Published on February 16th, 2015 | by SgtKaiju0
Jupiter Ascending – Review
Let’s get this out the way early, Jupiter Ascending is a hot mess of a film. The script is clunky in places, some of the acting in abysmal, the tone can shift wildly and it takes us through several seemingly pointless sub-plots. And yet, I let the cinema happy, elated even. Despite all the flaws, this a good film, a fun film. A film worth your time.
The film tells the story of Jupiter Jones (a pulp hero name if ever there was one) discovering she is a genetic re-incarnation of the dead Matriarch of one of the universe’s ruling families. She is saved from assassination by Caine Wise (another great name), a half human-half wolf ex-solider with flying boots. Along the way to her assuming her pre-destined role, we meet Bee-Cops, Elephant-Pilots, Fighting Dragons and many other wondrous and varied creations. And all of this set amoungst the backdrop of gothic spaceships, gracefully sliding through space, it’s occupants so powerful and rich, that everything else is ants by comparison.
And that is one of the inherent themes of the film, the idea of the disparity. I think the film is too pulpy to be an attempt to comment on our current wealth inequality but it is very hard to not draw lines yourself. Our star is born in a shipping container whilst being illegally smuggled into the US, now making her living as a cleaner. And then she is thrust into a world where her new ‘family’ are so wildly rich, the only care they have more time. Her reaction to this shift is what drives the story forward, especially when it comes to her relationship with Caine, a man once imprisoned for attacking an ‘Entitled’
So lets deal with some of the flaws then. Channing Tatum’s Ears. Eddie Redmayne’s Acting. The Entirely Pointless Sub-Plot With The Abrasax Sister. Who That Random Rich Friend Was. Dragons? And allow me to counter all these points (well, except maybe Eddie’s acting) with a single word. Spectacle. When it comes the world of film, we must often take a step back and ask why a certainly narrative is made as a film. Why it is in that medium rather than another. And, the truest answer to what makes a film a film and why a certain story should be a film, is spectacle. Film is in inherently visual medium and this film embraces that in spades. The Wachowski’s have always had a flair for the visual, from the moody shots of Bound or The Matrix, to the exuberant day-glo Speed Racer, and they bring that bore on this film.
And make no mistake, this is a gorgeous visual feast. Not only at the purely aesthetic level, which is mighty, but also in clever and subtle ways. Ways like the planetary watchdogs being so reminiscent of the imfamous ‘Grey’ aliens of urban legend, of a spaceship take-off leaving a perfect crop circle. And you can even go deeper than that. The images about is (SPOILERS) from the wedding of Jupiter Jones to the middle child of the Abrasax family. Her dress is a perfect symbol for her role here and his view of her. The white dress is echoing the white dress of the Sims below, clones there for their usefulness rather than emotion, but it is covered in the red flowers, matching his suit. He has dressed her in a dress that highlights how, under the red of her Entitled status, he still sees her as a useful clone, nothing more.
This film may not be a scriptually ‘smart’ as we have come to judge a film by, but it’s visual intelligence is written large. And, ultimately, that is why it’s a film not a book. And a damn good film at that.