When a film is amazing, we create a fandom. When a film is terrible, we create memes. But when a film like Jupiter Ascending appears, equal parts amazing and terrible, we form a cult and bow down to our new glittery, poorly scripted overlords.
Boasting an abysmal Rotten Tomatoes score and also some of the most stunning visuals in a movie this side of Avatar, Jupiter manages to blend high-octane (and high-budget) action and SFX into what can only be a teenage girl’s fanfiction about her favourite space opera. And, bizarrely… I don’t even think I mean this as a criticism.
There’s so much to say about this film. A lot of it has been said already. But there is still so much to say.
Significant-seeming plot points are introduced and dropped (What’s with the bees? Who are those lizards? Why does Channing Tatum have angel wings? Why am I asking these questions?), a climactic scene somehow manages to frame an ornate couch as the central character in the shot, and the majority of the most serious lines make the whole cinema burst into laughter.
I want to see it eight more times.
Mila Kunis’ eponymous Jupiter is the ultimate Mary Sue: an average young girl plucked from mediocrity because it turns out she was very important all along, who somehow picks up kick-ass fighting skills over the course of a few hours at the expense of growing a personality. To her credit, Kunis carries the character well; it’s just a pity there’s not a whole lot of character worth carrying in the first place.
The closest thing we have to a villain is Eddie Redmayne, who only just about qualifies as such, swishing around in a number of sparkly capes. His performance makes me regret every time I have used the word sashay in my life, because every other instance of sashaying simply pales in comparison to the way he swoons around the set in a floating trail of silk. He gasps out his lines like he’s using his last dying breath to push his character’s bizarre Oedipal complex, and he stares out at the audience with a waxily botoxed face. I feel like Redmayne probably auditioned for this film as a joke that he just kept going when he got the part.
For some reason, Channing Tatum is genetically part wolf. There is no reason for this. It doesn’t add a single thing to the plot. We the audience just sort of… accept it. He skates around in anti-gravity rollerblades – until the end when he gets his aforementioned angel wings, of course – and he and Kunis do their utmost to create the chemistry between their characters that the script neglected to include.
Frankly, the entire cast deserve Oscars for managing to take the whole thing seriously.
And yet, in spite of its dodgy dialogue and generally iffy storyline, Jupiter is definitely a film worth seeing, in the most literal sense of the word. The scenery is spectacular and the wardrobe has been lifted straight from an interstellar high-end designer catwalk. Heck, I don’t even have a problem with that beautiful couch being the focus of the shot.
It also, somehow, gives us a lot of things we’ve been asking for from action and sci-fi: an explanation for why no one cares that a city got destroyed, characters held accountable for treating women like commodities, a glimpse into the messed-up bureaucracy of galactic capitalism. If the movie was actually good, this blog could well have been an extended thinkpiece about how the Wachowskis have shaped the future of sci-fi.
Jupiter Ascending is a dreadful film with a feeble script and highly questionable plot. Please, please watch it.
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