarty, still hiding under the name of Drew McWeeny over at Hitfix… and he had a blast with the film. He admitted to some ever so slight reservations about Mila Kunis in the film… but he sung the praises of Channing Tatum. However, he absolutely got the fun of what the Wachowskis were going for… and I knew. JUPITER ASCENDING would kick my ass.
You see… There’s all sorts of rumors out there about Drew and I, but I still read everything he writes. Sometimes I feel he’s a grumpier old man than I am, and I think he’d probably agree with that, but one thing we’ve nearly always agreed on… it’s big insane science fiction.
He would accuse me of investing more thought and passion into most science fiction properties than the folks that make these, but that’s just because… I genuinely want to love Science Fiction. Do you get that?
The great joy of my life is reading every day about the new amazing things we can do as a people. 3D Printing is amazing, but the Genetic breakthroughs we’re on the cusp of, some of the advances in smart medicines, Space, Tech… there are things that will happen in the next 40 years that will make these first 40 years of my life just freak out. At least, that’s what I choose to believe. Who knows, maybe your future is naked evil barbarism and anarchy. But me… The geeks will make the future worth living in.
More than that though, I love people. All types of people. I listen to what they have to say and I invest myself in those conversations and everything I learn about life, I take with me back into a theater and I invest it in the characters I see.
JUPITER ASCENDING is not about the planet Jupiter reaching any particular point on our horizon here on Earth. Jupiter is Jupiter Jones, Mila Kunis. She’s a child born into tragedy, brought to a new country and raised cleaning the toilets of those better off. She listens to unbelievably fortunate people comparing themselves to Cinderella, while she cleans their shit… I mean, do they even get what they’re saying? No, because no matter where you are in life, you believe that someone special is out there to make life all better, even if it is great. Jupiter is fantastic.
Mila Kunis break. I’m not super crazy about Mila Kunis. I like her. She’s obviously gorgeous, but she’s never been in that movie that made me go gaga. Here, I think I went gaga for her. I totally grok this Jupiter Jones character. First, I love that she’s a character that is always on the outside looking in, doesn’t matter if she’s cleaning toilets and listening to a girl with walk in closets of designer clothes dreaming of being taken away from all of this… to being told, you now own Earth and several other more valuable planets and missing the simplicity of cleaning toilets. You see, she “hated” her life, but she was making the best of it, in her own way. That’s what got her caught. Just trying to get something for herself.
Mila’s Jupiter Jones isn’t like Ellen Ripley, she doesn’t switch on the kickass testosterone side of her personality and wields crazy weapons. She’s also not BARBARELLA, exactly. She may love beautiful things, but she doesn’t expect them, and if they’re given, she doesn’t trust that they don’t come with a higher price to pay.
This new layer to the world she is exposed to, it’s a bit traumatic. It’s amazing, but she’s going to learn some truths about life on planet Earth, that no Earthling would particularly like to hear. I mean, it is kinda a lot worse than SOYLENT GREEN IS MADE OF PEOPLE. It really is. I can respect cannibalism. I mean, you’re hungry, nothing to eat. Sure, its meat. But this isn’t that kinda story. They’re not gonna get crazy gross on you here.
No, the Wachowskis have made a full fledged Disney Science Fiction Princess Fantasy… They even give Mila’s Jupiter Jones some crazy fun Princess Powers. Ya know how Bee swarms are crazy frightening, well, if you’re space royalty, bee’s were engineered for you. And that’s cool. I like that. She enjoys it too, its genuinely magical. She’s a little girl from Russia that cleans toilets that’s never been out in the country and now Bee’s act as though they’re an extension of her whim. Cool. Just neat-o.
Now, then there’s Channing Tatum, he’s Caine… a bio-engineered splice that sort of mixes WOLF with Human. And yeah, that may sound a bit lame… and you might look at stills of Channing Tatum and then look on TV at the talk shows and think… what the fuck is this shit? But ya know what? It’s kinda crazy cool. He’s got a ray gun, one of those Gungan Energy Shields from Naboo – and this new thing we haven’t seen before… GRAVITY BOOTS, these things allow you to skate on air, “Going up is hard, Going down is easy,” but what he doesn’t say… is it’s crazy cool. Not sure if I quite have a handle on the visual dynamics, which is essentially another way of saying that I can’t wait to watch scenes from this movie on constant repeat. There’s a lot of great action here. And he’s that character. He’s never really tongue in cheek, he feels completely unworthy of Jupiter’s attention, but she does drive him crazy, maybe it is that she cleans toilets. Or maybe it’s that she’s Mila Kunis and worthy of complete adoration, but this is essentially a version of KRULL. Caine is our Space Werewolf Achilles in this tale – and he’s all kinds of science fiction fun. He’s constantly chasing after Jupiter, always stating different things, but we get a subtle look into his sensory appreciation for her, there’s something about her. But it’s never exaggerated. It’s just a touch that works.
Then you have Sean Bean as Stinger… he’s apparently got some Bee in him. He’s just great in this. I really love his fight with Channing. It isn’t elaborate, but it is very well handled. BTW – there’s that aspect. THE ACTION. The Wachowskis do this better than just about anyone. The choreography is just leagues better just on a pure conceptual level. And the attention to detail always pays of for those paying attention.
The film is playing with class on multiple levels too. You have the Earth rich which just seem oblivious of others’ situations. You have Jupiter in the servant sector of society. You get Sean Bean and Channing Tatum as essentially working Space Mercenaries, then you get the “Descendants” of Jupiter’s reincarnated genetic roots and the business that they’re in.
It’s full on Jonathan Swift’s MODEST PROPOSAL… a harsh condemnation to the lengths the obscene will go through to cling to power. Yet, completely imaginable to us children of TO SERVE MAN kind of Rod Serling. There is a definite pull from Cinderella, but it’s Channing with the notable magical tech shoes, I really can’t complement them boots enough! Very cool tech. But the 1970’s Sci Fi Illustration Look to the sci fi is exquisite. This has never been rendered anywhere near this level of beauty before.
I think the coolest aspect of the film. The thing that captured my imagination was the Alien Refinery hidden within the inner atmosphere of the Eye of Jupiter. It is just… Very cool. I mean, I love that it made me look at JUPITER images for a goodly time tonight smiling thinking about what happened in that big ol iconic Red Spot. Within the local Solar System, it may even be a nod to Hitchcock for ICONIC SETTING for Climatic WHAT THE FUCK… but the Wachowskis… when they’ve got crazy evil Eddie Redmayne, do his own particular best Jafar, and it’s fucking weird, but nothing is really too big for this movie.
I mean, they pull off Space Doggy Tatum! That’s… Amazing. So amazing, that it reminded me of that point in time when we all thought Keanu Reeves was going to suck as Neo. Well, those that knew about it. I’ve been looking at stills of that character and trying to hold on to faith that the Wachowskis would pull through. But, he kinda looks hilarious, but he doesn’t act that way. He’s really really great.
Oh – and TERRY GILLIAM is actually in this movie! Just you wait and see! Genius!
Now, I want to talk about the very end of the film. I won’t reveal what is being shown, but it’s my interpretation of that final shot there. I love it. It feels like the beginning of something. What is Jupiter’s plan? Her name is that of a superhero. JUPITER JONES, pure awesome comic book.
At the end of this – she’s in a pretty amazing position. What would you do? She loves and cherishes her family. But they’ve a life and who is she to change that? But… she’s going up to roof tops with her Wereboy / John Phillip Law from Barbarella… and what are they doing there? I get the idea she wants to be seen. I believe she and Caine – who could kick any ass that is on Earth… they might be starting something. Something small at first, but then later… who knows? Are they hunting remnant evil ‘harvesting’ that they’re aware of on Earth? Illegal poaching? And how long will she keep the pretense up?
This is, for all intents and purposes, a most awesome origin story to a Science Fiction Queen of the Universe, setting up ass-kicking shop here on Earth, with the ability to get really intensely out of this world. AND… I wish everyone on Earth could see this film the way I do. This is a crazy cool beginning introduction to what feels like a quite extensively thought out culture of genetically modified, super advance tech science fiction, and this was just her first adventure. Or she’s simply enjoying the sky with her hunky Peter Pan? I don’t know. But she’s got a wild eye for adventure, it’s really the first time in the film she has this particular look. She has a partner she loves that knows everything and can teach her so much. I dig it.
I hope the audience of people that are intrigued by the film embrace it. I know quite a few folks that truly loved the film tonight, even with the projection mishap. The lobby was filled with folks chatting excitedly, not dismissively of the film. I, found this to be a completely refreshing sci-fantasy jaunt. Just descending into the eye of Jupiter… at this level of Visual Effects whiz-bangery. I mean. IMAX that shit!
Oh, did I mention that the score is by Michael Giacchino… which is another reason why this film kicks ass.
In closing. Before going to a movie, ask yourself why you are going. Too often when I go to theaters in the early part of the year, I hear a whole lot of bitching and moaning about getting through these early parts of the year. Then, save your money, stay at home… However, if in January and February, you find yourself excited at the thought of the latest Wachowski Sci-Fi spectacle, you will probably have a great deal of love for this movie.
I’m not sure why so many summarily rejected CLOUD ATLAS, TIME magazine’s ludicrous declaration that it was the worst movie of that year was so out of line to me, that I canceled my subscription to TIME.
This latest film is playing with some exciting fun spectacle that doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen before. In my book, the Wachowskis only faltered a bit on that second MATRIX movie, otherwise… they continue to kick ass!