Big Screen :: Jupiter Ascending
February 26th 2015
Jupiter Ascending* is about a half-man half-dog from outer space who rescues a cleaning lady named Jupiter from invisible rat monsters using some kind of anti gravity roller skates.
Then he finds out she is the reincarnation of the Queen of the Universe because some bumble bees respect her, and bees are programmed to respect queens. Then they leave earth and, with the help of some poorly defined intergalactic space cops (one of whom has face like an elephant), take on the children of the lady she is reincarnated from to stop them harvesting the earth. Also, the girl is super horny for the dog man, which raises biological and ethical questions the film does not answer.
You might have guessed from this summation that this is a movie just daring you to make fun of it. In which case, I guess I accept your dare, Jupiter Ascending. It is aggressively goofy, gloriously nerdy and not afraid to fly its freak flag high for all to see. I respect that. Here is the thing, this is not a good film. It’s objectively bad. It’s so rushed it feels like you’re watching a scratched DVD that’s skipping scenes. Characters swap sides with just the barest hint of motivation and for great chunks of the film it is utterly, utterly unclear what is going on. It’s a movie that is outrageously bold in the world it created and its premise, but has the blandest chosen heroine/damsel in distress in the middle of it who spends the whole movie getting rescued over and over again by the dog man. Have I mentioned that Channing Tatum literally plays a half-dog half-man from outer space in this? I feel like i cant stress this enough. He does better than poor Sean Bean who I think is literally meant to be playing someone part-man and part bumble bee.
Here’s the thing though, I would watch this 100 times before sitting through Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or another Transformers movie. I have said before how much I enjoy it when some big studio accidentally writes a hundred million dollar cheque to finance some great filmakers personal vision because these movies have the most potential for greatness and anyway, they are always interesting even if they are not good.
And holy shit, Jupiter Ascending is one insane, fascinating, big budget boondoggle. I guarantee you some people got fired because of this movie.
The Wachowskis made this, and I know they are great filmakers. They always aim ridiculously high and really seem to enjoy pushing their audience. I loved Cloud Atlas and Speed Racer, but they were financial catastrophes** and a lot of people hated them. Those people are wrong by the way. Jupiter Ascending is honestly a disaster, but its the best kind of disaster. One you will laugh about and puzzle over and remember years after you saw it. If you want to watch a good movie, avoid Jupiter Ascending at all costs, but if you want to see something totally fucking nuts, don’t miss it!
* Some marketing guy must have decided the best word you can stick in a movie title is “Rise”. That’s why we have seen the rise of the Silver Surfer, Electro, the Guardians, The Scorpion King, the Dark Knight and the Planet of the Apes. Jupiter doesn’t rise though. She Ascends. It’s different.
** Not that this matters. The best movies usually are.
MORE FROM SAM CLARK: