Last night I attended an early screening of Jupiter Ascending, by the Wachowski Brothers. I went into the movie truly hoping to enjoy it. With a rich sci-fi world, fun cast, awesome and special effects, what could go wrong? A lot actually. I’m not saying I didn’t like the film, but I do have to address some issues I had with it.
The film tries to fit three movies worth of world-building, character development, and explanations into one jam-packed action fest. Your suspension of disbelief will be pushed to breaking under the weight of all that is coming at you at top speed. Genetically manipulated super-humans that farm other humans for time, servitor humans spliced with animals to serve their powerful masters, a galactic police force that allows human farming to happen despite how much everyone seems to despise it, a plot to harvest a young girls ovaries to buy a giant TV turns into an alien kidnapping, a wolfman with hover boots who just wants his wings back, a romance that springs up from seemingly nowhere but everyone supports wholeheartedly; the list goes on.
I don’t fault the film for having such a vast and deep world build, just the opposite. I love rich storytelling! The problem is, the film never takes its time explaining. You don’t get any time to absorb what is coming at you and that could work as a meta element seeing as Jupiter is having the same experience. One minute she is cleaning toilets and the next she is a universal corporate mega star. If she reacted in a more believable way the whole thing could have worked, but she seems to take much of these revelations in stride. She adapts extremely quickly to the point of being able to recite laws verbatim from a book after only being given it a short time previously. There is not mention of her having a Eidetic memory so your belief in the character is tested. This happens over and over again.
Jupiter also seems to be extremely gullible. Every time she turns around she seems to be accepting whatever the bad guys are saying. She talks about having trust issues and then turns around and agrees to marry a guy she just met because he says it is a good idea.
This is especially surprising since she develops feelings at the drop of a hat for the bounty hunter, Caine Wise, who has been saving her ass all movie. Their strange and instantaneous relationship has some funny moments including the infamous lines:
Caine: Your Majesty, I have more in common with a dog than I have with you.
Jupiter Jones: I love dogs, I’ve always loved dogs.
At least Jupiter has the sense to cringe after that.
The last complaint I have is the 3D. I’m not a huge fan of 3D movies to begin with, but if it is done well it can enhance the experience. I don’t feel like the 3D added anything to Jupiter Ascending. Instead, it often felt distracting. I could have watched the movie without the 3D and been much happier.
Despite all that nonsense, I have to admit that I enjoyed the movie anyway. The action was exciting, I loved the character designs (especially the dragonkin. They kicked ass), the spaceships were awesome, and everything was fun. While the acting often left something to be desired, I think Sean Bean did a pretty good job at being the grizzled war vet and Eddie Redmayne makes a pretty good “hateful aristocrat”. I would have loved to see more of their characters (and really all the characters) fleshed out a bit, but there is only so much time to do that in one movie. like I said before, this could have been an epic series with a lot more like if they had just spread it out a little.
If you can suspend your disbelief, or better yet just shelve it for an evening, then you’ll probably enjoy the film.
So give it a shot and tell me what you think in the comments.