“Jupiter Ascending” has sights set on stars
First Posted: 2/9/2015
Somewhere, some time ago, a mentally ill man turns to his 5-year-old daughter on the bus and said, “Did you know the earth is owned by foppish, British aliens that refuse to speak above a whisper? Or that these aliens will kill us one day and turn us into mineral water which they bathe in to keep themselves forever young?”
The child nods her head and replied, “I saw a doggy man and the doggy man had floaty-rollerblade boots and a gun that goes woof woof.”
Wide eyed, the man exclaims, “Grays use fertility clinics as traps to ensnare the vulnerable!”
This loud, very animated discussion goes on for a while and as the pair discusses “intergalactic tax codes,” “cute elephant daddy men,” Saturn and its stifling bureaucracy” and “very pretty princess dresses,” a mysterious figure sits behind them taking copious notes on a discarded Taco Bell wrapper.
Eventually, as the pair leave, the unknown person picks up his cell phone, dials a number and says, “Lana, Lana! It’s Marvin! Your cousin, Marvin Wachowski! I think I just wrote that new screenplay you’re looking for!” After screwing Marvin out of an on-screen credit, Lana and Andy Wachowski release this rambling, disconnected conversation as “Jupiter Ascending.”
The rest, as they say, is career suicide.
“Jupiter Ascending” is the Schrodinger’s Cat of movies because it is simultaneously the best and worst film you’ll ever see. It is the kind of film that gives us a montage of Mila Kunis cleaning toilets and a zero gravity orgy held inside a snowglobe. It’s weird, crazy, totally ill-conceived and highly recommended. Playing like a 10-hour trilogy awkwardly edited into one incomprehensible two-hour movie, “Jupiter Ascending” stumbles awkwardly out of the gate with a prologue that details unambitious cleaning lady Jupiter Jones’ (“Call her Joop”, Kunis unfortunately said at one point) chaotic arrival to America.
Everything from the death of her father at the hands of the Russian mafia to her birth in a shipping container in the middle of the ocean is revealed with the implication that this is leading toward something revelatory. Instead, it’s simply forgotten, as the film quickly mires itself within its convoluted world-building. To make a long, over-plotted story short, Jupiter is the “genetic reincarnation” of Queen Abrasax and the heir apparent to planet Earth. However, the late Queen’s children want Jupiter out of the picture so they can finally turn Earth into the farm/slaughterhouse it was always meant to be.
There’s also a wacky subplot in which Jupiter’s scheming cousin cons her into selling her eggs to a fertility clinic, a massive memory-wipe conspiracy and plenty of scenes where incomprehensible techno-gibberish is whispered out very Britishly.
If I elaborate any further, I’ll need a flow chart and several overhead projectors going at once.
What is “genetic reincarnation” and how exactly does one ‘own the earth’ (who the hell are you buying it from? Zeus? Galactus? Who)? I really can’t say. Nor can I tell you why Wachowski’s idea of a strong female character is someone who falls out of more windows than a depression era stockbroker, why Sean Bean lives in a house that’s covered in bee hives or why they felt compelled to stick scenes of an aggressively, zany, bickering Russian family and otherwise sitcom-ing it up between scenes of dragon men violently tussling with men who have scaly fauxhawks.
What I can tell you, ignoring the plot is probably in your best interest. Not that you could actually follow this needlessly complicated storyline in the first place, but still, tune it out all the same. Because this isn’t “Two Days One Night”, this is a film where Academy Award Nominee Eddie Redmayne constantly talks as if he was kicked in the stomach and travels around on a floating wooden sled/chaise lounge that has a sentient figurehead.
This is a film where Channing Tatum plays a half-man, half- wolf hybrid but actually looks like the bassist for Soundgarden if he was a feral elf. This is a film where grinning, robot lawyers, spaceships seemingly crafted out of Gothic cathedrals and a barely recognizable Terry Gilliam all mock your decision to go to the theater sober.
“Jupiter Ascending” is a mess but it’s also a personal mess helmed by a pair of eccentric filmmakers who’ve clearly stopped caring what the public thinks about them or their odd but frequently underwhelming films. In other words, “Jupiter Ascending” is the first must see movie of 2015.